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Some Sutter Street antique dealers could get the boot

New owners of Folsom Mercantile not identified, but are related to family who owns Folsom Hotel
By: Art Garcia, Telegraph Correspondent
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FOLSOM, CA - Historic Folsom’s antiques mall, the Folsom Mercantile Exchange at 724 and 726 Sutter St., has been sold and the new owner has given the 40 or so vendors there the option of signing an agreement to vacate their rented booths and spaces by June 30 or leaving immediately.

“We all have to leave. We have no choice,” said Janet Sekany of Shingle Springs, who’s been a Mercantile dealer for about eight years as owner of the Sheepish Grin outlet. “They basically gave us 90 days notice to find other spots.”

She’s going to stay in the Mercantile mall until the June 30 deadline then move her store to Placerville Antiques in Placerville.

Judy Becerril of Folsom, who’s run her Toys, Gifts & Things shop in the Mercantile for 20 years, is scouting other locations, looking at the Midway Antique Mall in Citrus Heights or possibly following other Mercantile vendors to Fair Oaks or perhaps “doing nothing.”

While Sekany said the curt eviction notice was “not really” a surprise because word had been out the Mercantile Exchange was for sale, Becerril said the notice to sign a contract to stay until June 30 or be kicked out by April 30 “was a shock to everybody.”

“We came into our shops at the first of April and were told by the manager ‘We need you to sign some papers’ saying everybody has to be out by June 30,” she said.

“And to this day,” she added, “we’ve never met the new owner. We have no idea what he plans to do with the building. The only thing we know is he does not like antiques. We were told he doesn’t want anything to do with antiques.”

Scott Johnson, Folsom’s planning manager for the city’s Community Development Department, had heard the Exchange was for sale but not that a deal had been done.

The short notice to vendors to move “is very unfortunate,” he said. “They’ve been great tenants on Sutter Street forever. We’d like to see them stay. They draw quite a few people from the antiquing world to Sutter Street. It’s sad to see them go.”

Becerril, who pays one of the lower rents at $315 a month for her Mercantile space, said tenants who choose to remain past June 30 will see their rents rise from 25 to 40 percent.

Natalie Schafer is said to be owner of the antique mall. Becerril said not even Schafer has met the new owner.

Yeager’s, a bar and restaurant near the Mercantile that closed about a year ago, is said to be in plans to reopen. “Just what we need is another bar and restaurant in the district,” commented Becerril.

The eviction notice came from SKR Group Inc. in Novato, north of San Francisco. Scott Raymond is the indicated president and the Mercantile’s new “master lessee.” Raymond said the new owner is 724 LLC, a limited liability corporation. He said he can't give out the name of the individual owner and, besides, “He's on vacation.”

Raymond did confirm the new owner's family also owns the Folsom Hotel at 703 Sutter St., across from the Mercantile Exchange. A call to the hotel on deadline reached an answering machine.

Becerril has signed on to remain at her Mercantile space until June 30.

“I’m one of the last Mohicans,” she declared. “I want to see what in the hell is going to happen.”