Bob Turrell found a whole new life after retirement — just like the old dress factory on Chestnut Street found new life in Turrell’s realized dream.
Turrell owns the antique mall Marketplace on Chestnut in Oneonta.
“It is a fun business,” Turrell said Thursday as he told stories of acquiring eclectic collectibles. “It is very enjoyable. The customers who come in here look at this as an enjoyable part of their day. Even the men who come in with their wives, if they are not interested in the antiques, they walk around looking at the old building.”
The building at 213 Chestnut St. was built as a garment factory in 1910 by the Raymond Overall Company, Turrell said. By the 1930s, it became a top-end dress factory producing hundreds of dresses each day for a Manhattan clientele.
“There were 100 ladies working on 100 sewing machines,” Turrell said. “They made really nice, expensive dresses — they sold them in the garment district in the city. When we sweep up, or when we change a space over to another vendor and use the magnet to sweep the pins we get bushels of pins and needles even after all these years.”
Turrell began his business in the former garment factory on April Fool’s Day in 1986 on a leap of faith.
A native of Oneonta, Turrell worked for Jewel Tea Company for 20 years. The business moved him around the country to 15 states — and back again. When he was moved back to upstate New York as a supervisor for an expansive territory, he was happy to be home.
Then the company wanted him to move again.
“They wanted us to move back to the mid-west,” Turrell said. “I told them that I really wanted to stay here and they said if I didn’t move I would not have a job. That was a 10 second interview, and I lost my job.”