An interview with Bonnie Throne, owner of Oakton Street Antique Centre in Arlington Heights.
Q: Describe your business. What do you do?
Oakton Street Antique CentreAddress: 2430 E. Oakton St., Arlington Heights, IL 60005
Phone: (847) 437-2514
Owner: Bonnie Throne
Year business started: May of 1994
Web address: www.oakton-antiques.com
A: We sell antiques and collectibles. We also provide a hospitable and warm atmosphere in which customers can spend some quiet and enjoyable time shopping.
Q: What made you start your business?
A: I love antiques and collectibles. My Aunt Molly was also a great inspiration to me. She loved antiques. When I see how our business is run overwhelmingly by women, (my daughter is store manager), I think of my Aunt Molly.
Q: You have made it 20 years. What has been the most difficult obstacle in running the business?
A: Naturally paying the bills. But my business has been so successful and my customers so loyal and ever increasing in numbers, so really this has a not been a problem.
Q: What do you enjoy most about operating your business?
A: Providing customer satisfaction and in particular, seeing a customer leave my store with items that they love and that put a glow on their face and also find items that they have been searching for, possibly for years.
Q: Is this what you pictured yourself doing when you were young?
A: I wanted to own and run an antique store.
Q: What keeps you up at night?
A: My Chihuahua and Jack Russell terrier.
Q: If you could give one tip to a rookie business owner, what would it be?
A: Select a business that you love and put your heart and soul into your work.
Q: What have you done right to keep the business strong for 20 years?
A: I have focused on getting high quality dealers and working with them to see that they bring the highest quality items into the store for resale. In this we are very successful. We have had customer after customer compliment us on the quality of our merchandise. Many customers have said that we are the best Antique Mall in the Chicagoland area. For anybody wishing to open an antique mall on their own I can offer no more advise than but to follow our example. But be prepared: No small business starting from scratch has much of a chance of success unless those who take the step put their heart and soul into it. But we do not leave it at just getting the highest quality dealers and merchandise.
Q: Tell us about the atmosphere.
A: We work together to create a welcoming atmosphere. Our antique store is not just a place where items are exchanged for cold cash. It is also a place where we as management and dealers and the customers as customers come together to share our passion for antiques and collectibles. We love what we are doing together in the store. We have customers who are shopping with us for twenty years. To help create this warm and hospitable atmosphere we also supply coffee and cookies free. To further add to the atmosphere we have jukeboxes which play the music our customers like. Just like the antiques and collectibles, the music brings back old times and memories. Our store is a relaxing oasis where people can enjoy a coffee, a cookie and memories of the past.
• Every Monday we feature a small suburban business. We want to hear about yours. Contact Kim Mikus at email@example.com.