Brundidge ‘gathering place’ shutting its doors

Published 11:00 pm Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Rue Botts is retiring again and, with the closing of her antiques shop, there will no longer be a “potbellied stove” gathering place in Brundidge.

For more than a decade, Rue’s Antiques Mall has been the place where folks got together to talk weather, politics, football and the price of tea in China.

Whether she was joking or not, Botts said that she won’t make the regular visitors to her store go cold turkey. She will be around from time to time, selling tickets to the We Piddle Around Theater, lining up a downtown parade or just plugging in the coffee pot.

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“I’m not selling the store and I kind of like the idea of having a place where people can go and get a cup coffee and fix the problems of the world,” Botts said. “So, who knows? I might put in a few tables and chairs and put on a pot of coffee every now and then.”

Botts said she didn’t open an antiques shop to make money. She just wanted to be a part of the place she called home.

“When I retired from Fort Rucker, I wanted to do something where I would be involved in the community,” she said. “Retirement meant being able to be home. It meant settling down, getting back to my roots. I had always thought I would like to have a shop of some kind and antiques were really big. So, I went into the antiques business.”

But Rue’s Antiques quickly became a front for other endeavors. Her antiques mall became the ticket outlet for the all of the Brundidge Historical Society’s events at the We Piddle Around Theater.

“I sold tickets so long they finally felt sorry for me and gave me a part in the play,” Botts said laughing. “I think they did that because they were scared that I was going to stop selling tickets.”

Botts’ involvement in the Brundidge Business Association and her front row seat on Main Street made her business the prime “signing up” place for parades and beauty pageants.

“Parades just don’t come marching down the street,” she said. “There’s a lot of work that goes into them and you’ve got to have a stopping off place and I was it.”

Rue’s Antiques Mall was a favorite place to visit whether folks were in the market for antiques or just for small talk.

“We’ve all had a good time sitting and talking and we’ve done it for so many years that I’ll miss seeing everybody,” she said. “Many of the merchants would take a break and come in a sit and just about everybody that came up or down the street would poke their heads in for a minute. I enjoyed being a part of the community in that way as much as being involved in different organizations.”

But, there comes a time when it’s time to retire in order to have time to do the things that have been on the backburner for a while.

“And, time to do some of the things that you want to do while you can,” Botts said. “But, I’ll still sell tickets and help with parades but I just won’t have a clock to punch.”

Botts did admit that there will be some sadness Saturday when the antiques that fill her store are auctioned to the highest bidder.

“I thought about a big sale but that could drag on and on,” she said. “An auction will be the best and quickest way to close up shop. I’m retiring from business but I’ll still be involved in the community. And, when I’m in the store, the door will be open to anybody that wants to come in and sit a while. We haven’t solved all of the world’s problems … yet.”