The “antique” of Old Town Buda Antique Mall isn’t just what’s inside, but also the building itself. Built in 1914, it has hosted businesses, apartment tenants, and maybe even served as an “overflow” nursing site for desperately ill victims of the 1918 flu pandemic. Now it holds the vast and varied collections of 15 vendors offering items representing decades of “treasures”.
Owners Robert and Mary Ann Gomez started their retail endeavor eight years ago when they began “picking” through offerings at estate sales, antique or “second hand” stores, and flea markets throughout Texas as they neared retirement from state government careers of 32 and 27 years respectively. They rented sales space from the Antique Mall’s previous owner in November 2017, and then bought the building and business in May 2018. They began renovations and opened up spaces the public had not seen in many years as they expanded the two stories of sales floor. Asked about their favorite sources for buying, Gomez said he likes estate sales because of the interesting international items he finds. He and Mary Ann also recognize the emotional value of items that held cherished memories for original owners. Mary Ann used to be drawn to Christmas memorabilia. Others of the 15 vendors look in many places to accumulate stock, such as one shop-keeping couple that takes an annual vacation and extended shopping trip to more distant locales like Germany and New England.
Now that he has turned a hobby into a business, Gomez said he still enjoys it. “I never say I’m going to work. I say I’m going to the store. It’s fun and enjoyable. Best job I’ve ever had!” Due to COVID restrictions, they had to close for some time last spring, were able to reopen on weekends, and now are gradually adding back weekdays approaching “more normal times”, Gomez explained.
Not unusual for an aged building that has hosted many people over time, this one has its share of ghost stories. Yes, ghost hunters have explored the building. There are a few tales.
Old Town Buda Antique Mall stands stately at 212 Main Street in the middle of downtown. There is plenty to explore—something for everyone—and maybe even a ghost story or two.