Ruth Mackey - started out by tossing in her wares
with the 'country cousins' that occupied the old grocery store section of the 'Osborn block' across Main
She then struck out on her own at 110 South Main naming the businness "The collectors" in 1982. First by
renting the space and eventually the Ron
and Ruth Mackey bought the building.
Ron and Ruth travelled the auction routes buying antiques. The wood furniture and pieces Ron would refurbish
in the basement for re-sale up in the store.
By the end of the 1980's Ruth began taking classes in bear making which she done in the small back section
of the antique store. When Mary's Shoppe vacated the southern end in the mid 1990's they expanded the anitgue
store over into the southern portion (for more space for her bears, thus the humble beginnings of 'the bears End")
and made a doorway between the two sections.
Their son Donald B. Mackey 'Don' got the so-called bug for antiquing in the early 1990's and he soon quit his
Indianapolis union job in the theater to join his parents in the antique business
With the economy of the last decade declining interest in antiquing has also declined - thus making it hard to
keep an adequate 'profit margin' to justify keeping the "The collector's' open any longer.
The remaineder of the Bears End's has moved back into the 'The Collector's building and and it is hoped
that by summer's end most of their stock will be sold out. they will close the doors at summers end; only
possibly opening around christmas time and during the summer months.
There is future plans to rent out both store fronts next year to others.
Ruth Mackie, nearly 30 years in Culver ís downtown, retires Bear End, Collectors
June 16, 2011 By Jeff Kenney
Don and Ruth Mackie of The Collectors and The Bear End in Culver .
As the years have rolled in, not many local business people continue to be familiar faces in Culver
from 25-plus years back, but Ruth Mackie's is just such a familiar face, though after almost three
decades as a staple of Culver 's downtown business community, she's preparing to bid the Collectors
antique store and the Bear End farewell, after this summer.
Mackie, a Culver High School graduate and lifelong resident whose father had been a school teacher
and later a printer at Culver Academy, says she began dabbling in antiques in the early 1980s, as
she and late husband Ronald (a World War II veteran who had once been a German prisoner of war, and
who passed away in 2000), began clearing out her parents' household things. Prior to that, she had
worked for the Culver Citizen, the Academy bookstore, the Culver Inn, and even the Snyder Cafe at
Jefferson and Main Streets, she recalls.
Prior to opening the Collectors, she threw in her lot with Country Cousins, an antique shop across
the street from her present store at 110
South Main Street
She began renting space of her own (in the north section only) at 110 South Main in 1982, though
eventually the family would buy the building. The south portion of the building would later be rented
to Mary Tanguy for the first incarnation of her Mary's Shoppe, though various entities had made use
of that portion of the building prior.
Mackie, in the early to mid-1990s, bought the smaller, one-story structure at 114 South Main, at auction.
Early in the Mackies' ownership of it, Jean Snyder's Thru the Grape Vine shop occupied the space, prior
to Mary's Shoppe moving in (sharing space with Nancy Baxter). Tanguy would relocate Mary's Shoppe to
102 South Main
, site of today's Culver Academies
Museum & Gift Shop, around 2000, leaving the building open for a new hobby of Ruth Mackie's.
Around 1990, when she took a class in making bears, she recalls she "got so excited" and began making the
plush toys out of old fur coats. The back end of the store became "the bear end," as it was the site her
After the departure of Mary's Shoppe from 114 South Main
Mackie decided to open up an entire shop specializing in bears and plush animals, and today's The Bear End was
The shop has carried numerous lines of quality bears and other stuffed animals, but both Ruth and son Don Mackie,
who got involved seriously in the business in the mid-1990s, recall with a smile the days of the "Beanie Baby"
craze in the 1990s, which Ruth says paid for the shop to put in awnings and receive a new paint job!
"We would get in shipments (of Beanie Babies) and put them in bags for people who were hooked and had requested
them.," Don says. "People would follow the UPS truck here, and once someone got so angry he wanted to fight me
in the street over (buying a) Beanie Baby!"
Ruth's hand-made bears were localized to include Culver attire, and were given the monikers "Susie Culver " and
"Teddy Culver". Those, and all of the more than 600 bears she hand-made, were big sellers through the years, and
often grew from customers' bringing in treasured items such as a deceased parent's fur coat, to have a bear made
from the material.
At least two local enthusiasts were buried with the bears Ruth Mackie personally made for them, and one customer
told her the hand-made bears sat in the front pew at her daughterís wedding. "We called ourselves the 'largest
little bear shop in Northern Indiana,'" she notes.
The opening of the bear store led to a door being created between the two buildings, which has remained there ever
On the antique side of the business, Don Mackie notes the Collectors has specialized in vintage wicker furniture
and its repair, and featured a great deal of refinished, antique furniture over the years.
Don himself says he "got the bug" for antiques most specifically when helping with some of the antique shows his
parents participated in (many of which took place in m ultiple states across the country). Seeing the sales
available in the business, he quit a Union job in theater in Indianapolis to go into the antique business.
However, the economy and changing tastes have driven down the profit margin for antiques considerably, he explains,
and he's been forced to take up a sideline business (which is featured at the Collectors): the sale of cowhide-covered
furniture and accessories, which is currently quite popular around the country. He travels from Boston to Houston,
Florida back to Culver , on a regular basis.
Those profit margins are also part of the reason for the impending demise of the Collectors and the Bear End as regular
businesses in Culver .
Don and Ruth say they hope to sell most of the remaining bear inventory by the end of this summer (most of their stock
is already 50 percent off), and that's also when they'll close the Collectors' doors, though Don stresses he plans to
reopen the antique store around Christmas and during summertimes, when he can.
Starting next year, he says, he'd like to rent out the two storefronts, but until then, "We'll have a store here. I
never want newspapers in the windows downtown, especially here."
At least at the former Bear End locale, that won't be a problem.
Don is hard at work redoing that building (and its hardwood floors) for the opening of Civvies, "a fun and fashionable
little shop with hand-picked clothing, accessories and furnishings," says information given Mackie by new renters
Julie Workman and Julie Brooks. The store is slated to open in July.
The thing I will miss most is the people," says Ruth Mackie of her upcoming retirement. "Some are very dear friends I
will miss. There are wonderf ul people people here, but of course that's just Culver . I've had a lot of fun here."