Boardtown Trading Post to close up shop by end of May

A view inside Boardtown Trading Post before it closes at the end of May (photo by Lanecha Turner, SDN)

One of the notable storefronts in downtown Starkville will soon close its doors for good, with the store’s longtime owners deciding to retire.

Boardtown Trading Post opened on Jackson Street in 1994 and for more than two decades has bought and sold a menagerie of antique memories. Patrons could choose from quirky artwork, antique home furnishings, and the wide-range of knickknacks that can only be founded in a family-run trading post.

Husband and wife duo Jimmy and Nora Cole - the store’s owners - recently decided to end their lengthy careers in the antique trade, with the store scheduled to close for good by the end of May.

In their time manning the store, they have talked with Antiques Roadshow, who interviewed Jimmy, all while greeting the faces of the many customers drawn to the shop.

Nora Cole said the store’s customer base is made unique by the people the area attracts.

“Older people - student’s parents and people visiting the vet school - have been customers,” she said. “We’ve had them come in and say, ‘Today is the last day you’re going to see me because my son is about to graduate and we live down on the coast,’ so that’s going to be the hard part.”

Jimmy Cole - an accomplished local historian in his own right - said the number of interesting items that have come through the store is hard to pinpoint, but some of the more eye-grabbing offerings include antique coffins and decades-old letters.

One collection of documents required Jimmy Cole to drive all the way to Ohio to pick them up. The collection included letters from Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and James Monroe, to name a few.

The letters were dated from 1805 to 1830, and came from a family that kept them for 200 years.

“We had one that was 65 pages,” Jimmy Cole said. “Instructions to surrender in the War of 1812. It’s a quarter of a million dollar document.”

Nora Cole remembered two coffins obtained by the store. When opened, both had skeletons in them and one was actually real. The couple ended up donating the medical skeleton put into the casket to scientific research at a medical school.

“People have bought the caskets, so I was surprised,” Nora Cole said. “We sold our last casket the other day. “

As Jimmy and Nora Cole reminisced about the history attached to their careers, one chapter is left to be written. When asked about what retirement will hold, Nora Cole’s answer was simple.

“Everybody asks us and we don’t know,” she said.