Smiley’s Antique Mall is left in charred remains after Monday morning’s fire destroyed almost half of the building and merchandise inside, creating a hole in Micanopy’s antique community.
Tennessee resident Bob Christman has been shopping at the antique store for about five years and came to visit the location when he heard about the fire.
“They have a wide variety of antiques and collectibles,” 72-year-old Christman said. “It’s a good place to go — it’s going to be missed.”
Customers like Christman were still driving up to the front gate today and being turned away at the “Closed Due to Fire Sign.”
Vendors drove past it.
“A lot of my stuff is in the back by the bathrooms over on the west side of the building,” Dick Patterson said, pointing to the less-affected side of the mall. Patterson, an 85-year-old antique vendor, has been selling his antiques with Smiley’s for over two decades.
“I don’t know anything about my stuff,” said Patterson, regarding his booth. “It’s been a good place to be, I’m just sorry it happened.”
Patterson said he did not insure his items. According to Patterson and fellow vendor Christy Werts, a lot of vendors typically don’t.
“I have a very large space and I am on the furthest west corner of the building, there was smoke coming out from the building and who knows,” said Werts, a long-time Smiley’s vendor. “For myself it would be a total loss.”
When assessing the damage, Werts said that she feels that not much will be salvaged.
“That exit door there, that exit sign was melted. Just completely melted,” she said pointing to the least affected section of the building.
Though the tragedy of the fire may affect vendors financially, they were present to assist in the clean up.
“They’re all part of the antique family,” Werts said. “I have many years of passion for not just the antiques but for the people that are in this industry.
“I have been here since day one and have worked here for many years,” she said. “It is very personal.”
She has become a friend to Smiley’s owner Ben Campen, and has known the family for over 20 years. She came to the mall this morning to assist in any way she could.
“I am very appreciative of all of the support,” Campen said. After the fire, he said he woke to messages from vendors, dealers, friends and family sharing their sympathies.
“We’ve been at this location since September ‘94 and [have been] open everyday except for Christmas and a few hours on Thanksgiving,” he said. “I’m not quite sure when we’ll get back to that.”
He said the incident may have been electrical or perhaps from a storm passing the evening before the fire, though he said officials are still unsure.
Campen said his current goal is to assess the merchandise and secure the safety of the items, as the side that didn’t get burned still experienced tremendous heat.
Although still unsure of the extent of the damage, he hopes to have the mall open within six months to a year.
As Campen fiddled with his hard hat, he looked over the property where some workers were removing charred items from the building.
“We lost a member of the family yesterday,” he said. “We’ve had a great run for 22 years.”