Between Belvedere Road and Southern Boulevard on South Dixie Highway in West Palm Beach, Florida, lays a historical display of shops developed over years of dedication. Each building along the busy road has unique characteristics. Thirty-five years ago, the area was missing something that would help name it what it is today.
“A lot of changes,” Sonny Lastition, owner of Re Vue, said. “When we moved here there was a Cuban bakery, a veterinarian and the liquor store at the corner. There were no antique stores.”
After the opening of his store and many others, the one-mile road of local businesses, primarily antique shops and vintage clothing stores, became known as Antique Row.
Lastition was inspired to sell antiques after working as an antique porcelain dealer on Worth Avenue.
“That got the bug in me,” Lastition said.
Lastition knows the stories behind each antique piece. Sometimes he buys items back from regular customers for another admirer to enjoy.
Along with the changes to the area, he also saw the changes in his customers. Some of his most notable antique enthusiasts continue to motivate him.
“I know the parents, and now I know the kids,” Lastition said.
Lastition displays blue pamphlets toward the front of his store with a map listing the businesses of Antique Row. Re Vue is one of 40 antique stores that belong to the Antique Row Association. While he knows the summer months are slower, he is hopeful more people will visit his shop.
Faustina Pace, president of the Antique Row Association, wants to do everything she can possibly do to bring in more people. Pace said the city of West Palm Beach realizes that businesses need help expanding.
During a West Palm Beach city commissioners meeting on Sept. 23, Pace and other antique store owners sat in the audience optimistically.
Chris Roog, West Palm Beach director of economic development, stepped up to the podium to present an economic proposal to Mayor Keith James and city commissioners. Roog said 32% of Palm Beach tourists visit Antique Row. He believes this number has potential to increase.
“The business built this out of the blood, sweat and tears that they’ve endured over the last 20 years or so,” Roog said. “Antique Row is the magnet, and everybody is growing as a result of this attraction that’s coming in.”
The proposal is for an enhancement grant which would begin in October with installments of $10,000 over the next three years. This is part of an economic development incentive seen throughout multiple districts in the city. Antique Row is part of the Art and Design District.
Pace explained the first installment would revamp the Antique Row website. The next installments would focus on events and advertising to bring in more people for store owners like Lastition.
The proposed grant requires an equal matching of funds through the association and proof of financial ability, according to Roog.
“I do like this last point here about getting data to support our decisions,” Mayor James said during the meeting. “So we have metrics in place that we can measure success.”
After the presentation concluded, Roog answered the government officials’ questions. The store owners sat in the audience in anticipation of the mayor’s call for a vote. The vote was unanimous, and the officials approved the $30,000 grant. Pace and the other antique store owners walked out of City Hall smiling and excited for the future of Antique Row.
By Heather Chiles, Jessica Fernandez