Iconic antique shop ruined in Mayer flooding, items up for auction

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The town of Mayer, in northern Arizona, has been hit hard. First with fires then flash floods and now they're having to say goodbye to a piece of their history. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The town of Mayer, in northern Arizona, has been hit hard. First with fires then flash floods and now they're having to say goodbye to a piece of their history. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
MAYER, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

The town of Mayer, in northern Arizona, has been hit hard. First with fires then flash floods and now they're having to say goodbye to a piece of their history.

Storm damage forced one of Arizona's most famous museums and antique shops to close. You might have known it as Smitty's Big Barn & Antiques.

New owners kept the Smitty's name, restored it and even added their own antique collection to the eclectic shop, getting ready for a grand re-opening. But after a fifth flood came through the town of Mayer, that dream washed away.

[RELATED: Evacuations orders lifted in Mayer after heavy rain threaten flooding]

Now the entire collection is up for grabs right here in the Valley.   

"Last week when I was at the property, it was completely bone dry. Within two hours of me being there, it was raining north of us, and this [area] was all underwater," said Erik Hoyer owner of EJ's Auction & Consignment in Glendale.

The iconic sign outside is now tumbled over and broken. Mud covers the parking lot and water has washed away part of the staircase and ruined the entrance. It's a sight Hoyer couldn't believe.

"The water came up to about here on this corner piece," Hoyer said as he pointed out through pictures of the damage.

If you've ever driven on Highway 69 in Mayer, you probably saw Smitty's or stopped in. It was known as the largest storehouse of nostalgia-- an Arizona landmark that even got the attention of the History Channel’s "The Pickers." 

"It's about 14,000 square feet," Hoyer said. "It's packed full of anything and everything you could think of."

Some of the rare collectibles include phonographs, reel-to-reels and audio equipment from the new owner's own collection. Kenneth Seo, a Valley businessman, bought the property in February, spent $200,000 in renovations and countless hours in upgrades and prepared for a grand re-opening.

"Think of it as, you've been wanting something your entire life and it finally comes true and you've been open for a short time and that rug gets yanked out from underneath you," said Hoyer. "He had put thousands into upgrades, the parking lot, the building, and for all of it to be gone in a span of 30 minutes, it was quite devastating."  

Surprisingly none of the antiques and collectibles were damaged during the floods. But now, the entire collection will go on the auction block this Saturday at EJ's in Glendale at 10 a.m. Hoyer’s crews anticipate 30 truckloads of items-- some 30,000 collectibles to be saved and sold.

"I'm proud that he's entrusting us to represent his collection, but I'm kind of torn," said Hoyer. "I'm actually helping somebody liquidate their dream."

Last week, Hoyer captured even more flooding on the property with his camera-phone, just validating the owner's decision to close shop.

"You can fix this and spend the money but it's just going to happen again," Hoyer said.

Seo didn't want to speak on camera, but in a statement, he said he had big plans that included bringing a theme park to Mayer, and that all of his work and dreams were destroyed.

A free public preview of the items from his eclectic museum will take place Wednesday, Aug. 9 at 9 a.m., and the auction will begin Saturday, Aug. 12 at 10 a.m. For more info, click here.

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