Shawn Liggett-Torres has known for several years she was going to one day open an antique store. What she didn’t know until recently is she would open it in 2020 during the middle of a global pandemic.
Despite the odds stacked against her due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Liggett-Torres recently made her dream come true when she opened Past to Present Emporium next to the historic Tioga Building on North Broadway.
“This was something I always wanted to do, but I always thought it would be later in life,” Liggett-Torres said. “But it was the right time.”
After selling antiques and collectibles at Leaf’s Treehouse for the last few years, Liggett-Torres said a variety of things made it the right time to open her own business. So earlier this month, she made the plunge.
Inside Past to Present Emporium, guests can see a variety of wares for sale. Ranging from large cabinets, tables and even an 1890 bed to collectibles and dishes, there looks to be something for everyone at prices ranging from $5 to close to $1,000.
Liggett-Torres said she got into antiquing because of her personal interest. She said she enjoyed going to yard sales and swap meets and was always looking for something old.
“I like old stuff, especially anything that’s feminine,” Liggett-Torres said. “Some of my furniture is very feminine.”
Like many antique hobbyists, Liggett-Torres said her passion soon grew to an obsession. When her house became too full, she started dabbling in selling. And with each item sold, there was another one to buy.
She said she continues to work closely with Leaf’s Treehouse and the Old World Antiques. She said working with, rather than against, other businesses in town can benefit them all.
“With all of us together, it creates this destination shopping experience,” Liggett-Torres said. “I’m definitely learning. I do appreciate Old World Antiques. They have been a great resource. When it comes to antiques, the more the better.”
Liggett-Torres said her store has a variety of options for shoppers.
“I do a focus on antiques and vintage, but I also focus on local art,” she said. “Every artist I have in here is from here.”
Liggett-Torres said she loves her location next to the Tioga because it is ideal for tourists in the warmer months and easy to find for local residents. She said the improvements on the Tioga will turn the apartments into more of an upper-class housing, which could drive sales at her store.
She said one surprising thing she has learned selling antiques is everyone seems to like them.
“We’re finding people of all ages are coming into stores like this,” Liggett-Torres said. “They like it repurposed.”
While COVID has delayed some of the plans Liggett-Torres has, she said when things return to normal, she has big plans.
“When COVID starts going away, we want to start having classes,” she explained. “We’re about to do our first crafting class. We’re going to do it virtually. We’re trying to be creative during the time of COVID.”
Liggett-Torres is also planning to do live videos at 5 p.m. every Friday to showcase some of the items in the store. If someone sees something they like in the videos, purchases can be made digitally with curbside pickup.
While many of the items in the store are owned by Liggett-Torres, she has also offered space to others to sell their antique finds. Several dealers are set up already, and she hopes more will find a home in Past to Present Emporium.
“I’m definitely looking for more dealers,” Liggett-Torres said. “They rent a space. In most antique stores, that’s what is happening. You sell it for them.”
In addition to the antiques, Liggett-Torres has allowed local artisans to sell their wares in the store. Some of those include her own soaps. She said she started making her own soap because she has sensitive skin but soon had friends asking if they could buy some. Her collection — Torres Soaps — now includes bath soaps, lotions, oils, bath bombs potpourri and more.
Past to Present Emporium is located at 247 N. Broadway and is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays.