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Longmont Local: Family among the many precious treasures found at Longmont flea market

Tables to Teacups Indoor Flea Market was born from the love created by the Toohey family.

Tables to Teacups Indoor Flea Market was born from the Toohey family’s love for treasure hunting and preserving memories. For more than two decades they have shared their passion with Longmont with its indoor flea market, estate sale and consignment store.

Inside of Tables to Teacups at 455 Weaver Park Rd #600, the 5,000 square foot building houses antiques, toys, dishware, furniture, vinyl records and home decor. A large part of the store is broken up into a flea market with more than 35 booths for dealers to sell their wares. 

It’s more than an antique store. It’s the good, the bad and the ugly, said Marlena Toohey owner and co-founder of Tables to Teacups. The store that receives approximately 500 new pieces of consignment each week is a treasure trove.

Wooden fences separating the dealer booths, is reminiscent of walking through a small neighborhood. With an inventory of approximately half a million items from multiple eras, every corner has something to strike a nostalgic chord with shoppers.

“People walk through and that's their biggest thing, ‘Oh my god, this is like walking down memory lane,’” Marlena said. “Because it's everything that everybody wants to get rid of, and everything that everybody else is looking for.”

Marlena and her late husband John Toohey founded Tables to Teacups 21 years ago, as a mom-and-pop consignment shop. She said it was the couple’s dream to own their own business, and they took the plunge after John was laid off from a retail chain.

In 2004, Tables and Teacups expanded to a building that housed an indoor flea market across the parking lot from their quant consignment shop at 1420 Nelson Rd. They started opening up their business to dealer booths. Tables to Teacups moved to its current location after 13 years.

Around the time Tables to Teacups expanded into an indoor flea market, John passed away. Marlena’s sons Brandon and Brian Toohey quit their jobs to focus on growing the family business. Today, Marlena and her sons still operate the business, along with working with Brandon’s wife, Kira Toohey.

Marlena said the family rarely shopped at a regular retail store. She recalls going to auctions and giving her sons $5 to shop at garage sales. Brandon said while he feels big retail stores to be full of the same things, you never know what you might find at shops like Tables to Teacups. 

“It's supposed to be a feel good shop. I always say it's nothing you need, but there's a lot that you want. And that's really the best way to look at it and you never know what you're gonna find,” Brandon said.

Bargain hunting, antiquing and collecting is a way the family bonds. The name Tables to Teacups is inspired by a consignment of a similar name, Tables to Teapots that Marlena would go to every time she visited her sister in Massachusetes. The store also inspired the time-base discount that the Longmont store uses: after two months, consignment items start getting a discount by 10% every month it isn’t sold, all the way until the item is 50% off.

Along with working at the store, Marlena’s children have flea market booths, selling items they love to collect. Brandon and Kira have a booth selling things like stereo and camera equipment and Pokemon cards. Brian’s also has a booth selling comics, video games and pop culture finds.

Marlena bonded with her parents while visiting antique stores on vacations. Her father collected clocks and her mother collected ruby glass. Marlena took an interest in black amethyst glass and said collecting glass was her “50-year connection” with her mother.

Both Marlena and her mother published researched books on their collections, “A Collector's Guide to Black Glass” and “Ruby Glass of the 20th Century” respectively. Marlena has more than 4,000 black glass items and said she doesn’t remember every piece she owns, but if she comes across something she doesn’t have she knows it.

“It's all out and it's all dusty, but when I finally get around to dusting it, I remember where I got it and you know, maybe what I paid for it and how long ago it was, and it's just something that I enjoy,” Marlena said.

Marlena joked that everyone knows that Tables to Teacups is family-operated because sometimes they bicker, “typical family stuff.” But the business is just as much about family as it is about the items in the store.

Brandon and Kira’s 6-year-old son was raised in the shop ever since he was a baby with his crib sitting behind the store counter, Marlena said. He’s still at the store part of the time when he's not in school.

He knows what’s old and new in the store, and loves to look around. He asks his grandmother to go on walks throughout the store, and though Marlena has trouble with her legs, she strolls with her grandson as he looks at everything.

“Just out of the blue, he’ll be doing his homework, sitting here in front of the store,” Marlena said. “And someone walks in and he goes, ‘Welcome to Tables to Teacups!’ It says it all.”

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