Variety is the spice of life.
Anyone who walks into Cooper’s Variety Mall in downtown Morristown will agree with the vast selection of antiques, arts and crafts, jewelry, furniture and classic toys. With 58 booths on both floors of the store, it’s difficult to walk out without finding something that catches the eye.
“We have everything from antiques to handcrafted items to electronics,” said Steve Cooper, owner of Cooper’s Variety Mall. “We have almost everything.”
Cooper said his store is more than just antiques.
“People call this an antiques mall. This is a variety mall,” he said. “We have a variety of stuff – and that’s what we wanted.”
Cooper’s Variety Mall works with independent vendors to sell their wares to visitors. The store started with just seven vendors, but has grown to 59 in a few years.
“We have flea markets inside here, and we have crafts here,” he said. “We have people who just have antiques they want to get rid of.
“We take care of the hard work for them. We handle the space, taxes and everything else.”
Cooper also said his vendors work well together, and will assist customers with their needs – even if they cannot provide the service themselves.
“Our vendors will take customers to other vendors if they need help, or to find something they can’t provide themselves,” he said.
Cooper said he never knows what items will come through his door, from the mundane to the weird.
“I get new stuff in every day. I’m surprised by what they bring in here,” he said. “I can’t say some of the things people have tried to bring in here.”
Cooper and his family moved to the Lakeway Area from Dayton, Ohio in 1993 without much knowledge of antiques. Prior to getting into antiques, he started Dimension Computers, which repairs and builds computers and laptops.
However, he was willing to learn about them – and the more he learned, the more he fell in love with them. Cooper’s wife then started a small thrift store in Bean Station before taking over six years ago.
“I was into computers, then I got into buying stuff a little bit,” he said. “I bought the business from my wife six years ago, because she didn’t want it anymore.
“The more I got into antiques, the more I wanted to do it.”
However, Cooper’s dream was to have a business downtown in Morristown. He found a space on West Main Street, but was worried he couldn’t afford the building – or anything needed to keep it going.
“I prayed about it. If God wanted me to be successful, it’s meant to be,” Cooper said. “I got a small computer job the next day, and I was able to pay for (the building).
“I always wanted to get me a business here in downtown. It took me 15 years, but I got it.”
Cooper said his faith and the faith of his employees has created a Christian, family-friendly environment for customers who walk through his doors. He said people who aren’t customers have come to the store as a place of refuge