Iconic Gold Coast Antique Store Closes After Developer Purchase Famous Coolangatta Building

There aren’t many places where you could find a portrait of Jesus sitting next to a two-meter tall Indonesian idol and a spooky doll.

For 22 years, Simon Koschel has been buying and selling weird items in his Coolangatta antique store – 20th Century Antiques and Collectibles – and amassing a collection he can’t even consider.

“God knows – hundreds of thousands,” he said.

But Mr Koschel has about two weeks to sell his stock, with this southern Gold Coast retail legend shutting down as a sign of changing times.

Simon Koschel owns a beloved nostalgia-inducing antique store in Coolangatta.(ABC Gold Coast: Dominic Cansdale)

“It just doesn’t work”

The owner of Mr Koschel’s building sold the site to the Beckdev company earlier this year, with plans underway for a residential development.

“We are now working in close collaboration with [architecture firm BDA] to ensure this project is well received by the local community for an innovative design that also pays homage to a forgotten part of our history that has delighted so many generations before us, ”Beckdev director Ben Beck said in June.

A black and white photo of a crowd in a dance hall.
Jazzland was built in the 1920s and operated as a dance hall for over two decades.(Provided: Gold Coast City Libraries Local Studies Collection)

The McLean Street address was the site of the historic Jazzland Dance Hall, which was popular in the 1930s and 1940s.

This is the latest in a series of well-known South Gold Coast sites being redeveloped in a booming real estate market.

“It’s sad because people like to physically come and pick things up and search,” Koschel said.

“You can come here and see a lot of things that you would never see elsewhere.

A statue of a cow in formal dress in a strange shop full of mysterious material.
Simon Koschel says he collected “hundreds of thousands” of objects.(ABC Gold Coast: Dominic Cansdale)

Mr Koschel said he would not be able to sell his huge stock on time and planned to find storage as he moved the business online.

“The retail side is getting very expensive. Owners want the best price not necessarily value for money,” he said.

“Unless you get a large space for a reasonable price, it just doesn’t work.”

A man in a flat cap and hi-vis shirt stands in a shop full of trinkets.
Ross Simeone has collected most of his life.(ABC Gold Coast: Dominic Cansdale)

“Tastes change”

Ross Simeone is a dedicated collector who has been selling items in the store for years.

“Everyone who comes here is sad to see it close, but times are changing,” he said.

A man walks through a department store filled with strange goods from floor to ceiling.
20th century antiques and collectibles will be missed by many.(ABC Gold Coast: Dominic Cansdale)

But he said people want “all for nothing” and niche trading faces a tough future.

“In the old days, everyone’s mother or grandmother had a dresser in her house or a shelf where she put her trinkets,” Simeone said.

“Whereas now I guess people don’t have that many large properties, units and small areas, so they can’t have that stuff and they don’t have the same disposable income.”

Mr Koschel said the future of antique stores looked “quite limited”.

“People’s tastes are changing,” he said.

An old record on a shelf surrounded by tchotchkies.
Items of retro pop culture are very present in the store.(ABC Gold Coast: Dominic Cansdale)

Time for a break

Mr Simeone said after the store closes he “might just take a break for a while.”

“It’s a bit sad – Simon has been here for a long time,” he said.

A sign in a quirks shop that reads "Texaco".
Many items will be stored.(ABC Gold Coast: Dominic Cansdale)

But Mr Koschel, who has been collecting since growing up with his father, said he would continue.

“I remember as a little picker I would go to some of the auctions around the country and bring back things like pews,” he said.

“A lot of young children have never seen a radial dial telephone; they’ve only ever had iPhones.

20th century antiques and collectibles in McLean Street, Coolangatta.(ABC Gold Coast: Dominic Cansdale)

Mr Koschel said he expected a lot of price haggling over the next two weeks, but some items simply meant too much to sell.

“There are a couple of tracks that you look at and think, ‘I just gotta keep this,’” he said.

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