DETROIT, Maine — Paul and Maureen Greene have been making a living together for years.
First, they bought houses, fixed them up and sold them for a profit. Then the real estate market went bust and they began an antiques auction business. Then Maureen survived a bout with cancer, which reminded her and her husband that they ought to spend their time doing something they enjoy.
So on Feb. 18, they bought the former Spotlight Pavilion Roller Skating Rink on Route 100 in Detroit.
“I think some of our friends were scared for us about buying this building,” said Maureen. “Maybe they’re still scared.”
The cavernous hall has hosted thousands of roller skaters dating back to the 1950s, and it was showing its age. Its renovation needs would have scared away many potential buyers, but not the Greenes and their long experience rehabilitating homes. Looking over the building one day in early February, they were trying to envision it as a headquarters for their auction business, but it was too big.
That night, Maureen couldn’t sleep.
“I kept thinking, ‘What can we do to bring in some more revenue with the space?” she said. “I kept doing all the figures in my head … and then it was just like a light bulb going on.”
Maureen’s idea, which less than two months later is about to become reality, was to open an antiques mall where dealers and hobbyists could rent small spaces to sell their wares. Paul said he supported the idea right away. “My wife had a vision,” he said.
As tenants in several antique malls over the years — which they said was more of a hobby than a job — the Greenes went into the venture with a vision of what they wanted: bright lights, handicapped accessibility, a security system, comfortable bathrooms, energy-efficient heat, free coffee and a low-pressure sales approach.
With several days left before their scheduled April 1 opening, the Greenes have rented all but a few of their 35 available booths, including 10 rental agreements signed last week alone.
“We’re pretty confident about it,” said Paul. “We did our homework.”
Like many antique retail shops, the range of items for sale at Roller Rink Antiques Mall is vast. With many of the vendors still working on setting up their spaces last week, there was everything from old books to toys to jewelry to ornate furniture. To add to the selection, the Greenes intend to start an outdoor flea market on the grounds this summer.
Roller Rink Antique Mall will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week beginning April 1. For information, call 487-5565.
Because the old rink is such a prominent local landmark, foot traffic in the door has been steady. Many people talk about their days in the building roller skating in circles or kissing in a corner.
“When people walk through the door, you can see by the look on their faces that they’re surprised about all the changes,” said Maureen. To preserve a hint of the past, the rink’s disco ball still hangs over the registers. It’s not for sale.