Customers, Vendors Thrive at Sugar Mill Antiques & Vintage Depot

By Jon DeStefano
 Sugar Mill Antiques and Vintage Depot didn’t just suddenly happen. Antiquing has been a way of life for the Sugar Mill family for a very long time. Nancy and Jon Miller have been avid collectors for many years. For Nancy, her love of antiques started when she was in high school working at an antique shop. Ever since Sarah Morgan was a little kid she remembers antiquing with her parents. “My mom and I would spend time wandering antique shops and we’d get in the car and hit all of the garage sales in our station wagon. Her earliest memories include their Victorian home filled with antiques. Sarah’s first antiquing job began in elementary school. She was the runner for an antique auction her parents would attend on Friday nights. She would run bid papers back and forth during the auction. Later on, Nancy and Jon maintained a variety of booths in different malls and later opened a brick-and-mortar   antique store they ran for many years.
 “Time passed,” Sarah recollects, “the family was thinking of opening another antique store and talked it through. Together with my parents, we decided to do something different. Something more unique that would appeal to a variety of people of all ages. We knew we wanted to have antiques, but also include vintage, collectibles, works of local artisans and really make it a collective that appeals to everybody. We decided we wanted to build a new place, no old, musty buildings would do for our new store. A place of our own. The whole family is involved in the store, Mom and Dad, (Nancy and Jon Miller), June Bug, (Nancy’s mom and Sarah’s Grandma), Sarah, her husband Van and their kids who work at the store.
 “We put my husband — a local Realtor—on it. We wanted something close to the highway, and Van came through in a big way. He found the perfect piece of land right off I-25.” Sarah smiles and spreads her arms as if to embrace all of Sugar Mill Antiques and says, “He found this, it was literally just dirt when we bought it, but we could see the potential of what it could be.”
 She continues, “The design was also my husband’s handiwork. We were at dinner talking about how we wanted it to look like an old barn. He literally drew a sketch on a napkin,” she smiles. He said, ‘You mean something like this?’ And that was it. We all loved it! Together with my parents, my husband, brother-in-law, kids and some amazing friends, all of us worked on it from the ground up to make it what it is today.”
 She concludes, “Sugar Mill. Family-owned and Family-operated. Unique. So much more than your typical antique store. All of us were all in from the beginning. We have 4 generations of family here at Sugar Mill, June Bug (my Grandma), my Mom Nancy, myself and my kids.”
 Sugar Mill Antiques is different from most traditional antique malls. It appeals to people looking for traditional antiques, to people looking for mid-century modern, or those looking for farmhouse style and those looking for a little bit of everything in between. It’s not just one genre. They really go all out to provide everything in one location.
 Sugar Mill opened their doors in January 2020 just two and a half months before Covid hit and the world shut down.
 “It was a little scary because we had just opened and everything was closing,” said Sarah, “we knew we had to get creative to survive these unprecedented times. From offering free delivery, curbside pickup, we posted videos, offered personal shopping for customers, created gift baskets, and offering no contact delivering around town. Our customers were amazing and supported us through the craziness of the COVID closures. It was a ton of work, but it all worked out.”
 Sarah, her family, and Sugar Mill did more than survive, they thrived. They adjusted and today they still offer some of the practices that helped then, like doing Facebook live sales. On Facebook there is a live piece which is almost like a TV show. It’s a live video which is also recorded. It’s a sale, not an auction. People buy the item then choose to have it shipped, picked up at the store, or have it delivered.
 Sugar Mill Antiques has over 80 merchants in the store. They have a long waiting list. The vendors have to apply, submit pictures of what their booth will look like and they also submit a booth design plan. They want each space to be unique. There are a lot of different booth types and that’s by design to ensure variety for our customers.
 “The large variety makes a great difference for our vendors. They do well because they’re not competing with each other to sell the same items. It has to fit with our curated concept of being well-designed and appealing, because we want to create a unique feeling. We don’t want it to feel like the monotonous pegboard booths or rows of stalls you see in other malls. Each space is different; we want every vendor to be able to showcase their own style and have a boutique showcasing their own charm.”
