Angie and Gary Clark help a customer check out at Wheel & Spoke Antique Mall. The Clarks are the new owners of the Meridian Street property on the south side of Portland. (The Commercial Review/Louise Ronald)
Angie and Gary Clark help a customer check out at Wheel & Spoke Antique Mall. The Clarks are the new owners of the Meridian Street property on the south side of Portland. (The Commercial Review/Louise Ronald)
New owners have big plans for a huge Portland property.

A few months ago, Gary and Angie Clark took possession of a conglomeration of buildings covering most of a city block on the city’s south side.

Since 1998, what was once the Jay Garment Co. – complete with offices, factory floor, outlet store and more – has been home to an antique mall and, more recently, an event venue as well.

Those businesses will continue as Wheel & Spoke Antique Mall, 500 S. Meridian St., and Wheel & Spoke Event Center, behind the mall at 555 S. Bridge St.

The Clarks are working to make those spaces cleaner, better organized and more inviting.

That’s just the beginning of what they hope to do.

They dream of reopening a restaurant in what was once the factory cafeteria, of creating a workshop where customers can learn to repurpose and customize antique furniture and of converting the historic home at the front of the property to an Airbnb.

“We want to build an entire experience, not just a place to shop for a couple of hours,” Angie Clark said. “That’s what we’re really striving for.”

Since March, they’ve started on much-needed roof repairs and better lighting in the antique mall. They’ve worked with vendors to make their booths more attractive and accessible to customers.

“The new ownership seems really good,” said Chris Braman of Churubusco, who came to the mall to shop for tinsmith tools.

“There have been noticeable improvements.”

After Gary Clark told him about blacksmithing opportunities in Redkey and vendors who routinely replenish the supplies of antique tools in their booths, Braman seemed to reassess his opinion of the mall.

“We’ll put this place in our (shopping) rotation,” said Braman.

The Clarks have a long history with antiques.

“We’ve always gone to auctions and collected things,” Angie said. “I’ve always repurposed and used old things.”

Before buying Wheel & Spoke from Brad and Pat Daniels, who had owned the facility for about six years and were the first to convert the west end into an event center, the Clarks owned Altered Style on Water Street in Portland, selling vintage and repurposed items and custom artwork. They also own and operate You Neekly Ur’s, which offers interior and decorative painting such as faux finishes and murals.

They were concerned that it would be hard to keep the painting business going while working at the antique mall, but discovered that was not the case. People who are looking for interior decorating ideas also are interested in getting their rooms painted, Angie said.

“On both ends, we’re so busy,” she added.

No wonder their plans for the new property include converting some of the former office space into a residence for themselves.

But that will be far in the future.

Right now, their hands are full.

They work with 80 vendors in the mall — 13 of whom have come on board since the Clarks took ownership. Remaining space is limited, but they would like to find dealers of coins, vintage jewelry, marbles or pocket knives.

“If they have a niche like that, people will come for it,” Angie said.

In addition to working with vendors, the Clarks have their own booths at the mall for antiques and for paints and refurbishing supplies. They and daughter Britany Adams offer merchandising/marketing advice for vendors as well.

And they have created a display space in the mall entry to highlight community events.

Most recently, it was decorated for the Fourth of July. During the Jay County Fiber Arts Festival, it was filled with spinning wheels and a variety of fabric-related antiques.

“We had so much interest,” Angie said.

During the upcoming Tri-State Antique Gas Engine and Tractor Show, Wheel & Spoke will host multiple quilt shops Aug. 25 to 27 with door prizes, swag bags and scissor sharpening. The Indiana Glass Collectors Convention comes to the center Oct. 6 to 8.

It’s all part of the Clarks’ efforts to make Wheel & Spoke a destination, an experience.

Angie admitted it’s a work in progress.

“It’s all one thing at a time,” she said.

The next task in the event center is to create a changing room for brides and bridesmaids. She hopes to have the space done for the 2023 wedding season.

Once that’s complete, there will be more plans in the works.

“We just want to continue to make it better,” said Angie.