Retail Revival

Fun and function live in harmony at The Exchange.

Stepping into the stores at The Exchange is a bit like embarking on an adventure. The former World War II munitions plant at 2217 N. Kentucky Ave. may be nearly 90 years old, but the shops giving it new life lend it several surprises.

Ann Tornatta and Kathryn Nix of Tickled Pink

Ann Tornatta bought the building more than a year ago with her husband, Troy, a commercial broker with Hahn Kiefer Real Estate Services. She chose The Exchange because of its proximity to U.S. 41 and Diamond Avenue and its “historic strip center vibe.” The building mostly was storage space and needed renovations. In September came Tickled Pink, the vintage home and garden store she opened with friend Kathryn Nix.

“Any time you are in business with your best friend, you have fun,” Tornatta says.

She and Nix venture to Florida each February to source refurbished home furnishings, vintage decor, garden accents, tableware, and artwork, but they also find unique items at regional auctions and estate sales.

Tornatta also started a merchants’ association among The Exchange’s other shop owners that plans events and promotions, helps make connections, and shares advice.

Cathy Martin of Black Cat Antiques with Snowball

Black Cat Antiques, selling vintage and upcycled items, has occupied part of The Exchange for seven years. Owner Cathy Martin, a former pharmacy technician of 23 years, started restoring and repurposing furniture and antique items full-time 10 years ago. When she wanted a brick-and-mortar space, The Exchange had just what she needed.

“I liked that there is a workshop in the back, and the front is perfect for loading and unloading,” Martin says. “It has an industrial vibe that is really nice.”

Alane and Bob Thomas owned RJ Thomas Ltd., a furniture showroom in Troy, Michigan. They moved to Evansville to be closer to family and opened Interior Goods, a home furnishings store, in May. Alane praises the merchants’ association.

“Everybody has each other’s backs. We help each other,” she says.

Alane and Bob Thomas of Interior Goods

The Gilded Lily, a vintage home decor shop, opened in April. Owner Lisa Miller traveled across the country to vintage markets and shows for her own at-home business, L.A. 1967. When she and her husband Keith wanted to plant roots, The Exchange fit like a glove.

“I liked that it was an old, historic building,” she says. “It was perfect.”

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Maggie Valenti
Maggie Valenti
Maggie Valenti joined Tucker Publishing Group in September 2022 as a staff writer. She graduated from Gettysburg College in 2020 with a bachelors degree in English. A Connecticut native, Maggie has ridden horses for 15 years and has hunt seat competition experience on the East Coast.

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