C.A.A.T. lady calls it a day
Closing up collectibles shop at Copper Country Mall
HOUGHTON — The owner and sole operator of Betty’s C.A.A.T. Collectibles is retiring after seven years of selling antiques and art in the Copper Country Mall.
After the busier summer tourist season, Betty Chavis is preparing for the inevitable by offering her stock at half price before closing up shop by the end of the year.
“Trust me, that makes me want to cry,” she admitted. While Chavis has been hoping to recoup more of the money spent over the years collecting her stock, she’s also facing facts.
“It started out good,” Chavis said of the market, but noted younger people aren’t as interested in old household items. “The bottom is falling out in antiques.”
C.A.A.T. stands for collectibles, art, antiques and treasures, and Betty’s cozy store near center court is chock-full of antique dishes, jewelry, framed art, old books and albums and much more.
Chavis said she been accumulating items since she was a young adult.
“In the beginning, it was a hobby,” she said. “It just got out of hand. I always loved the old, pretty stuff. I love glass. Everything’s quality. It has to be quality. I don’t like crappy junk.”
Some people come back year after year to check out Betty’s collection.
“That makes you feel kind of good,” Chavis said, smiling, remembering the friends she’s made in business.
But with the business shutting down, this part of her full life is coming to a close.
The decision marks another retirement for the well-known 83-year-old Houghton woman, who started the town’s now-famous Parade of Nations, while successfully increasing minority involvement at Michigan Tech as an administrator.
Having lost her mother at 12, Chavis was raised by a indulgent grandmother who allowed her to pursue her dreams.
“I started out in show business. I wanted to dance,” she said, adding she performed all over the world before leaving that profession.
In between dancing and working at Tech for 23 years, Chavis worked for former state Sen. Basil Brown in Lansing after earning her undergraduate degree at Wayne State University.
Still on her toes, she plans to remain in the area.
“My family is pretty much here,” Chavis said. “This is my home.”