I like to shop, but I especially love shopping antique malls and flea markets. You know the phrase “I brake for rummage sales”? Well, I will do U-turn in the middle of a major highway to get to an antique store!
I spent the afternoon with my friend and antique dealer, Cheri Riehle at Antiques on Main, to learn about her business Treasures A-Z.
M. Your background is in Occupational Therapy. Where did your interest in antiques start?
C. When we bought our first house, we needed a pitch fork to do some yard work. I went to the neighborhood hardware store to purchase one. The price tag was $32! There was no way I was going to pay that much for a gardening tool. So I started going to estate sales, which lead to antique auctions. I spent so much time at the auctions, they offered me a job! I was hooked on antiques.
M. How did that turn into a business?
C. In those days, you often had to buy an entire table of items at auction. You might want only one thing, but you had to take the lot. Fortunately most tables went for as little as $1.00! I ended up with so much stuff; I decided to sell it at an antique store. Over the years, my business has grown to booths in 5 malls; I sell on E-bay and at the Elkhorn Flea Market every summer.
M. Do you specialize in anything in particular?
C. I sell a little of everything. Architectural items and painted furniture are very popular now.
M. What do you like most about being an antique dealer?
C. I love the thrill of the hunt. You never know what treasure you’ll find. I also like working with people, selling and buying. My OT skills come in very handy when dealing with people who are downsizing and having trouble letting go of their collections and memories.
M. What’s in your personal collection?
C. We collect musical instruments! They are displayed around our house in a way, that someone could pick one up and start playing.
M. That’s an unusual collection. How many do you have?
C. We have about 20; some are from our travels around the world. The biggest is a sousaphone!
M. What’s your best sale story?
C. I sold an old chambray work shirt from JC Penney. Never worn, still folded with the original price tag, probably from the 1920s. Sold it on E-Bay for $1300!
M. Did you ever find an old pitch fork?
C. Yes, paid $5.00 for it. In fact, I probably got 5 gardening tools for $32.00.