Metro-East News

Classic car dealer offers venue to zip up your parties, events

John Busch, events coordinator for Gateway Classic Cars, stands with Sarah Boothby, Public Relations for the firm, in front of three classic Corvettes on display inside the immense showroom. The business is beginning to allow parties inside their store.
John Busch, events coordinator for Gateway Classic Cars, stands with Sarah Boothby, Public Relations for the firm, in front of three classic Corvettes on display inside the immense showroom. The business is beginning to allow parties inside their store. News-Democrat

A metro-east business is offering customers a unique place to throw a party.

Now you can reserve a space among the 125 antique sports cars at Gateway Classic Cars in O’Fallon to hold your event. The business moved to 1237 Central Park Drive after 15 years in Fairmont City, and events coordinator John Busch was looking for uses for some unused space within the 127,000-square-foot showroom, which formerly housed American Furniture and Appliance. Only about 80,000 square feet was regularly occupied by cars.

So couches, tables and chairs were added to the 50,000-square-foot area to accommodate any event or party, eight flat-screen TVs on the wall and an adjacent movie theater.

“It is a place for friends and family, the ladies and the kids that might not be interested in looking at cars the whole time that the dads are and the grandpas are,” Busch said. “It gives an extra added value for somebody coming in here. If they don’t want to look at cars, they can do something else.”

Gateway Classic Cars has recently hosted company parties, a birthday party, Boy Scout fundraiser, an auction and a wedding. The business also hosts sports collectibles shows in conjunction with Collector’s Corner, a sports memorabilia business in O’Fallon. Vendors selling sports collectibles set up tables for shows held in a space located behind the showroom that have included current and former St. Louis Cardinal baseball players and other athletes who have made appearances and signed autographs.

“Business is taking off,” Busch said. “It’s a unique space. It’s not four walls and a chandelier in a hotel. So it’s kind of fun. It gives depth and more to offer than just a cocktail hour and some decorations on a table for weddings. It gives a memory.”

The showroom is lined with sought-after collectible cars sold on consignment. Sarah Boothby, who works in public relations for the classic car venue, said she has seen cars from the 1920s and remembers when a 1919 model was in the showroom.

“It sold very quickly,” Boothby said.

She has also seen as many 30 cars sell in two weeks’ time. The showroom holds as many as 175 vehicles of an assortment of makes and models. These cars can sell for under $10,000 on up. She also said about 400 people visit the showroom a week.

“We take anything that is sports related, anything that will appeal to that certain buyer, a monster truck, anything that we can fit in here that we can find a home for that is pristine,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun to watch.”

Of course, those who attend the parties and events held at the showroom are more than welcome to walk around and look.

“It’s been great,” Busch said. “Everybody that has come in and tours the place is in awe. I always like the wow factor.”

“When you hear the words ‘Wow, this place is amazing’ when people walk in the door, it kind of gives you this sense of pride.”

You don’t have to be invited to an event at the showroom to visit the and look at the cars. Gateway Classic Cars is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Admission is $3.

Boothby said she enjoy working among classic cars.

“What I like about working here is everyone is an enthusiast,” she said. “We all have a passion for it.”

Busch said the staff at the O’Fallon showroom has expanded and the business has grown in popularity since moving to O’Fallon a year ago. The showroom initially opened in February 1999 on 5401 Collinsville Road in Fairmont City. Today, the business is headquartered in O’Fallon and eight additional showrooms have opened across the country in Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis, Louisville, Houston, Tampa, Orlando and Ft. Launderdale with plans to open a couple more showrooms soon.

“It’s grown a lot,” he said. “The quality of cars has increased since we’ve been here. It’s just given us a lot more visibility.”

Contact reporter Will Buss at wbuss@bnd.com or 618-239-2526.

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