|By Eric C. Rodenberg
MARINE CITY, Mich. – Longtime antiques dealers Jeanie and Jay Carrothers believes now is the time to “make the move” into auctioneering.
The Carrothers have played an active role in the transformation of the downtown of this southeastern town (pop. 4,248) into a popular antiquing town. There are about 10 antiques shops, supported by good restaurants and cozy bars downtown.
As owners of the downtown Water Street Antiques shop for the past 12 years, Jay Carrothers said four years ago the couple saw a need for a high-end auction house in the area.
“Really, the closest quality auction house is in Detroit (about an hour west of Marine City),” Carrothers said. “We’ve watched the downtown grow and a new hotel is opening just down the street. There’s a lot of interest in antiques here and we know what the people like.”
Hence, Water Street Antiques has become Water Street Auctions.
During the past decade, Marine City was highly promoted by local entrepreneur Gary Kohs, who was instrumental in organizing the Guinness Records’ “longest strand of popcorn stretched between two countries.” This successful gimmick drew national attention in October 2016, as Marine City Mayor Raymond Skotarczyk stood on the U.S. side of the St. Clair River and held the string as it was passed to the mayor of St. Clair Township in Ontario.
“Gary was a very good friend of mine,” Carrothers said. “He had traveled the world, promoting various products. When he retired, he declared he was now going to promote Marine City. He bought and renovated an old 1920s theatre and that really brought people downtown.”
Kohs died unexpectedly in late 2017 at the age of 73. “He really inspired me,” Carrothers said.
He became inspired enough to put together Water Street Auctions first sale scheduled for April 13. The actual job of calling bids will fall to some of the couple’s friends who are auctioneers. Carrothers job will be to find the inventory, which he said will be no problem.
“In the last 12-13 years, I’ve met hundreds of people,” Carrothers said. “You know, most collectors are potentially hoarders, usually ending up collecting more than what they really need. But, by being fair and honest in my business, I’ve won the respect and friendship of many antique collectors in the lower part of southeastern Michigan.
“I have a good pipeline to good quality material. It’s not going to be an issue. I’ll also take consignments, but I want to limit ourselves to three, four, maybe five auctions a year.”
The April 13 auction is a good start for Water Street Auctions, featuring about 250 lots of several antique toys, a miniature hit-and-miss engine, an older Keystone firetruck and an “unbelievable” carved marble table, according to Carrothers.
“It will be all high-quality material,” he said. “My specialties in the antique shop, and what I’m looking for, include better quality Persian rugs, coins, firearms, advertising and nautical items.”
Water Street Auctions, at 204 S. Water St., will operate out of what was the former antique shop, built in the 1890s as Zimmerman’s Hardware. The building is comprised of 12,000 square feet. Auctions will be conducted on the first floor of the old hardware store, with its 14-foot-high ornate tin ceiling covering a 3,000 square foot area.
Across the street from the auction house is the St. Clair River, which serves as an international shipping zone. “It may be about 200 feet or so away,” Carrothers said. “But, when those big ships come through they’re right in your face.”
Not many auction houses can claim that distinction.
For more information call (810) 335-9428