Tom Patterson believes people in the antiques business should be honest.
This fall, however, the person that Patterson had to be honest with wasn’t a customer. It was himself.
And the truth Patterson had to confront was that his business, Dance Hall Antiques, could no longer survive due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Sunday, the shop welcomed its last customers after more than 25 years in business, the last seven at 35 Market St. in downtown Auburn.
Patterson, 72, told The Citizen on Tuesday that before the pandemic he wasn’t planning on retiring anytime soon. His business partner, Dale Ross, passed away five years ago, but Patterson continued to run the shop by himself afterward. Or at least he did until Sunday, March 15, the last day it was open before having to close due to New York’s COVID-19 guidance. It didn’t reopen until November.
Around that time, Patterson realized that he should only reopen Dance Hall Antiques to close it for good.
“I kept tossing back and forth. I said several prayers to get the right answer, and I think it came,” he said. “The pandemic just took its toll. Economically, we couldn’t do it.”
A native of the village of Waverly in the Southern Tier, Patterson came to Auburn in 1968 to study retail business management at Auburn (now Cayuga) Community College. But he ended up with a nursing degree, which led to a 43-year career as a registered nurse at Auburn Community Hospital. Meanwhile, in 1995, he and Ross established Dance Hall Antiques at a nine-room farmhouse they renovated in Genoa. Before that, they rented space from Bakers Acres in Lansing, where they did business under the name Country Antiques.