Sophie Bolich

American Estates Antique Store Closing

Bay View shop closing after 50 years in business. Final sale set for April 1.

By - Mar 28th, 2023 10:16 am
American Estates antique store, 2131 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. Photo taken March 28, 2023 by Sophie Bolich.

American Estates antique store, 2131 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. Photo taken March 28, 2023 by Sophie Bolich.

American Estates, a Bay View antique store, is preparing to close for good after more than 50 years in business.

The family-owned store, 2131 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., has held several sales leading up to its closure at the end of April.

Owner Leonard Budney said that remaining items include magnets, candy molds, vintage wood carvings, piles of magazines and boxes of toys, as well as shelving and display cases.

Budney opened American Estates half a century ago with his brother-in-law. Starting with a small assemblage of vintage items, the pair grew their collection by traveling door-to-door in the neighborhood, asking residents if they had anything they’d like to sell.

“That’s how I got my start,” said Budney, who eventually amassed thousands of miscellaneous vintage items such as skeleton keys, posters, embossed bricks, books, plates, puzzle, pins, VHS tapes, records and more. He also acquired dozens of salvaged architectural pieces — key to restoring historic buildings — including backplates, door hinges and stained glass.

Budney previously worked in the architecture business, which allowed him to get up close and personal with some of Milwaukee’s oldest buildings. His projects included taking apart a church, removing the terracotta from “beautiful homes,” he notes, and uninstalling stained glass windows.

Budney’s brother captured many of these buildings in photos, which have been compiled into a lookbook that gives viewers a glimpse into the city’s rich architectural history.

Budney’s days of hoisting windows and terracotta pieces may be in the past, but the 90-year-old said he’s still willing to contribute to smaller projects, such as removing hardware from buildings slated for demolition.

“I still get around good,” he said.

American Estates is located inside a 6,018-square-foot building across the street from KinetiK apartments. The building is owned by a limited liability company connected to Shirley Konopski.

Budney speculates that the building will be torn down, he told Urban Milwaukee, with a new structure built to replace it. The 1929 building originally operated as a car dealership.

Konopski, along with Tim Olson and Alyssa Moore, owns several properties in Bay View through other limited liability firms including a former funeral home and the previous site of Bella’s Fat Cat, 2737 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.

American Estates will be open this Saturday, April 1, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. A representative of the store confirmed that the American Estates will host several more sales throughout the month of April.

Questions and inquiries can be directed to the business’s Facebook page.


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