Editor's Note: This story has been changed to correct the dates of operation for the business.
As a Scotland Yard detective, Alan Green tracked down criminals. Now the transplanted Londoner uses some of the same skills to find collectibles in the United States – and help others do the same.
“It is in a way detective work – doing the research, then going into a garage sale and holding your breath because what you’ve been searching for is sitting on the table,” he said.
Green and a business partner, David Stapleton, opened the Kechi Vintage Marketplace last month to connect dealers in antiques and other collectibles with the people who want them. The marketplace operates from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the third Saturday of each month in a field along Kechi Road, just off Highway 254. The next one starts May 17.
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“What we’re trying to be is a little more upscale than a flea market,” Green said. “We try to be as diverse as possible – antiques, collectibles, but also homemade crafts like people that make their own jewelry, and also Kansas farm produce.”
April’s event attracted 32 vendors and about 500 shoppers to the field. With six acres of land at their disposable, Green and Stapleton hope to see the enterprise grow.
Green worked for London’s famous police force for 30 years before following his wife, Jo, to this country.
Also English, she moved to this country with her parents as a teenager and served 20 years in the Air Force, ending her career at McConnell Air Force Base. Green met her through her sisters, who still live in England. They’ve been married 14 years.
Green said he started collecting antiques 40 years ago. Police officers “could have a second job, but that was my hobby. Because England is steeped in history, antiques are in abundance.”
Green has had a booth in a Derby antique mall for several years. For a while, he specialized in glass objects, which he fell in love with during a trip to Italy. But he said the bottom dropped out of that market in recent years, and he now specializes in “unusual stuff.”
For instance, he and his wife recently completed a 10-day picking trip in which they hauled a mermaid figure and huge searchlight with a wooden tripod back from Galveston, Texas. Those kinds of items “seem to be very popular in the Midwest,” he said.
Green said he met Stapleton through their mutual interest in antiques. Stapleton bought a building and property at 1303 E. Kechi Road that was formerly known as Jesse’s Corner, and the pair are leasing six acres next to that property. If the marketplace takes off, they might eventually move all or part of the operation indoors.
Vendors are charged $20 for a booth space. The marketplace is organized so that vendors can park their vehicle behind their booth, making setting up and tearing down easier. Green said he and Stapleton are trying to return Kechi to its status as one of the premier antiquing areas of Kansas. The marketplace dates are coordinated with Shop Kechi, a local business initiative.
Green said he’s in charge of promoting the marketplace through a website and social media. The marketplace’s vendors and their goods are pictured on a Facebook page. More at home with antiques than computers, Green said, “I’ve dragged myself into the 21st century.”