L.B. Antiques prides itself as a business that sells quality pieces with interesting back stories.
Inventory includes the cool slot machine from the 1930s that entertained Minnesotans during the state’s prohibition era. And the remarkable and practical antique handmade furniture that served as a bench on one side and transformed into a table when flipped over.
There is also the memorable and funny story about the glass tuba candy container.
Owners Diane Reid and Susan Larsen love to share each antique’s back story or tell why a particular antique holds value today.
The couple found their calling early on and would say the small business has thrived for 25 years. They have kept busy buying and selling antiques in their downtown Jordan storefront.
The business has operated for 18 years inside the state historic registry building on Water Street next door to the florist. This historic building carries its own back story as it was once home to a German newspaper and print shop. Another tenant was a car dealership, but for years it was known to house Radermacher’s grocery store that operated its grocery market on the lower level of the historic building.
But for the past two decades, L.B. Antiques has built a long, trusted presence in downtown Jordan. “We are the longest, continuous owners of an antique shop in Jordan,” said Susan Larsen.
Under the shop’s glass sales counter are pieces from Jordan and Belle Plaine that chronicle the communities’ histories. Old black and white photographs, city literature and Jordan advertising, historic post cards, old school books and composition notebooks are all for sale. An old wooden railroad telephone box hangs on the wall next to a vintage antique cash register.
FELL INTO ANTIQUES
Twenty years ago the owners recall how they both seemed to fall into the antique business after college.
Working at a job in Shakopee for about a year after college, Larsen said “Wow, this is kind of boring, but I had a blast in college . . . we decided we would like to sell something and we did not know what and we did not know if we would be good at it.”
So the two women started out small, literally, with a 50-square-foot space to buy and sell antiques. “We were afraid we could not fill it and so we had another dealer fill it and it grew into this,” said co-owner Diane Reid.
“We have enjoyed it and we feel we are pretty good at buying stuff and reselling it,” Larsen said after all these years.
To determine each piece’s value, the two began researching online and by browsing books and catalogs. They looked over all kinds of antiques to gain an understanding of the value of different kinds of antiques from different time periods in history.
LB Antiques built a loyal customer following. Many came to depend on the storefront business to find unique pieces that would complement their personal collections. For years, regular dealers found treasures inside this shop. L.B. Antiques built a reputation for selling quality pieces, priced right for resale.
“We like to give our customers a good deal,” Diane said. “We have people who come in and say “Wow!” I got this there, and I got a good price on it.”
Customers who frequent L.B. Antiques expect to find new pieces each week and how fun learning the back story about a particular antique.
Early on their career, the business owners shared a funny story about how one antique took them by surprise in an unexpected way after they found out they were misrepresenting the antique for sale on their shop shelf.
A dealer in search of items related to music noticed the unexpected antique – a glass candy container in the shape of a tuba.
“He said this is a breast pump not a candy container . . . we didn’t know it was a breast pump — we thought it was a glass candy container in the shape of a tuba,” Larsen said. She shared loud laughter with her partner.
For years this unexpected antique has served as a fun conversation piece.
“The man didn’t buy it because he was looking for instruments,” Larsen said. But not that kind of instrument.
Chalking up this mistaken identity to being new in the antique business, Larsen said, “We were first into the business and we had not a clue what it was.”
When asked what acquired antiques have been the most memorable that have come through the doors at L.B. Antiques, a few pieces come to mind.
A slot machine originating in Shakopee was left over during the prohibition era and came from a raided club in the 1930s when drinking and gambling were illegal in the state.
“The club was raided and it was thrown in the Minnesota River and a few police kept them – the slot machine . . . that was the coolest thing because of its history,” Larsen recalled.
So sometimes an antique can be memorable because it is in mint condition and is valued highly. But many times the back story adds more value because people love hearing about the how and when the antique was used throughout history.
Reid gave a tour inside the shop to share back stories on different acquired antiques. She shares special details about pieces that range from antique toys, military and World War II artifacts, old sports equipment and collectible sports memorabilia. She shows off a few furniture pieces and some mid-century antique dishes and glassware.
“These are old pharmacy bottles from the late 1800s where they put all their medicines in the bottles . . . usually it is hard to get the labels intact so this is pretty neat,” Reid said.
A wide-mouthed, copper kettle used for homemade candy and chocolate making is for sale inside the shop.
Two primitive antiques stand out as special. A mustard-colored wooden water bucket is for sale along with a gray cupboard with a soft, worn finish.
Other examples of primitives in furniture pieces are the classic pie safes and jelly cabinet cupboards with punched tin doors.
The business of antique buying and selling is all about selecting the right pieces. But a big part of the business is about building trusting relationships with dealers and customers to sustain and grow the shop, Reid said.
“We have people who come to see what we have — we have regular clientele that comes in on a regular basis, and we sell to other dealers who have all been real good clients for many years,” Reid said.
Since this past September, L.B. Antiques took on four dealers who work in the shop every month. The dealers pay rent and sell their antiques while working in the shop during what are called “duty days” on weekdays and weekends.
After years of working every day inside the antique shop, the owners now have more free time to attend estate sales and auctions. They only select quality antiques that appeal to local, loyal customers and dealers. The two entrepreneurs also like to attend private parties upon invitation. The antique owners can also consult about heirloom pieces that families are ready to sell or find out the value.
“We are very fortunate,” Reid said, “to have very wonderful customers and wonderful dealers throughout the years that we have really treasured and have become very good friends with.”