Many businesses have come and gone in downtown Turlock over the last quarter of a century, but one that has remained a constant is Main Street Antiques. The retail treasure chest known to the community and visitors alike celebrated its 25th anniversary Friday complete with cupcakes, charcuterie and champagne.
The store was opened by Richard Soderquist and Lori Smith in 1996 and has since served as a haven for antique collectors, enthusiasts and vendors alike thanks to its various spaces selling all sorts of unique items. In 2015, Soderquist sold the store to Smith and longtime vendor Jennifer Jensen and the pair have continued the shop’s legacy in the years since. Sadly, Soderquist passed away prior to the store’s 20th anniversary in 2016.
Smith and Jensen have always loved antiques, and their passion for Main Street Antiques’ merchandise shows through its success. The store has survived a downtown revitalization (with plenty of construction), a recession and most recently a global pandemic over the past 25 years, and Friday’s celebration was meant to celebrate not only an important anniversary, but the customers who helped get them there.
“Our customers are why we’re here,” Jensen said. “They’ve continued to support us year after year, through everything.”
Jensen and Smith credit the shop’s longevity to not only the customers, but their employees and vendors as well. Turlock resident Faith Eskue has been an antique vendor at the shop for 20 years, she said, and has seen countless customers — and selling strategies — come and go. The rise of social media has forced vendors to compete with online sellers who may offer the same items as them, but one thing that has remained constant is Main Street Antiques atmosphere.
“Everyone here is so friendly,” Eskue said. “When you come here, it feels like home.”
Smith and Jensen said the items they sell most frequently have changed over the years as well; Victorian furniture was popular 25 years ago, but now mid-century modern is all the rage. Vendors like Eskue have remained throughout the years, however, as well as the shop’s coin collector Lee Henderson, who joined the store in 2001.
The store is a reflection of the downtown community, with friendships and even business relationships forged throughout the years.
“It’s really grown into something,” Smith said. “We’re all supporting each other and we wall want the downtown to succeed. That’s not to say we don’t have our differences, but we can always get past that and work together.”
Main Street Antiques and the rest of the downtown core attract customers from all over the Central Valley, Jensen said, with customers coming from Manteca, Ripon, Escalon and more to shop. Modesto resident Ralph Baldwin has been driving to Turlock for the past 20 years to shop at Main Street Antiques, he said, and has developed a friendship with Smith and Jensen.
“They have a turnaround of merchandise so that you don’t see the same stuff in the same place every time like other stores,” Baldwin said. “Plus, everyone is so friendly.”
It’s these friendships that have made the years of hard work worth it for the antiquing pair, and the shop’s meaning to the community isn’t lost on them. As one of the oldest retail stores on Main Street, they’re hopeful that another 25 years will come just as easily.
“We’ve been a fixture of downtown for so long, and that’s pretty awesome,” Jensen said. “It’s funny because when you walk in here every day you don’t think about it, but then it really hits you.”
“I told myself years ago that if it stopped being fun, I wasn’t going to do it anymore,” Smith said. “Here I am 25 years later.”