Like his mother, Jean Johnston, before him, Jim Rygg operated 1012 Adams Antiques as a co-op. Though plans are not solidified, the antiques building at 1012 Adams Ave. may become a part of the Liberty Theater, located next door at 1010 Adams Ave. (BILL RAUTENSTRAUCH for WESCOM News Service)
Antiques store in downtown La Grande is shutting its doors after 30-year run
With years and years of antique dealing under his belt, Jim Rygg has learned one thing above all others: “antique” is in the eye of the beholder.
A purist says that an antique is an object from human society that is at least 100 years old and still in its original, unaltered condition. Many other people, though, go with their gut. An antique is anything from a former era that interests them.
Rygg, whose 1012 Adams Antiques store is closing Aug. 3 after 30 years in business, says it’s best for a dealer to keep an open mind. The market is always in flux. Customers tend to desire and acquire things they’ve come to know and cherish in their own lifetimes.
“The market for genuine, true antiques is declining, because people want what they had when they were young. Today’s customer isn’t always looking for things like butter churns. The sign on the front of our building says Antiques, Etc., and as time
So it is that at 1012 Adams, a browser will come across china and glassware, furniture, tools, toys, jewelry, clothing, books, magazines, photographs and plenty else that date to a century or more ago, mixed in with items made in the 1950s, ’60s or even later.
That’s business evolution. Thirty years ago, when Rygg’s mother, Jean Johnston, bought the building at 1012 Adams Ave. and opened the store, things were a little different. Johnston tended toward the purist’s view of antiques.
“She’d dealt with them her whole life,” Rygg said.
Though the product line has changed to include more modern collectibles, the store has always operated as a co-op, with anywhere from four to seven members displaying wares they’ve diligently searched for at estate and yard sales, auctions and online sales.
Johnston worked at the store until two weeks before her death in 1995.
Rygg then took over, keeping the co-op model in place. He said he wouldn’t have had it any other way.
“We have shared the work and expenses, and each member owned their own merchandise. We have always been fortunate to have great people to work with,” he said.
He said that with the closing, the co-op members will pursue their interests independently.
“Some will do shows where they can get out and sell a few things, probably won’t be in a situation where they will be tied down. One girl sells online and does pretty good with that,” he said.
At 65, Rygg is planning to retire, but he will not be idle. He said that after the store closes, he plans to take a couple of weeks off, and then come back and do some renovation work on the building for a new tenant. He said he also will spend significant time looking after other properties he owns.
Though plans are not solidified, the building at 1012 Adams may become a part of the Liberty Theater, located next door at 1010.
A local group is restoring the old theater, hoping to operate it as a regional performing arts center. Rygg’s building could provide space needed for restrooms and offices.
“As the theater restoration project progresses, we hope that our building can be of assistance to that,” he said.
Looking back on his years as owner of one of La Grande’s longest-lived and best-known antique stores, Rygg said he will miss dealing with the public most of all.
“Perhaps the greatest pleasure I’ve had is dealing with so many great customers,” he said. “We have people from out of town who stop in every time they come here. We have lots of repeat local customers, and it’s always been fun dealing with first time customers. Local students have been a pleasure to have as customers, too.”