Welcome back to Houston Historic Retail folks, today we have some very sad news and a photo dump of a very odd store. It Looks like the final end is in sight for Thompson’s Antique Center and no unfortunately this is not an April Fools joke. After their surprise going out of business sale last December, things looked up for the antique mall. A new location had been announced via Facebook, the former Louis Shank’s store at 2800 Fondren would provide ample space to house the large ranks of vendors the former JCPenney was able to fit. Over the next couple of months, occasional updates would be posted to the antique center’s Facebook. Including some photos showing how good the interior space was still looking after a 5-year vacancy. The building had most previously held Get Furniture, a 2-year attempt at a continuation of long-time San Antonio-based furniture retailer, Louis Shanks since 1994. Although, the building was originally constructed to serve as a new home for Suniland Furniture. A by-gone name in the Houston retail scape, but once the dominant force of Houston’s high-end furniture scene.
While Thompson’s has not given a public reason for pulling out of the project, Facebook comments, state it was related to an annually raising lease price making the business unsustainable. Unofficially, some of the vendors I spoke with during the going out of business sale were less than optimistic that the new location would pan out (this was prior to the announcement of the Louis Shanks facility). Citing a lack of intent on the owner’s part. According to the vendor, The Thompsons had received a good bit of advanced notice that they would need to vacate, but waited to begin their search too long, and were thus unable to find a facility in time. I should reiterate that this is all hearsay, and may not accurately reflect real-life challenges experienced in the real estate market with the unexpected addition of a global pandemic to the mix. Whether or not, the latter is the case, the reality is that some attempts were being made to work on the new space. Barriers that were placed around the facility after the final tenants moved out were removed from one entry, and a hand-painted sign with the building’s address and directions for drivers had also been recently added.
The exit of the antique center from the project leaves many questions, with one of them being what will become of the former furniture store? While no plans have been announced, the lot is still up for sale or lease. The former Luby’s next door was recently sold to the owners of the Savoir Restaurant in the Heights, with plans to convert it into a Banquet Hall. While no concrete plans have been released for 2800 Fondren, redevelopment is likely. Shortly after GET Furniture (the short-lived renaming of Houston’s Louis Shanks) closed in 2018 rumors that a senior housing company was going to redevelop the lot, although fell through. In the meantime, enjoy some unreleased photos I took of the property in 2019.