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American River Messenger

Midway Antique Mall Says Goodbye

Dec 20, 2023 03:29PM ● By Tamara Warta

Mark, Ike, and Ann Saunders in front of an original vintage jukebox at Midway Antique Mall. Photo by Tamara Warta


SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Time is about to move on from a retail location that has enjoyed a long nostalgic pause with the Sacramento community. Midway Antique Mall, which has been selling retro finds to antique lovers since 2006, will close its doors on January 21, 2024.

The 30,000 square foot antique mall, which is located at 5130 Madison Ave, is owned and run by Mark and Ann Saunders. Meeting with Mark in one of Midway's staged midcentury rooms feels like coming home for a chat with a cherished grandparent, complete with a record softly playing throughout the mall and the couple's 6 lb yorkie named Ike at his post by the cash registers.

“I think the customers will miss Ike more than me and Ann,” jokes Saunders, as he reflects upon the start of Midway while surrounded by the various rooms displaying their huge accomplishment.

With a passion for antiquing since the early 1990s, the Saunders were regular dealers at the old Antique Plaza in Rancho Cordova. After being in the court reporting business for over 30 years, they decided to shutter their deposition reporting firm and become full time antique retailers following Antique Plaza's closure.

“We decided to open our own little weekend store, maybe 2500 square feet,” recalls Saunders. Soon, they started getting calls from other dealers, ending up with approximately 100 inquiries into their new business that was intended to be small and simple.

“Ann and I sat down and said, well....okay! And we decided to open Midway.”

The business started in the building that is now occupied by Green Acres, and moved to their current location in 2008. And, seemingly from the moment it began, Midway has been anything but small in the world of antiquing. Prior to the pandemic, the mall was open 7 days a week, 10am-6pm, with both of the Saunders present everyday. Keeping Midway open has always been a team effort - although Mark lovingly gives most of the credit to Ann.

“My job is to keep our booths stocked, help dealers move in, deal with customers, and calendar coverage,” says Saunders. “Ann, on the other hand, is the business manager and financial officer. She – by herself – handles all the paperwork... she has done an incredible job for one person. Without Ann, this never would have happened. If something had happened to her, Midway would’ve closed the next day. Without her –  the rules she created, the financial management – there’s no way I could do it by myself. Ann gets 100 percent credit for Midway beginning and being maintained.”

Post-pandemic, Midway changed their business model and is now closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays – it gave the Saunders some time to rest while also, surprisingly, improving their business. Sales went up, utility costs went down, and other antique shops up and down California followed suit.

Midway has long been an example to others when it comes to how to showcase antiques the right way, and outside of their throngs of loyal customers, the mall has gotten to be the background for many a photo shoot. It has become the holiday tradition of many couples and families to come sit in the shop’s staged 1950s “Dean Martin room” and nab the perfect vintage holiday card photo.

When HBO came knocking, Midway also got to serve as a movie set for a Carol Burnett documentary.

“It was amazing how those movie cameras can take one of these rooms and make it look like a house,” said Saunders. Both he and Ann got to enjoy the film’s premiere at Sacramento’s Crest theater and had fun spotting one of their kitchen sets.

When speaking about the photoshoots and documentary, Saunders reflects, “No other mall does anything like that. A lot of customers say It's just a museum trip back in time.”

While Mark Saunders clearly has a joy for his antiques – especially for the mall’s mid-1950s to 1960s pieces, he is also a serious businessman. During its run, Midway rarely had a spot for a new dealer, and when it did, it would be gone within a week.

“We are very strict on who we let in here. All of our stuff has to be at least 30 years old – no new, no reproductions, no made in China.”

Midway currently has 250 dealer spaces, 160 dealer showcases, and as high as 120 dealers selling at the mall. With Midway closing, Saunders couldn't provide a definitive answer as to where all of its current dealers will go.

“It’s kind of an end of an era. There will never be another Midway,” says Saunders. “We have customers from all over the world... Ann and I are kind of unusual dealers. Most want to buy and sell – we care where the stuff goes. Most is priced not to sell until I find the right home.”

Antiquing is not an easy game. Midcentury antiques in particular are getting harder to find because parents are passing away and children are keeping them within the family.  And, for the Saunders, Midway is staying within the family as well. They declined offers to sell Midway, with Mark instead saying, “Midway is Mark and Ann. We birthed Midway and we will lay it to rest.”

“For the most part, all of the dealers are great people,” said Saunders. “It’s just been fun, but after 35 years in court reporting and 19 years here, I’m out of gas.”

When asked what he will do now that he’s retiring, the 74-year-old mentions his excitement for playing with his classic 1955 Chevy and 1962 Rambler. But, with a smile, it is clear that something else will take number one spot in the coming days.

“Ann and I are going to start dating again.”