One of Ottawa’s biggest downtown cheerleaders is back in business.

Mark and Debbie Cation reopened a downtown business this month after taking a hiatus that spanned a couple of years.

Papa’s Antiques, 129 S. Main St., is similar to their former store, Papa’s Attic.

“We had the other two stores for about five years,” Mark said. “Things were going well. The stores were open and taking care of themselves. We were meeting lots of really cool people.”

Mark’s hobby was collecting unique items from sales and auctions, but their house was too small. Finally, Debbie issued an ultimatum.

“Either you have to stop going to auctions, or you have to unload some of this,” Debbie said. “You have always talked about having a little shop.”

“We came up with Papa’s Attic the first time around, and now we are Papa’s Antiques,” Mark said.

His first stint as a business owner came to an abrupt halt because of health reasons. Mark fell and had knee replacement surgery.

“So we closed our shop,” Mark said. “That was hard. The last two years, I have been recuperating and rehabbing.”

But closing the store left a big void in their lives.

“He always felt a little bit cheated,” Debbie said. “He could not come to work the last couple of months we were open. That was rough.”

But once his health returned, Mark got the itch to try again.

“We had a chance to put a booth in here with Main Street,” Mark said. “There were 18 different vendors [in Concepts]. We took the lease over. We are back.”

A few vendors, which were in the Concepts store, remained with the Cations. Those include Anita Pierce Art Studio, Kelly Pinet Pottery, Grandpa Barry’s Guitars and Ottawa Main Street Association kept an office.

“We are a big advocate for the arts,” Mark said. “We have some fine people in here.”

Mark said getting back in business has revitalized his life.

“[Debbie] knew she needed to get me out of the house because I was going stir-crazy at home,” Mark said. “I am happy again. We do this together. It is a joint venture.”

The new store is similar to Papa’s Attic — just a little smaller.

“We are smaller scale than we were,” Mark said. “This really fits perfectly for right now. We are glad we are here. We still offer a lot of the same things, plus we are friendly. We have all these antiques. We try to get unique items. Signs are always good. Albums always sell.”

Other items the Cations regularly carry are old movie posters, antique furniture, collectibles, tools, license plates and a childhood staple: ‘Hot Wheels.’

“I always want to have things for kids to be involved in my store,” Mark said. “We always sell Hot Wheels. Little kids (who) remembered me have came in and bought some Hot Wheels.”

The Cations said it’s the visitors who make owning a downtown business worthwhile.

“We love people,” Mark said. “We had people in from 42 states, all over Kansas and surrounding states [with Papa’s Attic].”

The Cations said there have been more than 600 visitors since reopening the business on July 5.

“I love getting to know these people,” Mark said. “It is the people that come in (who) make my day.”

The Cations love giving their customers a little extra.

“I direct people to the other stores,” Mark said. “I never look at [the others] as competition. I want them to enjoy Ottawa, Kan. I might have something the other stores don’t have, or they might have something I don’t have. The more stores, the bigger draw, and more people come to Ottawa. Shop Main Street. Shop small and shop often.”

Mark said downtown Ottawa is a neat place to spend time walking around.

“I love the old architecture,” he said. “There are a lot of cool buildings downtown. We are starting to fill them up again. Downtown Ottawa is vibrant. A lot of people come here. It is a good place to make an investment because you will be successful if you are willing to put in the time, sweat, effort and be friendly. I love Ottawa and downtown.”

“We are excited to be back.”