A former well-known department store in downtown Sedalia has been transformed into the area’s latest event venue.
Michelle and Mark Quattlebaum purchased The Venue, 219 S. Ohio Ave., in March 2018 and turned it into a popular wedding and event destination. Most longtime Sedalia residents will recognize the building as the former C.W. Flowers, which has been home to a number of businesses since its first days as a department store that boasted Sedalia’s first and only escalator.
Michelle Quattlebaum said she had been thinking about becoming a wedding planner when she visited the venue, which was also a wedding venue before the Quattlebaums purchased it, with a friend in September 2017.
“I just remember thinking, ‘if this was mine I would do this, I would do this.’ Even when I left I remember looking behind thinking, ‘man that should be mine,’” Quattlebaum said. “A few months later we were driving by and there was a ‘for sale’ sign on the front door. I almost made my husband wreck because I said, ‘oh my gosh, stop the car.’”
Her husband and his business partner buy and flip houses, so they decided to purchase the property. And just like that, Quattlebaum became a wedding planner.
But first came months of renovations.
Although it was previously a wedding venue, a lot of work was needed; Quattlebaum said they filled 17 dumpsters with trash before even beginning construction.
She brought an industrial theme to the space, using inspiration from her time living in Kansas City and the many event venues she had seen. The idea was to make the space already look like a wedding venue without needing much decor, she said.
The first floor was completed first and the couple kept as much of the “original character” of the 1906 building as they could: wood flooring that they had to strip three times, tin ceilings that have been painted, and brick that was uncovered on all the walls. While the escalator is hidden from public view, it is still intact behind a wall. The old tubes used to send money from the first floor clerks to the second-floor cashiers aren’t in use but are still attached to the walls.
The venue does feature a new bar with a concrete countertop, a small kitchen, and a stage.
The next project was tackling the second floor, which previously housed fitting rooms for C.W. Flowers. It has been converted into the groom’s suite and bride’s suite, with each bridal party member getting their own area to display their clothing and the fitting rooms are still there, just with a new look.
“The groom’s suite is probably my favorite,” Quattlebaum said as she took the Democrat on a tour. It includes a small bar area, plenty of space for getting ready, a sitting room with a large TV, two fitting rooms, and a pool table.
It has been a family affair, with their three children helping out where they could and Quattlebaum bringing toys, food and an air mattress for late renovation nights.
She and her husband also had full-time jobs while renovating The Venue, but after six months Quattlebaum quit her job, making the unique transition from lead assistant at the Katy Trail Community Health dental clinic to venue owner. She didn’t have a concrete reason for the switch, but knew opening The Venue was an opportunity she couldn’t pass up.
“I honestly love this building,” she said. “Think of how many memories are in here. I love having people come in and say, ‘oh I remember that was over there.’ It’s childhood memories coming back. There’s so many memories and nostalgia, it means more.”
She has dubbed that particular section of South Ohio Avenue as Wedding Avenue with Hotel Bothwell, Classic Jewelry, The Venue and Kay’s Bridal, plus State Fair Floral up the street. She said she has good relationships with each business, among others, and tries to offer local recommendations to brides when she can, although customers can choose any vendors they’d like.
The Bothwell Foundation hosted its annual fundraiser in November, the first major event at The Venue. Since then, The Venue has hosted six weddings and a number of fundraisers, bridal and baby showers and birthday parties. A preschool graduation was even hosted for the Quattlebaum’s youngest child and her classmates. Quattlebaum said she has about 30 weddings booked so far in 2019 and 2020 but is still working to spread the word about Sedalia’s latest wedding option.
In the future, Quattlebaum hopes to turn the basement into storage, half for brides to store their wedding decor prior to the big day and half for storing decor she acquires from brides who no longer want it that could be rented to future brides.
Even after a year of renovations, Quattlebaum still spends much of her time at The Venue and is typically there for every event to make sure everything goes smoothly.
“I’m in charge of the biggest day of their life besides having kids,” Quattlebaum said. “I want it to be perfect.”
For more information, visit thevenuesedalia.com.