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Tat-Nooks is not your average flea market

Posted on Jan 28, 2015 by

Pleasant Street business puts an emphasis on the arts, creativity.

By Amanda Roberge – November 18, 2012
Worcester Telegram & Gazette

WORCESTER – Having once been home to a popular hardware store and later a pet store, the Tatnuck Square space now occupied by Tat-Nooks has likely never had such delicate wares gracing its walls.

According to business owner Mel Katz, the 3,000-square-foot space at 1124 Pleasant St. has been broken up into stall-like “nooks” where artists, antiques dealers, collectors, and a few people who defy categorization have started renting inexpensive space and started living their dream.

“We have an eclectic and diverse group of people here,” said Mr. Katz, adding that tenants range from retired schoolteachers to a former hospital administrator. “There is an exceptional amount of talent in this building.”

After a long career selling real estate, which he still does in conjunction with running his new venture, Mr. Katz said he had a desire to create a business model that improved upon traditional flea markets by elevating the concept to a store with an emphasis on artists and true craftsmanship. To that end, Tat-Nooks retains an annex space where classes – from chair caning to furniture restoration – are held, along with vintage items for sale on consignment.

But he also recognized that the flea market model had its pros, and he intends to capitalize on those features without sacrificing the integrity of what is being sold.

“For someone who specializes in the creative arts, opening up a business and renting a space would be tremendously expensive,” he said. “But here, they are renting a 100-square-foot stall for $200 per month, which is doable, especially given how fast the inventory is turning over because of the collective draw.”

Furthermore, he said, everything is affordable priced, without selling anyone’s talents short. But he also understands that flea market and antiques store aficionados are not so far out of his realm that they wouldn’t make enthusiastic shoppers.

In order to involve and welcome new customers, Mr. Katz will host Central Mass Auctions appraiser and auctioneer Wayne Tuiskula on Dec. 2, offering visitors a complimentary chance to have one item from their private collections appraised.

“If it’s something that people like and makes them want to stop by, it’s something I would like to do every month,” said Mr. Katz.

So far, the weekend draw has been enough to call for an increase in hours. The store opened its doors in early September by establishing Saturday and Sunday hours from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., which it continues to offer, but the store has now expanded to Thursdays and Fridays from noon to 6 p.m.

The location has some foot traffic, mostly from people living in abutting neighborhoods, Mr. Katz said. With extensive posters and signage in the windows helping to draw potential customers initially, he said he has relied on social media to get the word out to those who don’t travel on Pleasant Street with an regularity.

“With this economy, people are being very selective about what they spend their money on,” he said. “So I will just hope that we are bringing them things that are interesting and well-priced. Looks good so far.”