Kim Hermanson is preparing to celebrate the 15th anniversary of her store, Antiques Iowa, in Story City.
Since she first opened, Hermanson has added on to the building three times, resulting in an 18,000-square foot mall with 300 booths.
After her first month in business in 2004, Hermanson hasn’t had an empty booth at Antiques Iowa.
“There’s actually a waiting list of vendors who would like to have booths here,” she said. “Our vendors do well here and we have new things in the booths all the time.”
When Hermanson says “new things,” she doesn’t mean new in the common use of the word when it comes to shopping. All of the items at Antiques Iowa are secondary market and most things are vintage, antique or collectible.
There is also a selection of high-quality, handcrafted art items, but Hermanson is selective about the vendors she accepts to offer those items.
Despite the waiting list of vendors, Hermanson said she’s not planning to add onto the building any further.
“I feel like this is just the right size,” she said. “We’re about half the size of the Brass Armadillo, but we’re able to keep the booths full at this size.”
Antiques Iowa is a store that Hermanson was practically destined to open — a vision she first had when she was in her 20s.
The building just west of Interstate 35 in Story City was home to Harris Auto Racing when Hermanson first started to dream of having an antiques business in that location at 1639 Broad St.
“I thought it was the perfect location for an antique mall,” Hermanson said.
Antiques Iowa is a popular stop for interstate travelers, with about 80 percent of sales coming from people who live outside Story City.
“Basically, it’s about a three-hour drive to Omaha, the Twin Cities, Kansas City and the Quad Cities,” Hermanson said. “We’re visible from the interstate, and people find the store is a great break from their drive.”
For Hermanson, antiques have been a way of life for as long as she can remember.
“I was raised with my parents taking me to garage sales and farm auctions,” she said. “My mom would visit with the church women while my dad and I went out bidding.”
Born and raised in Story City, Hermanson regularly attended Joy & Johnson’s Tuesday night auctions with her family. There were also plenty of horse sales, and Hermanson grew up riding and raising registered quarter horses.
Hermanson recalls the first item she ever bid on and won at an auction. “It was a walnut sofa table that I got when I was 16 years old,” she said with a laugh. “What 16-year-old buys a walnut sofa table?”
But Hermanson was hooked. She still operates a couple booths at Antiques Iowa, but she won’t tell you which ones they are. She likes to keep the ownership of the booths anonymous.
“I want everyone to do well, and I think it’s nice for shoppers to just find the things that speak to them rather than thinking about who operates which booths,” she said.
Each vendor is responsible for keeping their booths clean and updated, usually with at least a weekly visit. All of the vendors are from Iowa.
Antiques Iowa is big and brightly lit. “The store looks clean and it smells clean,” Hermanson said. “Lots of customers comment about how it doesn’t smell like an antique store in here.”
Antiques Iowa isn’t Hermanson’s first antique business. Prior to opening the antique mall near the interstate, she ventured into business in downtown Story City, most recently in a partnership in the current location of the Tin Chandelier. Her partners continued on with that business.
Antiques Iowa has been a business incubator, of sorts, as former Antiques Iowa vendors ventured out to open their own stores. Broad Street Market, now an online business but formerly a popular downtown storefront, and Penn Avenue Station, still a flourishing antique store in Story City’s Main Street district, both started as booths in the Antiques Iowa mall.
Also involved in Woodland Farms with her husband Mike, Kim said she couldn’t do it all without her family. She and Mike have three children and four grandchildren, with another one on the way. Woodland Farms will be a seventh-generation farm when the grandkids take over someday.
That focus on family is a thread that runs through Hermanson’s life.
“My priorities are family, God and business,” she said. “And the business is another form of family, because these people that I’ve worked with for the past 15 years have become like family too.”
Opened on May 20, 2004, Antiques Iowa is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day except Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving. The store has a Facebook profile, where Hermanson features items from Antiques Iowa’s booths.
Hermanson invites the public to visit Antiques Iowa during its 15th anniversary celebration, May 17-20, which will feature a sale, treats and door prizes. There will also be vintage dealers with booths set up outside, weather permitting.