Come February, “What’s on Second” will be a misnomer. That’s when the antiques store, known for its eclectic selection of nostalgic collector’s items — including vintage toys, video games, comic books, postcards and more — will move to its new location just a block away on First Avenue North.
Owner Steve Gilmer said that a variety of factors influenced his decision to move the store, which has been in business at its current location on Second Avenue North since May 2007.
“I’m downsizing from what I have here,” Gilmer said, gesturing to the store’s two-story space. “That’s one of the factors involved. I’m getting too old and crotchety to run up and down those steps.” The store’s new location in the Wooster Lofts development on First Avenue North is smaller, Gilmer said, “about half the size of what I have now.”
“That means I’ll have to cut back on certain types of merchandise, but it’ll still have the same flavor that we have here,” he added. “In fact, I’m looking forward to the move and to reinventing the shop once again, making it a little leaner, a little tighter, a little smarter than what it has been. That’s a fun part of the change.”
To aid in the thinning down of the store’s large inventory, Gilmer said that, starting January 2, everything in the store will be discounted to 50 percent off. That sale will run through the end of January at least, he said.
But size considerations, Gilmer said, were not the only reasons for the move. “Beyond that, I’ve just been priced off Second Avenue,” he said. “Retail can’t afford to pay the same rent that bars can pay.”
“I wish that our city leaders would understand that you need retail in the downtown area. Would anybody ever go to New York if there was nothing to do but go to bars? Birmingham is the same.”
Despite the store’s move, Gilmer says that one thing about his store will stay the same: the name. “I’ve got too much invested in the name,” he said. “We will remain What’s on Second. I’m not sure if we’ll add ‘on First’ or ‘not us’ in parentheses [under the sign]. We haven’t quite figured that out.”
Gilmer said that his tentative plans are for the store to relocate at the end of February. “I have a feeling we’ll have to be closed down for a few days so we can get things in order,” he said, adding that customers will be able to read updates on the move on the company’s Facebook page.