Emptying the store

Boone Antique Mall owner Dennis Boucher stands outside his store one final time as employees emptied the building on Monday.

 

The boxes are all packed at the Daniel Boone Antique Mall now.

Their last day of business was on Dec. 31. On Monday, owner Dennis Boucher, who purchased the store with several partners in the mid-80s, helped clean out the building that was once the home of a two-story wax museum. Like many other businesses in Daniel Boone Village, it is going by the wayside.

In September, the village was sold to developers from the Collins Ridge Development. Boucher’s store, originally owned by Nancy Barfield, is the latest to close its doors. Balloons Above Orange shut down on Dec. 4 after 36 years in business. Daniel Boone Traders, another antique store, also closed last month.

While Boucher has been present for the highs and lows of Daniel Boone’s history, there was one moment he wasn’t present for. He certainly wishes he could have been.

It’s not every day that the most influential man in music drops by looking for boots.

It was November 2014 when a large tour bus en route to Greensboro pulled up, occupying several parking spaces. Out of the bus came several musicians, along with their boss.

His name was Paul McCartney.

“It blew everybody away,” Boucher recalls. “It was one of those special moments. He was doing a show that night at the Greensboro Coliseum. He was looking for some boots. He got some next door. I wished I had been here. I’m a lifelong Beatles fan.

In fact, the Boone Antique Mall has carried Beatles items over the years. From their legendary albums like “Rubber Soul” and “Revolver” to items from the height of BeatleMania like playing cards and t-shirts, McCartney may have stumbled across items from his past.

“This used to be the antiques capital of North Carolina,” Boucher said. “For many, many years, there used to be about 15 antique shops here. As the years dwindled, people got older and they retired. The whole antiques really has changed a lot in that time. But this was the biggest for about 20 years.”

Boucher recalls times when families would flood Boone Village to shop for antiques during the winter, then head over to the skating rink, which was open seasonally in the days before the Orange County Sportsplex.

“People would drop their kids off at the ice skating rink,” Boucher said. “Then they would come down here and shop for antiques. It was a fun business. I enjoyed it.”

Even though Boucher has closed down the Antique Mall, he won’t be leaving the business behind. He’ll continue to shop for antiques and sell them at auction. He travels to flea markets, thrift shops and estate sales to find items.

“I have mixed emotions,” Boucher said as he watched the store empty out. “I’m 71. I’m kind of ready to retire. But it’s the type of business where you always have a hand in it. You never know where you’ll find things. It’s always fun.”