By Royal Bonde-Griggs, Special to   Published May 25, 2011 at 4:25 PM

By Wednesday, June 1, Antiques on Second, 1039 S. 2nd St., will open its new 7,000-square foot wing. The expansion will bring the total floor area of the antique mall to 37,000 square feet across three floors, and make room for over 200 antique dealers.

Antiques on Second co-owner Sandra Kelsenberg gives the Wednesday, June 1 opening date for the new space, but co-owner Brian Belli is shooting for Friday, May 27.

The two antique dealers have a fun, interesting dynamic. Their upbeat attitude and love for what they do are part of what makes Antiques on Second a fantastic shopping space. And that devotion might just be necessary for them to keep their sanity, managing a mall that size and taking care of its 200 individual dealers.

"Just working with that many characters is a challenge," Kelsenberg says.

The Antiques on Second dealers offer an incredible array of items, from lamps, furniture, art work and housewares to niche dealers who sell film reels, posters, magnets, knives, vintage clothing, jewelry, musical instruments -- and everything in between. One dealer is a glass carver, another dealer specializes in 1950s and '60s items such as chrome kitchen furniture, Christmas ornaments and a huge collection of Barbie dolls.

"If we don't have it, you don't want it. And you probably don't need it," says Judy Alferi, a dealer with space in the mall.

"There's a diversity here, so you can find almost anything, not only antique glassware," says Belli. "But we don't sell working firearms. And, although it's a touchy subject, pornography. But nudes are OK."

The newest Walker's Point antique mall opened its doors in July 2010, and Kelsenberg says it was the right time for them to open. Kelsenberg worked in other antique malls for 10 years and both she and Belli had dealer space at Fox Skylight Antiques on South 1st Street before it closed.

"I thought about opening a mall over the years, then Brian retired (from the Greendale Police force), the other mall was closing, and this nice, bright building became available. It was good timing, it was just right," Kelsenberg says.

Previously, the Antiques on Second building was used for light manufacturing, housing a shoe company, then Snow White Uniforms. Current building owner Betsy Horsfield operated Canvasbacks, her women's sportswear manufacturing business, there after relocating when the business outgrew her basement.

"Betsy Horsfield has helped a great deal. After she sold her business, we took this building and revamped it to work for us, to make it comfortable, safe, pleasurable for people who come in," says Belli.

Antiques on Second draws daily shoppers from Madison and Chicago, including other dealers and regular antique buyers. "We find that we're becoming a destination," Belli says.

"Antiques on Second carries antiques for the 'everyman' – you don't need to be rich to shop here," says Alferi.

Kelsenberg and Belli work with every dealer to pick out and set up an area in the mall that best suits them and their items. Dealers are charged a flat rate of $1.50 per square foot for spaces that range from 8x10 to 18x25 feet. Entire showcases are also available for dealers from $45 to $60 per month. Dealers can even rent out individual shelves in shared cases.

Belli says they wanted a mix of the "antique with the modern," and that includes providing a typical retail setting for customers. They have two cash registers to help people check out quickly.

"And when you buy your treasure, you get it wrapped for you," Belli says.

Belli and Kelsenberg encourage their customers to spend the day in the neighborhood, visiting neighborhood restaurants and other antique shops. They even provide a guide to other antique shops in the area.

"You don't have to spend a penny to come in, laugh and enjoy the treasures, bring some memories, park here all day," Belli says.

Belli and Kelsenberg value being good neighbors and citizens. They have a kitchen seating area on the first floor with free cookies and coffee and invite a certified appraiser, Christopher Luedke, every other Saturday to evaluate people's stuff. Luedke will next be at Antiques on Second on Saturday, June 4.

There is a consignment area on the third floor. "Billie (Dyszeski, Consignments Manager) has it set up so nice in here, it really draws you in and makes you look. Where else can you see a vintage floor lamp, a Heywood Wakefield buffet and a plastic robot all within 10 feet?" says Belli.

Belli says there are also a lot of works by local artists in the consignment area, including some of his own. Belli is a woodworker and also owns Belli Furniture Works.

Other businesses in the mall include National Sign and Design and Opening Night Gifts, which retired stagehand Ric Halterman originally opened to sell things mostly for the theater crowd. Now he has broadened his business to include all kinds of theater-related items for everyone, as well as handmade cards.

Antiques on Second is also a family affair: Kelly, Kelsenberg's husband, maintains a booth with many vinyl recordings and sells and repairs clocks in a corner of the second floor. Kelsenberg's sister, Diana, has an enormous selection of cookie jars – plastic, ceramic and metal – in shapes ranging from bunnies to Harley Davidson motorcycles. Belli's wife, Cheryl, also has dealer space in the mall.

Both Belli and Kelsenberg say that folks tend to develop into antique dealers by first being collectors – of anything. It's when a person has accumulated more than they have space for that they take the next step and become dealers, either having garage sales, or renting spaces in antique malls. They may have boxes and boxes of the stuff at home.

"All of a sudden, your collection gets too big and you need to downsize," says Kelsenberg. "Or you need to upgrade your collection, so you open up a space in an antique mall to help with the excess, and you're hooked."

Kelsenberg started her own collecting with "Evening in Paris," a popular World War II-era perfume that was sold in cobalt blue bottles. She also collects "cat things."

"Because I have cats," Kelsenberg says, with a smile. "'Cat things' covers a lot, from ceramics and porcelains to toys."

Belli, who collects "guy stuff" like old woodworking hand tools, loves collecting and also sees it as a service, akin to a public good.

"We're the original recyclers," Belli says. He holds up his 35-year-old metal tape measure. "Lots of people have a newer, plastic tape measure from someplace like Menard's, and there's nothing wrong with those, but this one also works just fine."

Big sellers include vintage clothes and Belli says 30 or 40 percent of their sales are 20- or 30-somethings buying clothing. Christmas items and, lately, meat grinders are also sought after.

"We're starting to see crystal come back, especially for graduation and wedding gifts" Belli says. "People are giving things that are made well, and they see these vintage items as things that will last."