Downtown Topeka antique market owner deals with Saturday fire at his business

With the smell of smoke in the air and the sound of dripping water coming from the ceiling, Jeff Hisey used a flashligh to look around the business he’s owned in downtown Topeka for the past four years that sustained fire and water damage from a blaze that broke out Saturday morning.

“We just got over our hump,” Hisey said, describing how his vintage antiques and collectible business at 109 N. Kansas Ave. had recently begun making a profit. “People were starting to get the idea of what we’re doing here.”

Hisey said the fire, that started sometime before 9 a.m., started on the second floor of the building just west of the Kansas Lottery. The Topeka Fire Department said in a statement the blaze was accidental, caused by “malfunction of electrical branch circuitry.” Hisey said fire officials told him it was caused by an extension cord. Most of the damage that was done was to the south side of the space his business occupies.

“We’ve got more water damage,” he said. “The sprinklers did what they were supposed to do.”

Hisey, a 1977 Highland Park High School graduate, said he’s going to take some time to figure out what to do next. He said he originally started his business slow, modeling it after the vintage shops found in Kansas City’s West Bottoms.

“I wanted to build something with stability,” he said, adding that he has about 70 vendors who have space in his building. “I believe in downtown Topeka.”

While fire officials estimate the building’s damage to be about $75,000 with $10,000 in damage done to the contents, Hisey said there was at least $50,000 to $60,000 in damage done to the vintage antiques and collectibles.

“Hopefully I can reopen as soon as I can,” he said, saying that Trails Gallery & Market had just been named a top five destination for the First Friday art walks. “A lot of people have worked really hard to make this a reality.”

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