By Starrla Cray
WAVERLY, MN For Mary Chris Gallo and her husband, John LaMere, antique shopping is a thrill like no other.
“We’re really looking forward to having people come in and experience what we experience,” said Gallo.
She and LaMere are the owners of Behind the Moon Antiques in downtown Waverly, slated to open Thursday, May 1. Visitors are welcome to stop by the first and third weekend of each month, Thursday through Sunday.
“We’re going to have fresh-baked cookies and coffee going all the time,” Gallo said.
Shopping is designed to be a relaxing, nostalgic experience. Runner sleds, rocking horses, gumball machines, and schoolhouse desks are a few of the many items that beckon customers to step back in time.
The late 19th century building, which was home to the old State Bank of Waverly (and later to Citizens State Bank), is also an attraction.
“It was just begging to be an antique store,” Gallo said.
Although the building at 407 Elm Ave. hasn’t been used as a bank in more than 40 years, the old deposit counter and teller window are still in place.
“We’re very fortunate that it was still here,” LaMere said.
He and Gallo purchased the building in November, and spent the winter cleaning, painting, and installing/upgrading heat and air conditioning.
The couple currently resides in Farmington, but they plan to move to the upper level of the store after it’s been restored.
“We’re hoping to create a little oasis,” Gallo said.
Throughout the process, they plan to preserve the historic nature of the building including the old bank vault. Although the door doesn’t lock anymore, inspection stickers on the interior wall are still intact.
LaMere and Gallo have been antique enthusiasts for many years.
“Both of us started out just collecting, not with the intent to sell,” Gallo said.
“I started with camera collecting in the mid ‘80s,” recalled LaMere, who is a wildlife photographer.
For Gallo, the fascination began while trying to find items like the ones at her parents’ cabin, which was named Behind the Moon.
“I wasn’t interested in antiques at all until 1990,” she said.
Gallo found that the more she searched, the more she enjoyed the process. Among her favorite collectables are the “Dick and Jane” books from the 1960s, in both the traditional and Cathedral (Catholic) versions. She has 30 titles in her collection, and continues looking for copies that are in better condition.
“That’s the fun part the searching,” she said.
One of LaMere’s newest interests is collecting old branding irons, which feature a logo or letter specific to the ranch.
“Each one’s different,” he said.
The southwestern states have several hot spots for antiquing, and LaMere and Gallo enjoy traveling to these locations. They typically visit nature preserves and wildlife refuges at sunrise and sunset (for wildlife photography), and spend the middle of the day perusing shops.
“We’ve done pretty well on those trips,” LaMere said.
Sharing the joy
As their hobby grew, LaMere and Gallo toyed with the idea of starting their own shop.
“She’s always made reference to ‘when I have my antique store,’” LaMere said.
“It started off as kind of a joke,” Gallo added.
They considered waiting until retirement (LaMere is a printer at RR Donnelley in Chanhassen, and Gallo is a loan officer in the Twin Cities), but then decided to start the store while working full time.
They found the Waverly bank building through a search on the Multiple Listing Services (MLS) website more than a year ago, and eventually took the leap and made the purchase.
At Behind the Moon Antiques, Gallo and LaMere hope to give customers the same feeling of nostalgia and discovery they’ve experienced at antique shops.
“I’m never happier than when I’m antique shopping,” Gallo said. “If people can come in our store and feel that way, that would be great.”Behind the Moon Antiques
Where: 407 Elm Ave. in Waverly (the old bank building).
When: The occasional store will be open the first and third weekend of each month, starting Thursday, May 1.
Hours: Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
What: Glassware, vintage cameras, collectibles, furniture.
Contact: (952) 250-6424, and on Facebook.