By Sue Moore
“It’s amazing what 80 year old Norma Tackett, an antiques dealer on Grand Street in Schoolcraft, can do to galvanize our town into a Christmas wonderland for two days,” said Wes Schmitt, former Village president. She will lead the 25th annual Christmas Walk in downtown Schoolcraft on Friday, Dec. 6 from 6 to 9 p.m. and Saturday, Dec 7, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
She came here with her husband, Carl, in 1985 after 17 years doing business in Portage Plaza on South Westnedge. Since then the town’s antique businesses have become the staple of retail offered here, Schmitt continued. “She and Carl had a vision to bring customers into the village at Christmas to see the charm and history that we have to offer. The magic was that she got all the other merchants to join in her quest.”
People come from all over the area to shop and walk between the stores to quaff hot drinks, eat sweet treats and win door prizes. More importantly for Norma is seeing the old friends, visiting with each other and just having a good time. One lady from California plans her vacation around being in Schoolcraft the first weekend in December for the Christmas Walk, according to Tackett. She does all the advance work of organizing the merchants, the publicity and even brings in Bob Rowe & the Green Valley Boys Band to play upstairs in her shop on Friday night.
“I started the ‘Walk’ on my own. It went three years before the others in town picked it up and made it what we have today,” Tackett said. At least 1,000 people come through her shop and probably many more go elsewhere during the two days, she claimed. Red bows and posters on front doors mark participating merchants. The United Methodist Church, further north on US 131, has a bake sale, craft sale and silent auction both days, as does the Presbyterian Church on Cass Street. New businesses included this year in the Walk are The Grinder, Pizza Hut, American Legion and Beginnings.
“You can’t just take from your customers who are giving you their business,” she said, “you have to give back. That makes us feel good, so we continue to make the Christmas Walk our special way to thank everybody. It gives us great joy.”
The Tacketts started as T & W Coins, Stamps & Antiques. When they came to Schoolcraft they added Norma’s Antiques and Collectibles. Her knowledge of antiques is well known. “I love old things and many of the items that mean the most to me are on display in our cozy apartment right next to the store on Grand Street.” The objects in the store can come and go, she said while telling the history of a glass jar that was owned by her great-grandmother. You just have to draw the line with what you sell versus what you want to keep. Carl has a particular interest in rare coins, jewelry and paper. His part of the business is housed in the back of the first floor shop, while many of the antiques are on display upstairs in what was at one time an opera house. He has served on the Schoolcraft Village Council since 1992 as his contribution to the community.
Norma’s knowledge of antiques is well-known to her many contacts in the industry. They often call her for advice, she related, because they can’t rely on out-of-date books and the Internet is way over-priced. She has a regular customer in Japan who buys many things and knows he is getting good quality if it comes from her store.
She buys from individuals and has a staff that has been with her for most of the years the Tacketts have been in Schoolcraft.