LIMA — The line for the Ohio Theatre’s big Avante Garage Sale stretched back to the Allen County Courthouse on Saturday.
The new owners of 122 W. North St. wanted to clean things out and sell what they didn’t need as a way to raise money for much-needed repairs to the roof.
Collin Wise, of Lima, walked out with a Bud Light and a Michelob Ultra sign. Wise was first in line, arriving two hours before the sale officially opened at 10 a.m. Saturday.
“We saw it on Facebook, and we say the neon signs were a great deal, so we decided to go with it,” Wise said.
The neon signs were the first to sell out.
“They were all in the bar area,” said Joe Correll, a co-owner of the building.
The task of cleaning out the Ohio Theatre has been going on for the past three weeks.
“It’s several rooms of things. We found crazy things, so we wanted to be able to share the things with the people of Lima, especially a lot of this stuff is like memories of the place — like we have that Fantasia sign there from when it was a disco,” Correll said.
The building was purchased for $160,000, and you might say it’s a fixer-upper.
“The big repair right now is the roof of the building. It’s a big bill, so we want to raise money to get that fixed because once the roof is fixed, the rest will follow,” Correll said.
The new owners plan to open a restaurant and bring their theatre company, The Avante Garage, to the Ohio Theatre. The Avante Garage has performed in Nashville, New York City and Los Angeles.
The venue will still host live music and entertainment and will be available for wedding and special event rentals.
“We hope to be open next spring, but we’re not sure. It really depends on COVID and a lot of different factors,” Correll said.
The new owners had been looking for a place to call their own.
“This building was for sale, and it really spoke to us, but once we came here, we met the people and realized that it’s a much more arts-focused community than we even imagined,” Correll said.
Veronica Fox, with Superior Plus Realtors, added, “I had it listed for about a year, a year and a half. I’m just glad to find somebody who could see the potential and see what it could be. I loved the fact that they’re going to bring this to Lima. This was the first place I ever heard rock and roll back in the ‘80s, so it has some sentimental value.”
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.