An end of an era for Beverly Franklin, Renton antique district

Beverly Franklin will close her Cedar Chest Antique Mall after Christmas Eve, following a weeks-long sale of antiques at her South Third Street shop downtown.  - Dean A. Radford/Renton Reporter
Beverly Franklin will close her Cedar Chest Antique Mall after Christmas Eve, following a weeks-long sale of antiques at her South Third Street shop downtown.
— image credit: Dean A. Radford/Renton Reporter

Beverly Franklin has always had a knack for finding treasures from people’s homes and even in, well, the dumpster when she was a child.

Franklin’s career finding and selling antiques in Renton goes back about 40 years. Her antique stores, first the Downtown Renton Antique Mall and now the Cedar Chest Antique Mall, have been mainstays of downtown Renton’s antique district for a quarter century.

Now, at 81 and facing some health issues, she’s ready to make her last sale.

“I hate giving it up, but healthwise it’s time for both of us,” Franklin said.

The other half of that “us” is David Olds, who has helped Franklin parttime for a number of years. Before then, he owned his own antique shop in Seattle’s Fremont district.

Franklin is in the midst of a going-out-of business sale that ends with her traditional early closing on Christmas Eve. After that, her doors at 916 S. Third St. close forever.

Franklin got involved in antique sales in the 1970s, after getting laid off  in the 1970s from Boeing. She got a job in Oregon, but the company wouldn’t  pay for her move. She stayed put.

So she started to sell “stuff” in Renton and “I just realized, My God, I could make a living at this.” That’s not true today, she said.

“I just fell into in,” she said. And her mother was an antiques dealer, too.

Then Olds reminds her of something.

When she was 10 and 11, she would go through the dumpsters, looking for something to sell, he said.

“Mother couldn’t keep me out of them,” she said. But, she found some “neat stuff.”

Franklin still lives in the North Renton home built in 1904 where she grew up.

Describing herself as a “wayward child,” she was sent to Oakland, Calif., where she graduated from high school.

But for the past 40 years or so, she has bought and sold antiques, everything from vintage records, to hats, to jewelry, to art glass to furniture. There’s a beautiful wood-carved room divider with an umbrella built for two on top.

Most of what Franklin sells is brought in by someone or she gets a call and visits a home. She doesn’t buy from estate sales.

And her customers often come back repeatedly.

She bases her prices on what she sold the item for previously or on something similar, she said. About half of what she makes goes to her overhead costs, such as rent and utilities. Her electricity bill is high because of the number of lights in the brightly lit shop.

The good times, she said, were in the 1980s and 90s when the economy was booming.

She answers the question, Why are you closing? with two words, “the economy.”

“We aren’t retiring,” Olds said. “We are forced out because we can’t meet the demands of the economy.”

They’ve found that the younger generation has little interest in antiques, Olds said, and older people have everything they want.

With a 50 percent discount, sales are brisk. And, Franklin said, she still has plenty to sell.

She’ll donate what she doesn’t sell and take some to auction.

She’s trying not to take anything home, pointing out she has a lot already.

What she’ll miss, too, are her customers and the close community in downtown Renton.

Cedar Chest Antique Mall

The Cedar Chest Antique Mall is at 916 S. Third St. in downtown Renton. Hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, noon-4 p.m. Sunday and closed on Mondays. The phone number is 425-271-0511.


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