Antique Mall to open at site of former Spag’s
By John Swinconeck, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – Doug Thomson is keenly aware of the space left by Anthony Borgatti. It’s evident by the cavernous, now-empty Spag’s building off Route 9 in Shrewsbury, and it’s evident by the tales of Borgatti that Thomson has collected from locals over the past year.
Thomson said he wants to capture some of the Borgatti spirit when he opens Spag’s Antique Mall on Saturday, Jan. 18, at the site of the former department store of the same name.
“I want to bring the Spag’s spirit back,” said Thomson, who resides in Providence, R.I. “I want that special mentality to come back.”
Thomson was quick to disassociate the mall’s concept from that of a flea market, although the mall will be regulated under the same recently-enacted bylaws that allowed Route 9 Flea Market just east of Spag’s’ to operate.
“We are not a flea market,” Thomson said. “We are a mall. We do not sell umbrellas from China for a buck or expired toothpaste.”
The mall, Thomson said, will be “an upscale vendor facility” for antique dealers. Vendors will be licensed for sellers of collectables, antiques, vintage clothing and furniture, or high-end, hand-made goods.
He is hoping for the same clientele who do business at the Brimfield Antique & Collectible Shows of Brimfield, Mass., which advertises itself as the “largest outdoor antique show in New England.”
Shoppers at the Spag’s Antique Mall would be affluent adults “looking for a bargain, looking for something cool and different” with an eye for art and interior design, Thomson said.
“There’s definitely a market for it,” Thomson said. “I’ve never seen an antique mall go out of business. They grow, they flourish.
Any vendor who shows up should be able to begin selling, Thomson said. For $25 a day, vendors will get a 10 foot by 20 foot space.
One prospective vendor is Linda Caforio of Millbury, owner of New Chapter Estate Sales, who deals in antique and refinished furniture. She already sells out of antique malls in Worcester and Uxbridge, but said a Shrewsbury mall will help attract customers from around Worcester County and the greater Boston area.
“Antique malls have been around for a long time,” Caforio said. “There have been a lot of independent stores that have closed recently, and a lot of those people are going into the antique malls instead.”
According to Shrewsbury Principal Planner/Economic Development Coordinator Kristen Las, the antique mall falls within Shrewsbury’s bylaws, and does not need to require approval by the planning or zoning boards.
However, Las said that an antique mall doesn’t fit in with the town’s comprehensive plan, which was adopted in 2001 and is currently being revised.
Las said the plan calls for mixed use in that area, which would include retail, office space, and townhouses to support those who work on the Route 9 corridor and at UMass Memorial in Worcester.
“It was a retail space before. It’s remaining a retail space now,” said Shrewsbury Building Inspector Patricia Sheehan.
The mall will occupy space the site of the former department on 193 Boston Turnpike, in space directly facing Route 9.
Thomson declined to say how many vendors have signed up. “I don’t want to speculate, but we’re open for business,” he said, and added that he would eventually like to see up to 250 vendors do business at the mall.
Some time after Borgatti’s death, the retail space was sold to Building 19, but has been vacant since August 2013.
“Anthony Borgatti … was like a god in the area. He was the epitome of charity, of American ingenuity,” Thomson said. “I want some of what goes on here to go back to the community through the original charities he gave to.”
Thomson said he wanted to use the antique mall to introduce Borgatti’s legacy to a new generation.
“He really was Shrewsbury’s lifeblood,” said Thomson.
The mall will be Friday-Sunday, and doors will open no later than 9 a.m., Thomson said.
Thomson is asking that prospective vendors or charitable organizations that once benefited from Borgatti reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (401) 286-4735.
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