Of Antiques and Elephants
The Pink Elephant Antique Mall offers more than curios for the curious
By Jen Danzinger
The Pink Elephant Antique Mall is a relatively new Route 66 roadside attraction.
A giant pink elephant greets travelers on a stretch of Route 66 that winds through Livingston, Ill. The statue is the mascot of The Pink Elephant Antique Mall, and is part of a collection of oddities displayed amongst the collectibles inside.
“The elephant came from a convenience store in Granite City. My daughter-in-law bought it for her husband [Dave Hammond, Jr.] as a birthday present,” Dave Hammond, Sr. explains. After a thoughtful pause, Dave adds, “He’s into that weird stuff.”
Both father and son are partners in The Pink Elephant Antique Mall, which used to be housed in Benld’s Coliseum Ballroom, but moved into the vacant Livingston High School almost three years ago. The move gave them more square footage and a location convenient to I-55, where drivers moving parallel to old Route 66 can see the tempting stop for antique hunters and roadside attraction buffs alike.
In addition to the pink elephant, there are two smaller grey elephants and a giant inexplicably dressed in swim trunks displayed outside the antique mall. Inside, strategically stationed beside booths are “Hank” (a 12-foot-tall Muffler Man), an 8-foot-tall Jolly Green Giant and mannequins dressed for the wild west.
When asked why the Hammonds paired statues with antiques, Dave Sr. answered “We figured it would be an attention-getter. There are people coming in and taking pictures of them all the time.” Visitors from countries such as China, Brazil and Germany have stopped at the Pink Elephant Antique Mall before continuing on their Route 66 journey.
The Pink Elephant Antique Mall
Just off I-55, Exit 37
Open 7 days a week:
9:30 am – 5:00 pm
One would think that today’s record-breaking gas prices would cause people to cut back on road trips, but Dave Sr. hasn’t seen a decline in business. “A lot of people are like me: if they want to go somewhere, they’re going to go,” he explains.
For those more interested in shopping for treasures than taking snapshots of statues, the mall has about 40 dealers and every booth is filled with furniture, jewelry, toys, collectibles, crafts and more. The entire old gymnasium, including the stage, houses antiques, and the booths continue into classrooms in the lower and upper levels of the high school.
Dave Sr. touts convenience and friendliness among the mall’s assets. “The people who work here are very helpful and friendly. They have a good time working here. And we always have the coffee pot on.”
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