Preservation Station

January 25, 2014 in Editorials

An Elementary School Transformed
by a Retail Vision

Preservation Station is a former elementary school located in Owensboro, Ky., soon to become a premier antique, vintage, handcrafted, re-purposed, and retail item hot spot. Owned and operated by Deborah Coomes and her daughter Jennifer Higdon, the mother-daughter partners had a vision for this facility way before the building, the former West Louisville Elementary School, was sold at auction in April 2012. The two had always wanted to open a curiosity shop filled with antiques, vintage finds, and wonderful bargains; the two never dreamed they would end up buying a 39,000-square-foot elementary school together for that purpose.

“When I found out the building was going to be auctioned off, my imagination ran wild,” says Jennifer Higdon. “I wanted to create a wonderful place with nostalgia for the past that would honor my ancestors and the people from this area of the county. I knew it was a big crazy dream, and I knew I had a slim chance of making it happen, but something inside me just kept saying I was being called to do this.”

Jennifer Higdon began quietly sharing her dream with a few people. Her biggest supporter was, of course, her mother. “I believed in the dream too,” says Deborah Coomes. “I wanted it just as bad, because I dove into the journey with my daughter with equal determination and sometimes greater determination. When Jennifer was discouraged, I’d pick her up and we’d keep putting one foot in front of the other.”

“When you buy an elementary school at auction, plan on spending a long time with architects, engineers, and building code inspectors,” says Jennifer Higdon. “We had a beautiful vision, but we didn’t know quite what we had gotten ourselves into. Luckily, we had some mighty good people step up to help us on our journey- particularly Ben Grove of Hafer Associates and Jim Riney of HRG PLLC. It really has been an amazing faith-filled journey. Just when we have needed certain people, the people just seemed to materialize out of thin air- perfect strangers with just the skills we needed to make it through to the next step.”

After a year and a half and many updates to the facility, the two finally received approval from the city to occupy the former elementary school as a retail facility and a community event center in June of 2013. Since then the two have been busy at work with cosmetic updates to the facility.

Debbie and Jennifer hope to have the facility wide open in late spring of 2014. Meanwhile, dealers can start contacting them about booth information, and the public can contact them about gym rental information.

Meanwhile the two are hosting Market Days the first weekend of every month, Saturday 8-4 and Sunday 12-4. The first Market Days event in December drew 35 vendors from several different counties and states and a ton of supporters and shoppers. Market Days the remainder of the year will be held Feb. 1 & 2, Mar 1 & 2, Apr 5 & 6, May 3 & 4, June 7 & 8, July 5 & 6, Aug 2 & 3, Sept 6 & 7, Oct 4 & 5, Nov 1 & 2, and Dec 6 & 7. All booth rental is priced at $25 for an 8 x 8 space and $40 for a 10 x 10 space.

“Finally being able to open this business will seem like the end of a fairy tale, but I know it’s just the start of a new story in our lives,” says Jennifer Higdon. “We are looking forward it and all the wonderful people who will become characters in this new chapter.”

Deborah Coomes has spent her life in Owensboro, raising three children. In her twenties and thirties she enjoyed time as a lead singer in several bands opening up for some major acts and singing at a local restaurant with a pianist, providing dinner music, all while being active in the church and leading the teen choir. In her forties, she went back to school to become an RN and has worked at a local hospital. She currently works as a nurse manager in a veterans care facility. She was president of a local coalition in Owensboro when it received a million dollar grant to fight drug abuse by educating youth. She is married to David (Bucky) Coomes. It was her who instilled a passion for bargain shopping in her daughter, Jennifer.

Jennifer Higdon, daughter of Deborah Coomes, has spent over 17 years in education, working with teenagers and teachers as a teacher and a staff developer. She co-owns The Tot, the Teen, and the Wardrobe Seasonal Consignment Sale (www.ttwky.com) with her sister-in-law, Stephanie Higdon. She is married to Scott Higdon, and together they have three children.

Jennifer says, “We owe getting this far to our husbands, my brothers, family, friends, and neighbors. Without all the hard labor they have given to us, we would not be this close to opening. Thank God for hard-working, giving, loving people.”

To contact Preservation Station, call 1-270-993-7532, visit them on Facebook at Preservation Station Market and Event Center, or visit their website at www.visitpreservationstation.com.

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