VERONA, Va. — The large 121,000-square-foot building is like a maze of history.
Around each corner is a new find and something to discover.
“If it isn’t in here, why, I don’t know where it would be,” said customer Craig Hamilton. “There’s always a treasure somewhere.”
The Factory Antique Mall in Verona has been named the largest antique mall in the country and boasts more than 225 dealers within its walls.
During a press conference on Wednesday, county and state officials gathered to announce the mall’s new status and boast about its previous history.
“This is a tourist destination and a place to look for that certain piece of history,” said Linda Hershey, president of the Greater Augusta Regional Chamber of Commerce. “Resale malls are a multibillion dollar a year industry.”
The mall also serves as an outlet for filmmakers in the state to get props and relics for movies being made in Virginia.
“Several notable films have snagged items from the Factory Antique Mall,” said Mary Nelson, deputy director of the Virginia Film Office. “This is unique. There is no larger antique mall in the country.
“Since I was young, I loved old things,” Nelson added. “Old things have always been really nice and important to me.”
Films such as Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” used the antique mall to outfit the film, which was made in Richmond. The AMC series “Turn” also used the mall for antique props.
“We’re becoming the go-to state for historical filming,” Nelson said. “What is found under this roof is a wonderful array of pieces.”
The mall’s reputation as a spot to gather antique props started to spread after “Lincoln” and “Turn” were filmed, Nelson said. It prompted other projects like PBS’ drama series “Mercy Street” to also use the mall.
“By this time, the word is out that this is the place to go,” Nelson said.
Frank Root turned the Genesco clothing factory into the Factory Antique Mall in 1996.
“This is a great example of a repurposed factory,” said Del. Steve Landes, R-25. “It’s been able to utilize our here here in the Valley. It’s also allowed the facility to grow.”
The mall has now increased 10 times in size and has 5,000 more square feet than the former largest antique store in America, which is in Ohio.
“It took a while to get to critical mass,” said Root. “The credit goes to our customers, members and staff.”