Crest Hill gallery caters to collectors
By Cindy Wojdyla Cain firstname.lastname@example.org January 18, 2013 7:18PM
Updated: February 21, 2013 6:26AM
Images of Marilyn Monroe, Michael Jackson, John Wayne and Elvis all have found a home at a Crest Hill business.
The famous faces adorn a wide variety of collectibles housed at Gallery 1700, a business that has grown item by item at 1700 Plainfield Road.
The store is a packrat’s dream come true with shelves chock full of antiques, comic books, beer steins, games, glasses, jewelry, lamps, music boxes, dishes, books, albums, purses, perfumes, candles, crafts and quilts.
The store has everything from a leather-bound, gold leaf 1953 Bible published by the Catholic Press of Chicago to a full-metal suit of armor. A Janis Joplin album is a stone’s throw from a Star Wars lunch box.
Imagine if eBay came to life, “But it’s in a building where you can actually see it and touch it,” said Jeff Petrilla, who is running the business with his brother, George Jr.
Their mother, Helen Petrilla, and her sister, Carol McGuire, started the family’s primary business, a wholesale and retail ceramics operation, in 1966 in downtown Joliet where the Harrah’s parking garage is now located.
In 2007, when the city of Joliet asked to buy the ceramic shop’s second location on Joliet Street, the Petrillas decided to move to Route 30.
The 40,000-square-foot building was so large, the Petrilla’s could house Midwest Ceramics and its 80,000 molds in the lower level and opened Gallery 1700 on the top floor.
It took a while to fill all the space with collectibles and crafts, but fill it they did. Jeff said he and his brother continue to work to attract new customers. Better window displays are on their way. And sellers now can bring in items and get paid for them on the spot.
“Bring items in and our vendor is very knowledgeable about them and he’s going to appraise them,” said Helen, who got the idea for the artisan mall from a friend who started a similar business in North Carolina. “It will give people a chance to make money on things they’re not using any more in their own homes.”
As always, sellers can rent a shelf for $12 a month, a booth for $130 a month or sell on consignment.
The volume of items for sale has grown so much in the past few years, word seems to be spreading about the business, Helen said.
“People are finally starting to find us,” she said. “We have everything for everybody.”
Popular items include Coca-Cola collectibles and Hargrove and Carson paintings, which can go for $500 or more.
So far the most expensive item sold was an $800 antique wardrobe. Used furniture is appealing because it doesn’t have to be assembled and the pieces are made of solid wood, Helen said.
While there are thousands of items for sale at Gallery 1700, there are a few things the Petrillas won’t accept: sewing machines, TVs, appliances, construction remnants, ceiling fans, mattresses, computers, pianos and stuffed animals.
Even without those items, the Petrillas are having fun trying to get their artisan mall to take off and keeping the ceramics business rolling.
“It’s kept us busy,” Jeff said. “The ups and downs drive you crazy — but it’s good.”
For information on the Petrillas’ businesses, visit ceramicsartsupply.com or gallery1700.com.