Trails Market and Art Gallery offers Topeka a new venue

The southern link to NOTO

by Leigh Elmore
Photography by Patti Klinge

Topeka's art and vintage scene grew a little richer this fall with the opening of Trails, a new art gallery and vintage market, located in an historic block downtown. In fact, the new venue anchors the south side of the Kansas River bridge, which links the city to the NOTO Arts District, situated at the northern end of the bridge viaduct.

Jeff Hisey and Geri Cummings, co-owners of Trails Market in Topeka.

Located at 109 N. Topeka Ave, Trails is the realization of the dream of owner Jeff Hisey, an artist embarking on a new career path following his recent retirement from Hallmark Cards' closed Topeka facility.

Trails Market offers a spacious shopping venue.

"As an artist I wanted to do something completely different; I wanted to create a space where people can come and have a good time, show art, see art and sell their art," Hisey said. The business will have plenty of room to expand to the upper floors and even the basement as it grows, Hisey explained, and he hopes that growth will come from more and more antique and vintage dealers renting space in the cavernous building that was originally a bank operated by International Harvester, he said. "It's one of the oldest buidings in Topeka."

Co-owners Geri Cummings and Jeff Hisey greet visitors and shoppers in the art gallery at their grand opening.

Geri Cummings, is the business manager for Trails, and an artist in her own right an familiar with the term "starving artist." "That's why we simply rent artists the wall space to display their art. We don't take a cut of their sales," she said. "We want artists to make the money." It's fitting perhaps that the two met at a yard sale and realized they had compatible visions. "We both love to 'junk'," Hisey said. "and we are both idea persons. I didn't have to twist her arm." They explained that the building is one of the oldest buildings in Topeka, right on the route of the Oregon and California Trails, thus inspiring the gallery's name Trails.

Dealer Terry McPherson and her granddaughter Jordyn Cottrell.

Currently, 15 vendors are participating in the Trails vintage market, with room for more, said Cummings. "Again, we only charge for the booth space, we don't take any commissions on our dealers' sales," she said. Hisey and Cummings want to provide studio space for local artists as well as offering space for art classes. "We'd like to focus on teaching art to children," Hisey said. "I think children are losing sight of what art really is. There is not enough time spent on art in the schools and the approach is too traditional when it is taught."

Artist Judy Kaster of Witches, Wizards and Santas demonstrates her doll-making technique. (r) One of her delightful elfin creations.

"We'd like to teach kids more of a free-form approach to art in a way that will affect their outlook on life," Hisey said. "I've always colored outside the lines myself."

Chloe Hicks serenades visitors at the grand opening.

At the grand opening of Trails held on Nov. 1, the space was full of art, vintage artifacts and live music. In the front reception area, Chloe Hicks, a local high school student, sang lovely ballads while accompanying herself on guitar, while on the side loading dock the bluegrass band, Jed Zeplin, entertained with a lively set.

Bluegrass band, Jed Zeplin adds to the music during the grand opening.

If you missed the festivities this time around, Hisey and Cummings are planning a holiday open house, Nov. 29-30, beginning at 5 p.m. on Friday.

Dealer Bob Asselin gets comfortable in an easy chair in his booth during the Trails' grand opening.

And vintage dealer Bob Asselin, the "B" of E&B Collectibles (Emery Corbett is the "E") was happy enough in his corner space to sit in an easy chair and put his feet up on an ottoman, smiling and taking it all in. "It's really fun," he observed contentedly.

Dealer Patty Koerner and one of her treasures (r).

Others were also in a festive mood at the grand opening. Patty and John Koerner, for example, operate under the trade name of Koerner's Korner, with 37 years worth of glassware, china and "everything," Patty said. "We saw an ad that Trails was looking for vendors, so we signed up. Jeff and Geri are doing a nice job. We've been collectors for so long, we've accumulated too much stuff. Here we are."

Trails co-owner Geri Cummings in her booth offering antiques and refinished furniture.

Trails is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday every week, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. On the first Friday of each month it is open 5-9 p.m. Call (785)-806-7171 to inquire about renting space.
The website is: http://

Leigh Elmore can be contacted at