Thursday, March 5, 2009

Market Merchants Buy Agnew Seed Stores

Agnew Seed Stores outside (top) and inside (center) as the auction commences; Kirk and Tina Miller ( with Ken Farmer on the left) minutes before they won the bidding^

Kirk and Tina Miller, who own Walkabout Outfitters and Ladles and Linens on Roanoke City Market and two other stores in Lexington, are the new owners of the oldest continuously-operating seed store in Virginia, Agnew Seed Stores. The Millers, whose Roanoke stores are in the same block as Agnew, bid $525,000 ($551,000 with fees) on the property, assessed at $308,000 by the city.

Kirk Miller, who lives in Natural Bridge, said, "I don't know yet what we're going to do with it," but the building needs a good bit of rehabilitation. The Millers bought only the property and not the contents. Contents were sold in an auction following the building's sale.

The building, 4,750 square feet on two floors (with an office mezzanine office, as was common at the turn of the century), was constructed in 1904 and has been a mainstay of the City Market from Day 1. A death in the family of Agnew's owner, Kent Agnew, led to the closing by his widow Pat and the eventual sale. Bidding, conducted by Woltz Associates of Roanoke, quickly reached the sale price, surprising many in the crowd. Ken Farmer Associates of Radford conducted the sale of the building's contents. You might know Farmer from "Antiques Road Show."

There was an overflow crowd for the historic sale, but few in the crowd bid. John Garland, who president of Spectrum in Roanoke and a man who has bought several old buildings, says he believes the bid was too high, "unless you're going to live upstairs and not develop it."

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