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Santa Monica Loses an Antique, Wertz Mall Closing

There used to be options for antique shoppers on the Westside. In the 1990s, when she worked at the Antique Guild in the former Helms Bakeries building in Culver City, Robin Messick recalled handing out maps to customers wanting to continue shopping in the area. 

"There were four good sized malls in a 10 mile radius, that's what we would say," Messick said Saturday morning as she lamented the impending closure of Wertz Brothers Antique Mart in Santa Monica—the last big antique mall in the region after the loss of such places as the antique alley at the Los Angeles Farmers Market.

After 11 years serving pickers and prop buyers, the Santa Monica mall will shutter Feb. 1.

The city has approved a demolition permit for the building at 1607 Lincoln Blvd., a former municipal bus barn. It's currently reviewing a development agreement for a mixed-use project with 56 apartments and first-floor commercial space.

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"I would've come here every week," said Calabasas resident Gail Berger during her first visit to the store.

With more than 130 individual dealers and 20,000 feet of space to showcase its wares, the clean and crowded mall has an extensive selection of furniture, cookware, clothing and accessories, chandeliers, books and oddities for collectors and decorators.

Dealer Patty Kodenko began selling antiques, including tailor mannequins and furniture, at Wertz 10 years ago after befriending a lamps dealer she met at the Pasadena Flea Market.

"It's sad, because everyone here is such great friends," she said. "It's a lovely mall."

Messick began managing the Wertz Brothers Antique Mall when it opened in 2001. It was previously leased by the Santa Monica Antique Mall.

Among Messick's favorite memories over the past decade: the Bloomingdale's decor team popped in every few days to buy chandeliers and chairs while opening the department store's location at Santa Monica Place. More recently, customers included set designers for TV shows New Girl and American Horror Story.

"It's just that collectives like ours are far more than just spots for antique collectors," said Messick. "They are sources for a wide range of prop stylists."

The Santa Monica municipal garage was built in 1933 and housed 25 buses, fuel tanks, repair pits, a machine shop and a small office. When the fleet expanded, a new facility was constructed in 1962 on Sixth Street, south of Colorado Avenue.

Over the years and until the mall moved in, occupants included the General Telephone Company; Otto Zipper Alfa, automotive dealer and owner of a car racing team; and Hill and Vaughn, a classic car restoration business.

Messick said the Wertz Brothers furniture store on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Los Angeles will remain open and the brothers, Mike and Larry Wertz, have offered to help her open her own mall on the Westside.

But it probably won't be in Santa Monica and it's not likely to be as big, either.

"It's just too expensive," Messick said. But, the "interest is here," she concluded, pointing to the double-parked cars in the Wertz parking lot.

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mimi January 15, 2013 at 05:20 PM
In the past year, I stopped by 2-3 times and found the prices very high. With swap meets, yard sales, Craigslist, on-line antique wholesalers and sales, the closure of Wertz comes as no surprise.. If they matched the prices of their competition, they would still be in business.. It's the law of supply and demand.
Jenna Chandler (Editor) January 15, 2013 at 06:05 PM
Hi mimi: I agree, the prices are high! But now would be a good time to swing in... with the dealers trying to clear out their stock, everything is on sale 10-60 percent off. The antique mall lost its lease—it's not going out of business. The property owners, the Wertz brothers, have put the property up for sale and plan to redevelop it. The city's plans call for Lincoln Boulevard to undergo a major transition with lots of new mixed-use development in the coming years, which means places like the antique mall, Denny's, NORMS, etc. are on their way out.

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