BOARDMAN, Ohio – About 10 years ago, an idea for a business that would support hundreds of small businesses awoke Robert Neapolitan in the middle of the night.
Flash forward to today, and Mr. Darby’s Antique & Collectible Emporium is doing just that. Mr. Darby’s, 8574 Market St. in Boardman, is more than just an antique mall, says Neapolitan, who owns and operates the store with his wife, Karen.
Since 2012, Mr. Darby’s has increased its business each year, Neapolitan says. Today, it houses 85 vendors – small businesses in their own right – who rent space to sell their own products. Neapolitan attributes the company’s success to its vendors.
“The word antique mall sometimes gives people the wrong idea of what’s behind our doors,” Neapolitan says. “Yes, we sell antiques. But we also sell so much more. We have collectibles, home decor, furniture, vintage and new toys, coins, jewelry and the list is endless.”
As other retailers struggle with supply shortages, the Neapolitans’ vendors stock mostly upcycled products.
“Our vendors source most of their items locally. Not only does it support them but it supports the people they buy from,” Karen Neapolitan says.
The pandemic drove more business to Mr. Darby’s, according to the couple. The company launched its e-commerce website, ShopCoolVintageDecor.com, during the shutdowns. It features products not shown in the store.
Mr. Darby’s also has found a niche in supplying set designers with props, from Saturday Night Live in New York City to movie studios in Burbank, Calif. Companies like Netflix, Amazon, CBS, Paramount Pictures and others “love our selection along with our reasonable prices compared to larger cities,” Robert Neapolitan says.
“This was a part of the business we never expected to be involved in,” he says. “In the last month, we have sold props to a new Netflix movie on MLK, and a series based on the 1992 movie ‘A League of Their Own,’ starring Madonna and Rosie O’Donnell, now being produced by Sony Pictures and Amazon Studios.”
The company also conducts online auctions of estate sales.
Mr. Darby’s is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday to Saturday, and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
Pictured at top: Robert and Karen Neapolitan own Mr. Darby’s Antique & Collectible Emporium.