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Prospect Park antique store re-opens after closing due to pandemic

Claire Steyaert Antiques is a shop with unique collectibles from across the world.
Image by Andrew Stoup
The interior of Claire Steyaert Antiques on Saturday, March 12. Claire Steyaert Antiques had its Grand Reopening on Saturday after being appointment only since the start of COVID-19.

At the Claire Steyaert Antiques & Design grand reopening on March 12, owner Claire Steyaert, dressed in all black with bright red glasses, greeted each customer, offering drinks and chocolates. A variety of guests attended, many taking advantage of the refreshments as they browsed through the antiques.

The Prospect Park antique store, located in the Arts & Architecture building, reopened after being closed for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the last two years, Steyaert opened her store for clients who requested appointments to shop. Now, the antique shop is open Thursday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. or by appointment.

Steyaert and Tim Carroll, the antique store’s marketer, said they were excited to reopen the store to the public. Carroll said the grand reopening was a celebration of the store, but more importantly, a celebration of Steyaert and her hard work.

For weeks before the reopening, Steyaert and Carroll cleaned, reorganized and set up the store. After two years, Carroll said they’d collected many new antiques to sell.

“We have spent days vacuuming and cleaning to prepare for the customers to come back,” Carroll said.

Steyeart said she organizes the store to make the pieces flow together. For example, she will place antique three-tiered dessert platters on a dining table and arrange hand-painted antique chairs as if they are in a living room. She said she wants people to be able to picture the pieces in their homes.

The store has a variety of collectibles, some dating back as far as the 17th century. Almost every piece has a hand-written card by Steyaert with a brief explanation including the year or decade it is from.

Along with the antiques, Steyaert also sells art from local artists, such as Louis Safer.

Steyaert, originally from Belgium, studied art history at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium. She used to travel across the world with her husband, an art history professor, and it was during their trips that she became interested in art and antiques. Twenty-six years ago, they settled in Minnesota when her husband got a job at the University of Minnesota.

She said with her experience, she can determine the decade and origin of most pieces.

“I can tell if something is Italian or French by looking at it,” Steyaert said.

There’s a lot more to antiquing than many people may assume, Steyaert said. To run an antique store, you need knowledge of history and art styles as well as traditional business skills.

Steyaert has been in the antique business for 35 years and opened her store in Prospect Park 12 years ago. Throughout the years, University students have interned for her shop. She’s also accompanied some art history students on their study abroads in France.

The Arts & Architecture building is also home to a used merchandise store, Art & Architecture, and Glam Diggers Vintage, a vintage clothing store.

“It was never intentional for all of our vendors to be all vintage and second hand related, but we are a very eclectic mix of a little bit of everything,” said Tim Engles, the manager of Art & Architecture.

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