MONTGOMERY – Gear up for some pickin’. These days it is in Montgomery, PA. Located on Thomas Ave. in the old Rochelle building that used to make children’s furniture and has since been a hardware store, Joe Okkelberg, a native of Williamsport, has a big vision for its transformation.
He has converted the interior into a western town. There is a Hotel, a Post Office, a Saloon, a Cigar Store, a General Store, Barbershop, and four others that so far have evolved into separate vendor spaces with displays of antiques and collectibles. Most of the vendors are local and more vendor space can be added to fill the 7,000 square feet that is available on the first floor.
Okkelberg, who likes to be called “Okkie” acquired the building September 2013 with a lease to buy from the property owner, Sledworks in Duncanon, PA. Since then, he has been steadily working on bringing his vision to life.
Using original flooring dating back to 1930, rough sawn hardwood and 130 year old barn wood, he constructed a facade to replicate an old western village. He was not alone in his endeavors. With the help of a local contractor, Matt Savage, the two created an overall theme to appropriately showcase primitives, old railroad parts, wood carvings, pottery, vintage clothing and many hand crafted items. They used old wood siding to make doors and shelves. Space within 9 1/2 x 13 sq. ft. can be customized to individual “shopkeepers” specifications to display wares and hardware.
An old looking “railroad station” can be seen at the end of the building with 3 nice booths filled with truck parts and welding equipment. Savage created “Pinkerton’s National Detective Agency” where he has a collection of “neat coca-cola stuff.” A woman from Muncy has old Avon bottles and jewelry. Another booth features military items and an old Luminary was even spotted.
At first Okkie was only going to use the first 7,000 square feet but since then he said a lot has involved. “It has been a constant work in progress,” he added.
To protect his time and materials in his investment, Okkie has contracted with the owner to take over the whole building which includes another 7,000 square feet. There will be an added food court run by Sam Harer and his family. Also in the works, is an indoor yard sale, an outdoor flea market and a banquet hall that will also be used for auctions. Along walls, artists are painting murals to keep with the overall theme.
To coincide with the western theme, Okkie wants to have line dancing, country bands and weekly live entertainment. “I want to keep everything here in Montgomery,” Okkie said. “They make me feel welcome here. This is my retirement.” Okkie, who was a former supervisor with L3 Communications, anticipates an opening date of June 1st for the auction hall. “We are also building an Indian area,” added Okkie. “Matt helped me a lot. He took my vision and actually helped me build this inside town.”
The facility is handicap accessible and will be open mostly weekends starting in April. This coming weekend is a special opening. Okkie will be in Montgomery Park with a pony that he owns with Harer and they will be having a contest with prizes for the children to see who can give it a show name.
Hours for the flea market are 8 to 4 Saturdays and Sundays through April and Fridays, Saturdays, & Sundays from May through September on 80 Thomas Ave., Montgomery.
Okkie can be reached at 570-326-0490 or TraderOkkie@gmail.com.