The skeleton seated outside Trivia Antiques is more than a gimmick to draw downtown Bend visitors into the store, which is packed with old jewelry, purses, hats and curios.
Shop owner Wendy Sexton’s calcified greeter also reflects her personality. “I love skulls. I love Halloween. I even carry a skeleton in my car the month of Halloween,” she said.
“You would not believe how many people take their pictures with the skeleton. He’s just kind of a landmark for customers, and me.”
As a new landlord prepares to renovate the D.H. Spheir building at the northwest corner of Minnesota Avenue and Bond Street, Sexton hopes customers will follow her this fall to a new location, 632 NE First St. Trivia Antiques has been downtown since 1984, but Sexton said she won’t renew her lease when it expires at the end of May.
She’s determined, however, not to let rising rents force her out of business altogether. “I know too much to stop doing this, and I have too much fun with it.”
An entity owned by downtown landlord Rick Mikesell bought the building in February for $2.9 million, according to Deschutes County Assessor’s records.
“It’s kind of a prominent corner for an antique store,” Mikesell said.
Mikesell said he has many long-term tenants, and he doesn’t expect that everyone in the Spheir building will leave when their leases expire. Trivia Antiques happens to be positioned over the access to the basement, which he plans to open up and renovate to accommodate a new restaurant with a lounge.
“With the investment we’re going to put in the building, we need to be able to use the basement,” Mikesell said.
Mikesell also bought the Bend Hardware building at the southeast corner of Minnesota Avenue and Bond Street earlier this year. With St. Clair Place, which houses Hola! restaurant, Mikesell’s various holding companies own buildings at three of the intersection’s four corners.
Mikesell said he found a niche in renovating historic downtown buildings after a career in the oil industry. He owns the building that houses 900 Wall, the upscale restaurant at the corner of Minnesota Avenue and Wall Street, and a building just south of Deschutes Brewery Public House. He also owns property in Eugene and Albany.
The Spheir building’s facelift would include replacing aluminum door and window frames with bronze, replacing fabric awnings with flat metal, exposing the transom windows in the upper story and removing 1950s brick veneer below the storefront windows, according to a proposal submitted to the city’s Landmarks Commission.
Downtown Bend was not much of a destination in the 1980s, Sexton said. Traffic picked up in the 1990s and early 2000s and rebounded exponentially after the Great Recession, she said.
Trivia Antiques had a steady stream of foot traffic from tourists Thursday afternoon. One of them was Dian McGuire, a Utah resident visiting Bend for the first time.
“It’s so eclectic,” McGuire said. “There’s one of everything here.”
McGuire said she almost never browses antique stores, but her grandchildren, ages 11 and 12, were drawn to the window display. While the men in her family waited outside with the skeleton, McGuire bought a bell to add to her collection at home.
“It’s nice to have a shop like this that’s unique and not at all commercial,” said Elizabeth Sarkisian, a New Jersey resident visiting Bend with a niece from Los Angeles.
Another antiques dealer, Glenroe Antiques, left downtown in 2017. Rents across Bend have gone too high for the antiques trade, Sexton said, so she feels lucky to have landed the First Street location. She’ll be sharing it with Iron Horse, an antiques and secondhand store that sells more furniture than small items. Iron Horse will keep its current location on Congress Street.
Although Sexton has hauled seven trailer loads of inventory to the First Street shop, her downtown collection hardly appears diminished. “It’s been a good ride here,” she said. “It’s fabulous.”
— Reporter: 541-617-7860, firstname.lastname@example.org