The neatly arranged antique booths in Lyndsey and T.K. Adams’ second Owl’s Nest location would hardly be recognizable to customers of the former Boyles Joyland Flea Market.
Over the past year, the couple has transformed the store at 2901 S.E. Adams where the flea market once sold everything from used furniture to lawn mowers. Where pickers used to sort through a hodgepodge to find something unique, antique buyers now have their choice of more than 100 vendor booths. The revamp of the former grocery store turned flea market was a labor of love for the Adamses, a Texas couple who have made Topeka home.
“We’ve had an amazing response,” she said. “We’re just so thankful to everyone who has supported us.”
In 2018, the couple plans to redo outside signage, repave the front half of the parking lot and add coffee and food options .
The Adamses bought Boyles Flea Market in December 2016 as it was and immediately set about cleaning out the flea market’s wide-ranging inventory, which included dozens of lawn mowers, furniture, and freezer and cooler units from Harry’s IGA grocery store, the original tenant of the building. Lyndsey estimated several tons were hauled away in the first few months of 2017.
Though the couple planned to do most of the work on their own, including the remodeling, they had quite a lot of help. Vendors from the original Owl’s Nest, still open at 3411 S.W. Topeka Blvd., often stopped by to clean.
“They would see our cars here and show up and say, ‘Hey, you need help taking trash out? Hey, you need help tearing out that wall?’ ” she said. “It was really a group effort getting us here.”
After cleaning out the remaining flea market items, the couple expected to spend about $150,00 to $200,000 remodeling the building, but Lyndsey said that figure rapidly ballooned nearly three times. The bulk of that cost came from replacing the roof and floor and adding centralized heating and air conditioning. The Adamses also installed new bathrooms and will add a new sign later this year.
The end result is a brightly lit, open-ceiling antique mall with space for more than 200 vendors. Fewer than 15 spots are open, Lyndsey said. The Adamses have held on to some pieces of the building’s past. A large taxidermy wolf poses over booths in back, and this year the couple hopes to restore the Harry’s IGA sign in the parking lot.
“I think some people like the old flea market style, but that wasn’t the way we wanted to run it,” she said. “We wanted to start over and make it our own.”
Boyles Joyland Flea Market moved into the building at S.E. 29th and Adams in late 1997 from a location on S.E. California that sold concrete statuary, dry ice, portable signs and Christmas trees.
For years customers of the Highland Crest Post Office at 2921 S.E. Adams had grown used to parking in spots on the Owl’s Nest property when the limited parking near the post office filled up. But the Adamses put a stop to that last year because of liability issues, they said. Instead, they wanted the Post post office to lease spaces in their lot.
A post office employee allegedly retaliated by blocking the Owl’s Nest dumpster with an official vehicle, and some post office customers were upset.
Post office officials haven’t responded to requests to lease Owl’s Nest spots, Lyndsey said. In November, the Adamses offered some spots for free to the post office if a liability form was signed, but the offer wasn’t accepted, Lyndsey said.
“It’s a safety issue,” she said. “We don’t want to see anyone slip on the ice or get hurt on our property.”
Brian Sperry, U.S. Postal Service spokesman for the Kansas region, said the post office is “actively looking at its options to provide better customer access to the location and hope to have a resolution soon.” Leasing decisions are made only by the Area Facilities Office, not at the local level.
Despite the parking controversy, Lyndsey said most people in the neighborhood have made positive comments about the Adamses’ efforts to clean up the lot at the busy corner.
“Most of the people who come in here live on this side of town,” she said. “We’ve heard a lot of people tell us they’re happy to see what we’ve done with this corner.”
The property sits on the edge of the HiCrest neighborhood where Neighborhood Improvement Association president Joe Ledbetter has called on the city and property owners to curb blight and maintain properties.
“It’s good to see commercial property owners upgrading their property,” he said. “I’m sure it’s helping the neighborhood, and it looks like they’ve put in a lot of effort there.”
When the couple arrived in Topeka, T.K., a retired Marine, said they had few plans to make the city home. At the time he was based at Forbes Field on a three-year assignment.
In 2015, Lyndsey, who had sold antiques in Texas, wanted to get back into the trade but wasn’t satisfied being a vendor again. So the couple cashed in some of their savings and sold T.K.’s Harley Davidson (Lyndsey is quick to report he has since purchased a replacement motorcycle) to buy their original Owl’s Nest location. The location proved successful, with an extensive vendor waiting list.
“I thought we’d be here three years and then off to the next duty,” T.K. said. “Now we’re here and people have welcomed us like this was always our home.”
Contact reporter Luke Ranker at (785) 295-1270 or @lrankerNEWS on Twitter. Like him on Facebook atfacebook.com/lukeranker.