 “When we started the business, one of our focuses was to be involved in the local community and help give back through our store.  One of the things we promote at Sugar Mill is our “BE THE CHANGE” program. To accomplish that we partner with a local non-profit every month. You will always see a place for customers to throw in their loose change to donate for a specific charity each month and then we match that donation. We also do charitable events throughout the year including pictures with Santa, car shows for a cause etc. The charity is onsite during the events and set up a table to raise money and awareness for their organization.
 Vendors like being at Sugar Mill Antiques not only because they do very well, but because they’re part of the Sugar Mill family. They hold vendor-work-nights where vendors come in to redecorate, set up things differently or restock after hours. It’s the vendors night and it gives them a chance to connect with each other regularly.
 Sarah, a longtime sales and marketing executive, explains, “Sugar Mill uses technology to keep vendors always up-to-date on their sales.  This also ensures the store is always restocked timely and has a constant stream of new merchandise arriving.
 One of the things the vendors appreciate is that they do many events and activities to draw customers into the store. In addition to extensive showcasing of their merchants on social media. They showcase their booths, highlighting different vendor items on Facebook and Instagram and they even do videos touring vendor booths on social media. Sugar Mill merchants have a great sense of camaraderie.  You will often find the vendors working and supporting each other, many even go to auctions together.
 There are some very unique features at Sugar Mill. One is Joan the Mannequin. She has been there since Sugar Mill started. One of merchants decks her out for every holiday. She changes her wardrobe. For example, on Saint Pat’s Day, Joan was decked out in full green and loaded with dozens of St Patrick’s Day buttons and numerous shamrocks. Her outfits and jewelry change regularly.
 Gnome-vember features a month long scavenger hunt as well as having the famous Gnome, Naughty Norman getting into a little mischief daily as he roams through the store causing havoc. Norman constantly turns things upside down, hides clues. He is a naughty little gnome and it’s a fun scavenger hunt, changing every week. Kids love it because they find the gnomes hiding all over the store and every week, Sugar Mill gives out little prizes and gifts when the Gnomes are found.
 Another fun feature for kids of all ages is the putting green out front of Sugar Mill, a sweet distraction for those not as interested in shopping.
 Customers will also enjoy the life-size Volkswagen bus that serves as a retro candy-counter. It has everything from candy cigarettes to pop rocks and tons of old-fashioned candies, vintage pop flavors and nostalgic favorites of all kinds.
 Sugar Mill is a special antique and vintage shopping experience. The Mall is bright, clean and fresh. It’s eclectic, and spacious and friendly. You may come in a stranger, but you’ll leave a friend.  The Sugar Mill family has taken the time to develop relationships with their customers and vendors, making it a special place. They have created a different ambiance, a place where you experience adventure, kindness and charm. As Sarah says, “It is more than just shopping, it’s an experience. You can easily spend the afternoon getting lost in true living history as you wander the isles.
 There is something to be said about a family-owned business that makes their customers, vendors and community all agree that they feel like part of the family.
 Sugar Mill Antiques is located at the Mead exit just off I-25. Sugar Mill not surprisingly has won several important awards since they opened. Including the prestigious Broncos Business Boost award given to just three outstanding Colorado small businesses as well as numerous Times-Call, Readers’ Choice Awards for Best Antique Store, Best Vintage Store, Best Home Décor, Best Mead Business and Best New Business. Being called “A Unicorn of a store” and “Best antiquing in Colorado” by Only in Colorado.
 Sugar Mill is open seven days a week: Sunday – Thursday 10:30 to 5 and Friday and Saturday 10 to 6. For more information, go to www.sugar Follow them on Facebook and Instagram @Sugarmillmead for their latest arrivals and upcoming events. Their phone number is 720-899-5570. Stop by, you will enjoy the experience. Tell them the Mountain States Collector sent you.

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