If you grew up in Claiborne County or even visited it during the ’50s through the ’80s or beyond, chances are you took a roll around the skating rink on Hwy. 33 in New Tazewell.
Known for a long time as Tops Roller Rink, it was “the” place to gather with friends or even throw a party.
Now, the building has been re-purposed — but remnants of the old skating rink remain and a flood of memories may rush back when you walk in.
Travis Lester and his wife Shelley have worked to renovate the building, which now houses Legacy Printing & Antiques. They started slowly, out of their garage, after Travis decided he wanted to get out of the textile business he had been in for years. They began by printing items, which was started with a $2,000 loan from his father.
“It took a lot of hard work and a whole lot of nights to get to this point,” he said.
After the printing business took off, they began the antique business.
“Shelley had wanted to get into antiques, so we started going to estate sales,” he said.
From their garage, where they started in 2012, they moved into the building next door to the old rink, which used to house Judy’s Flowers & Gifts. They opened there on Oct. 31, 2014 and about sold out the first weekend, he said.
They outgrew that building and settled into the old skating rink when it became available.
“It felt like we’re the luckiest people in the world to get this building,” Travis said, adding that they have done everything they could to keep the integrity of the building. “I felt like we’d won the lottery when we were able to buy this building.”
Travis, who grew up in Claiborne County, wanted to keep as many memories alive in the building as he could.
The floor of the building has been preserved and is still natural like you might have skated on back in the day — and you might even see some roller skates sitting around. The original signs are there as well.
The business is definitely a family one, with their children, parents, Travis’ 83-year-old grandmother and aunt all pitching in. Shelley has been working full-time as a dental hygienist during the day and on the family business at night.
“I don’t like it when I hear people say they can’t do this or that,” he said. “You can do anything if you’ll just work at it.”
The business prints items and distributes nationally — unions are their biggest printing customers, he said, with Legacy’s motto of “American Strong.” They print signs, banners, T-shirts, do monogramming and just about any printing job needed.
Travis, Shelley and their family also give back to the community. They’ve printed shirts and other items for numerous fundraisers for people in need.
“Any way we can help, we try our best,” he said. “We ain’t never given away nothing we missed.”
They travel all over the country to estate sales and to “pick” through antiques — often bringing back a trailer load of items for their antique mall. Legacy has a little bit of everything — antiques, homemade candles, books, jewelry, clothing and much more.
The building houses 11 vendors and a beauty salon. There are at least seven vendors on a waiting list for a spot, Travis added.
The Lesters want their business to be a destination for people who are traveling and chances are that dream will come true as well.
“We never envisioned getting to this point,” he said. “As we pay things off we’re growing; we put everything back into the business.”
Travis credits friends and the community as a whole for their success.
“Without people in the area trading with us we wouldn’t be here,” he said.
They will be holding a Grand Opening celebration on Dec. 3 from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. They’ll have food, music and drawings among other things.
“We want everybody to come out and see us,” Travis said.
You don’t have to wait until Dec. 3 to visit, though — the business is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. and on Saturday from 9:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. Legacy is closed on Sunday. The phone number is 423-626-2610.
Travis, a natural salesman with a friendly demeanor, will most likely be there, ready and willing to sell you anything you want — and maybe even talk you into buying something you didn’t think you wanted.
Reach Marisa Anders at 423-254-5588 or on Twitter @newsgirl88.