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A return to roots for Bridge Street antique shops

  • Collectors Gallery and Valley Antiques on Bridge Street in Northampton Thursday.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Berkshire Yogurt, at the corner of Main and Market Streets in Northampton Thursday.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

Susan Krieger of Belchertown, the daughter of longtime owner August Woicekoski, said the renovations under way are in honor of her father, who will soon turn 93.

The space for the two antique stores, Collector Galleries and Valley Antiques, will be smaller, but Krieger said they won’t change in character.

“They are a throwback to memories and grandparents; there isn’t anything you can’t find,” Krieger said in a recent telephone interview. Krieger, her husband, Carl Krieger, and her sisters, Leslie Durkee and Debbie Hall, manage the property together. The building is owned by her parents.

Collector Galleries is now open, but it is unclear when Valley Antiques will be open again for business, according to Krieger.

“We have been here over 40 years, and we will continue to have the same people who have been coming for so long visit for many, many years to come,” Krieger said.

Renovation work began in March 2012, prompted in part by damage from a fire that took place three years ago.

When asked what the renovations entail, Krieger said: “Everything. The building needed a whole new support system structurally, and the two top floors are being made into townhouse apartments.”

Krieger said the two antique shops will be now be smaller, which is allowing the owners to create three commercial spaces already available to rent, though renovations are just beginning in those spaces. The spaces are not yet rented out — Krieger said she does not know what type of shops will move in.

In addition, renovation to create five townhouse apartments on the top floor of the building has been completed, with three already rented. “It has been a lot of work, and as the renovation process has evolved, building codes have changed, which really backs things up,” she said.

August Woicekoski, a Pearl Harbor survivor, bought the property in the late 1960s. He ran a coin and stamp shop on the first floor of the building until about five years ago. The top floor was an art gallery that expanded to include antiques. Krieger says she views the building as an important piece of Northampton history. “For so many years the coin shop was a gathering place for townspeople. I don’t know whether my father did more business or more socializing.” Krieger hopes the renovation will bring in customers not only to the antique businesses, but to the Market Street area. “Northampton isn’t just downtown. I hope it generates more interest in areas beyond Main Street, and that it will be good not just for us, but the other businesses around us too.”

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