Mt. Pleasant VFW building sold, new business is planned
Through the years, Kim Canterberry's favorite hobby has involved traveling to flea markets, antique shops and yard sales with friends to search for that special item to help spruce up her home decor.
“Usually, I would do that on Saturdays,” said Canterberry, a Unity resident.
Over time, Canterberry began dreaming of one day running her own business to market a variety of sentimental wares from times gone by.
Now Canterberry's dream is about to be realized.
In early April, she is preparing to open a new business in Mt. Pleasant with the fitting name of “Saturday's Treasures Fleatique Mall.”
“It's going to be a combination flea market and antiques shop,” Canterberry said.
“I felt I had good ideas to create a fleatique of my own. I have an eye for decor, I pay attention to detail, I think presentation is very important, and I like to create things.”
The operation will be located at the building which long has housed the Mt. Pleasant VFW Post 3368 at 416 W. Main St.
Canterberry and her husband, John, in mid-January purchased the brick structure with a total interior space of 10,000 square-feet.
“From time to time, we'd look for a large building for sale in Westmoreland, Fayette and Somerset counties,” she said.
“This is one of the largest buildings with parking in Mt. Pleasant.”
When the couple learned of the VFW building being for sale in late 2013, they took a look and made the decision to buy it less than a month later.
“We had a vision of how nice it could be,” Canterberry said.
An early April opening is being planned.
The business will be open Tuesday through Sunday, Canterberry said.
Business to serve as site for 125 vendors
Mt. Pleasant has always been the Canterberry's favorite town, she said.
The couple lived here from 2007 to 2011 and still own a house in the borough where their daughter, Melody Ullah, currently lives.
“I just think it's a quaint town with friendly people,” Canterberry said.
Highlighting Canterberry's collection of wares are glass baskets, goblets, punch bowls and pitchers produced by employees of the former L.E. Smith Glass Co., one of Mt. Pleasant's vaunted glass houses.
“We purchased a large stock of L.E. Smith glass. They are all various colors, and that's what makes them so exquisite,” she said. “That's a part of Mt. Pleasant history.”
In all, roughly 125 vendors from Connellsville, Uniontown, Scottdale, Greensburg, Pittsburgh and the Mon Valley are currently under review for inclusion to sell their wares at the business, Canterberry said.
“We have vendors coming from far and wide. Many of them create their own furniture and paintings,” she said.
Canterberry said she is personally interviewing each potential vendor.
“We don't want too many of the same items. We want unique items, and we especially value the craftsmen who create things,” she said.
Additional items to be made available will include Amish-made, refurbished and antique styles of furniture and name brand candles, along with clocks, lamps, mirrors, figurines and vintage linens, dinnerware, hand-crafted jewelry and historic photographs, Canterberry said.
“It's a vast variety. I have a couple vendors who said they even have historic pictures of Mt. Pleasant,” she said.
An artist will also be present to paint portraits of people's pets, she said.
“People can drop off pictures (of their pets) and she will paint replicas,” Canterberry said. “She has quite a talent.”
Vending is a family affair
In addition to operating the business, Canterberry will run a booth there to be called “Pinky's,” she said.
“I have a variety of Victorian items, like antique furniture,” she said. “My personal favorite is the shabby chic look, like lace and pink roses and hurricane lamps, which are very popular right now.”
Canterberry will also offer rustic country wares such as miniature painted benches, accent furniture and country floral items, she said.
“That's more checkered curtains, sunflowers ... more of a comfortable setting,” she said.
Canterberry's son, Frank Christopher of Unity, will also operate a vending booth to be called “Two Dudes,” which will feature sporting goods, outdoor recreation and wilderness survival gear, cutlery, and hunting/fishing/camping equipment.
“It's a different market for this kind of audience,” Christopher said.
On business days, the operation will be staffed by volunteers such as family friend Mary Elliott of Hempfield, who will also have a vending booth there with her sister, Irwin's Sherry Biskup.
“I look forward to it,” Elliott said. “It will be a fun place to go, and it will bring a lot more interest to the Mt. Pleasant area. I just know Kim will make it so welcoming to be there.”
Another way Canterberry will try to do so is by offering Libby Lou's Cafe at the site, named after Libby, the couple's Boxer-mix dog.
“We're going to have coffee, bagels, snack items, soup and sandwiches there,” she said.
Owner offers space rent-free to VFW
As the local VFW post continues to search for a new location in town, the Canterberrys will offer its members the space where the bar is located rent-free.
“We're allowing them extra time at the facility because we have respect for military veterans,” Kim Canterberry said.
U.S. Army Reserve Maj. Promotable Brian Barnhart of East Huntingdon — the post's commander since 2012 — said he welcomes the Canterberrys' offer.
“They're good people. It's very much appreciated. The building we're moving into isn't ready yet,” Barnhart said.
Borough Mayor Jerry Lucia said many of the VFW post's longtime members were veterans of both World War II and the Korean War who have passed away.
“The times have changed to make things happen this way,” Lucia said. “If everything goes as planned, this new business will bring a lot of people into town.”
Local leaders welcome new operation
Mt. Pleasant Borough Council President Joe Bauer oversaw the purchase of the former VFW building by the Canterberrys.
“I think you'll have another business there which is going to be good for Mt. Pleasant,” Bauer said.
Borough Manager Jeff Landy noted that the Canterberrys have more in mind than just doing business in the borough.
“Both new business owners seem to be really set on jumping in and being part of the community,” he said.
Lucia added that the recent developments are promising for the future of the borough and the business district along the Main Street thoroughfare.
“For us, as the leaders of the town, this just makes us feel that much better, secure and safe; we're just really pleased with the way things turned out,” Lucia said. “It's been said that we have to do something for our business district. Well, it's being done, and proof of that comes with what's happening with these businesses.”
Canterberry said she is excited to get started.
“I've been very pleased with the outpouring of excitement that I've gotten talking to vendors and community members,” she said. “I'm very proud to be part of the economy here and to help stimulate Mt. Pleasant.”
Interested vendors are asked to call 724-243-5020.
A.J. Panian is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-547-5722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.