Eclectic one-stop-shop opens up in Tama

Photos by ALlison Graham Matt Roberts, owner of Big Yellow (right) and Carl Hentsch, owner of 3 Dog Design Co. stand outside their newly opened storefront in downtown Tama. The store is located on Third Street and is open Thursdays through Saturdays 11-4 or by appointment.

A new store with a vintage flair is open for business in downtown Tama.

Big Yellow, owned and operated by Matt Roberts, is a one-stop-shop for antiques, fabrics, soaps, figurines, purses, crystals, candy and more.

Inspired by his grandparents his love for antiquing began at a young age. Roberts is a fourth generation antiquer.

“It’s in my blood,” said Roberts.

Roberts and his grandparents, Betty and Virgil St. John, traveled across the country visiting places such as Estes Park, Co.; Paducah, Ky; Wichita, Kan.; and Duluth, Minn. attending junket trails.

Matt Roberts, owner of the new store Big Yellow, places some items in a jewelry case. Big Yellow recently opened in downtown Tama.

The St. Johns owned their own antique store in Le Grand for many years and are well known in the antiquing community. Their store was the largest glassware shop in the country.

Betty and Virgil taught Roberts tips and tricks for spotting authentic antique pieces. One of those tips is looking for the Aladdin stamp on a lamp turn knob or glass chimney. That’s how you can tell it’s an authentic piece. It also makes the piece more expensive.

Lighting and lamps are Roberts personal favorite antique pieces he has for sale. His shop is filled with a variety of options as many people are looking for parlor lamps. Roberts likes to mix old and new in his merchandise.

“My personal flair is Asian antiques and that’s what I have in my home,” said Roberts.

He likes the colors used in traditional Asian pieces including oranges, greens and mother of pearl.

Roberts is a Marshalltown native. He moved to Tama in 2019 from Lake of the Ozarks. He began his business out of the home he purchased in Tama.

Roberts bought the home formerly owned by Ron and Darla Cory. The house happens to be yellow which inspired the name of Roberts business. He has a background in retail design and merchandising and has years of experience working for places such as HGTV, Home Decorators Collection which was bought out by Home Depot, IKEA and as a buyer for UnityPoint gift shops.

Part of Big Yellow’s charm is the collaboration Roberts has incorporated into the store. He has five consignors who sell their products out of Big Yellow.

Jennifer Kucera who is local to the Tama-Toledo area has jewelry for sale. Products from a business out of Laurel called Happy Cakes and Sensations out of De Moines can be found along with soaps from a company in Connecticut and Eternal Stitch Studio out of Tennessee.

Also operating out of the store is 3 Dog Design Co. owned and operated by Carl Hentsch who is the fabric master and has a variety of fabrics for sale.

Roberts and Hentsch met in Overland Park in 2006. Roberts left the Midwest for about a decade but moved back in 2018 to be a head designer for IKEA.

The two reconnected and moved to Lake of the Ozarks and then to Tama. The Cory House is actually what brought them to the area.

“This grew from a passion of mine. On the weekends Carl and I would go on junket trails around Iowa,” Roberts said. “That’s really what got me going. I had so much overflow of my own from moving around that country that I had a stash of my own. I thought about all the other people who have little shops, why can’t we. So it started with just the junket trails last fall and we’ve had a lot of requests to open a store. We’ve always wanted to do a quilting store for fabric so we combined them together and came up with this concept.”

Roberts is on Facebook and can ship most items within the United States. He strives to replenish the store weekly so there is always fresh merchandise to purchase.

Big Yellow is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday through Saturday. He is also available for appointments.


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