Like the treasures it withholds behind its doors, Marketplace 3301 is a slice of history with a new beginning. It’s been around for nearly 100 years, a relic that has seen a few different hands tend to it – each carefully preserving its legacy. It has been refurbished, repainted and restored, time and again.
The building, located at 3301 First Ave. N., was originally constructed in the late 1920s as a Chevy service station and showroom for Goan Motor Company. Some 20 years later, Lew Williams acquired the business, calling it Lew Chevrolet, Inc. In 1954, Roul Hoyt purchased Lew Chevrolet and turned it into Rowe Furniture.
In 1986, Marian Cooke, owner of Holliday Furniture at 202 N. 29th St., suffered a devastating blow when her downtown business was destroyed in an alley fire behind the building on Dec. 20 of that year. Then Cooke purchased Rowe Furniture, reopening Holliday Furniture Store in downtown Billings.
Years passed, and after a successful run in the community, Holliday Furniture eventually closed its doors — but Cooke was looking for a tenant.
In October of 2010, Shelley Turk and daughter Jennifer Ingraham decided to pursue their dream of owning an antique store together and 3301 First Ave. N. provided the perfect space.
“We loved shopping at Granny’s Attic antique mall and when it closed, we wondered what would happen to all of those vendors - that’s when we began taking the steps to make this happen,” said Ingraham.
It wasn’t easy. Local business owners struggle to maintain and get their feet off the ground. Turk recalls meeting with realtors, one telling her she would never succeed.
“I looked at him and said, 'Watch me.’”
Turk and husband Brice, along with Ingraham and husband Josh, made it a family affair, working tirelessly to bring the business to life. They wanted to honor Cooke and the tremendous amount of care she took in the building and her business. Aspects of Holliday furniture remain as customer favorites in the store, like the floor-to-ceiling birdcage and log cabin display.
Marketplace 3301 has been in business for nine years and counting. With 44,000 square feet and as many as 100 vendors, Turk says the store is the largest antique mall in Montana.
In December 2018, they purchased the building.
“It was nothing I dreamt I could do – it’s a miracle to me,” said Turk.
With that, came harder choices, like removing the iconic tower that so many Billings residents identified with the building.
“That was a heartbreaking decision and we thought about it for a long time,” said Turk.
What was a landmark in downtown had become a danger, as the tower began to lean. Contractors examined the damage and told Turk that it was only a matter of time, or the right storm, before it fell down. The interior of the building also suffered severe water damage from the pulling weight of the tower, leaving a giant hole in the ceiling. The choice was no longer about preserving the tower but preserving the building.
“It had to come down. It took us weeks to accept that we couldn’t fix it,” said Ingraham.
The exterior also had a facelift, removing the final remnants of Holliday Furniture store and adding new paint and corrugated, rustic metal accents.
“Now that we own it, we wanted it to look like ours,” said Turk.
Inside, the same charm and wonder can still be found. The store has a gallery-like feel with booths lining every nook and cranny. For many, the store offers solace. The café often hosts gatherings for parties; groups play games, have lunch, tea and coffee; students and writers come for a quiet place to have a latte and concentrate.
Most come to walk the many paths that lead you through the two-level store. With vendors from all over the U.S., the store offers an array of artifacts – both refurbished and in original form.
“There have been so many memorable pieces. One that really sticks in my memory is a handmade table built in the 1700s,” said Turk. “It came over on a ship from Spain.”
Other items, like handwritten letters and recipes have been found tucked in the cracks of the many antiques that find their way to Marketplace.
“People find items from their own history. Maybe it was a plate set your grandmother had or a toy that you had as a child. Once, a woman found her own family photos. She was in tears,” said Turk.
The sentimental connection to items that remind us of times past often strikes the emotions of many customers. Turk and Ingraham are there to offer a hug and listen to their shopper’s stories.
“I love to hear that gasp of delight when someone has found something that triggers a memory,” said Ingraham.
That same reaction can be heard and seen for refurbished items that serve a new and unique purpose.
“We are a green business in that way – we keep things out of landfills,” said Turk.
Durability is another perk to reusing and purchasing antiques items.
“There is a functional side. These items were made to last. They aren’t from a box store. They are unique and one-of-kind,” said Ingraham. “You take that item home and then it becomes your story.”
Whether it be a collector of Civil War memorabilia, a lover of old relics turned new, or an overall enthusiast for the possible treasures an antique store can withhold, the demographic of clients has shifted from older shoppers and expands to all ages.
Perhaps it is the connection to the past that draws people from all walks of life through the doors of Marketplace 3301, providing comfort to the eyes of its onlookers – where there are no expectations or requirements. It’s just you and the memories.