By Sue Moore
After celebrating twenty-eight years as an antique dealership in the Bell Building on Grand Street in Schoolcraft, Carl Tackett, owner of T & W Coin store and Norma’s Antiques, is closing up shop. The store has occupied three buildings that were built by Lewis Bell in the 1890s and over the years have housed a meat market, a telephone exchange, and a movie theater.
The Tacketts moved from a store front in Portage to Schoolcraft when the owners of Portage Plaza raised the rent beyond what Carl was willing to pay. With the help of friends, all the stock was moved in one day to Schoolcraft; just one dish was broken. When Norma, Carl’s wife of 45 years, passed away in the fall of 2014, her antiques occupied all corners of the vast Opera House upstairs, the basement, and the main floors fronting on Grand Street. Carl is selling all the antiques at auction in Illinois. It has taken 12 truckloads so far to move these valuable antiques without making much of a dent in the remaining stock. The auction house will not let him help with anything in the moving and packing of the inventory.
Norma was known worldwide for her knowledge of antiques, drawing customers from as far away as Europe and Japan. Together, the Tacketts put Schoolcraft on the map as a center of antique shopping with help from employees who will also be retiring. The couple started the Christmas Walk in Schoolcraft that brought shoppers from far and wide to enjoy the small town atmosphere and the warmth of Christmases past.
Soon after they moved into the store fronts, they remodeled the store next to Loving Ewe to be their residence. All of the buildings were vacant when he purchased them from Kalamazoo County State Bank. “They were a mess. Birds had taken over the upstairs. It took six weeks with 12 people helping, to clean it all up. We found 36 deer heads piled up on the floor in the Opera House area. There was an elevator going upstairs and after I messed up my shoulder, I fixed it and its still operating today.”
Melvin’s Hardware was there for many years in the middle of the 20th century…..oldies remember this fondly. Folks would gather there to watch the first TV in town sitting on washers, dryers and whatever was near…old and young alike!
Carl has been active in the community too, having served nearly 20 years on the village council. He personally oversees the village-sponsored garage sale every spring. He is very proud of the sidewalk program the village instituted years ago.
He now spends three days a week on dialysis at the Three Rivers hospital, so his health has been a concern for the many people who stop by to chat each day and try to keep him from being lonely. He will meet with coin collectors by appointment but doesn’t plan to keep his portion of the shop open for walk-ins.
Tackett moved from Marion, IN in 1966 to work at the GM plant on Sprinkle Road. He has three children from a previous marriage. He met Norma who had two children but was single when he hired her to do accounting work for the UAW local; he served as the local’s financial secretary. They started the antique business when a business in Detroit closed. They purchased the inventory and moved it to a flower shop they owned in Battle Creek. Carl kept his day job at GM until he retired in 1986.
“I’ve always liked coins. Like a lot of kids, you start collecting the Lincoln penny. It’s hard to get kids interested in collecting these days but I still have a lot of loyal customers. I love the business, so I want to keep that going in my spare time.”