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Elsberry is full of history. It is filled with structures and items that seem to have been lost in time. However, stores such as Waggoner’s Riverroad Antiques and Roe’s Country Store have made it their mission to uncover these items and find them new proper homes.
Antiques are defined as an old collectable item that is desired because of it’s beauty, rarity, condition, utility, personal emotional connection and/or other unique features. According to Joe Brockman, co-owner of Waggoner’s Riverroad Antiques located at 956 Highway B, antiques are objects that represent a different era or time period in history and typically show some degree of craftsmanship.
“The great thing about antiques are the stories they can share,” Brockman said. “Each piece holds a differ
ent memory, whether it be something from a person’s childhood or simply a need to wonder where an item has been and what it has seen over the years.”
For an item to be classified as an antique it must be approximately 100-years-old, according to Rometa Tomlinson, owner of Roe’s Country Store located at 322 Broadway St. However, Brockman said some antiques could be as young as 50-years-old.
“There is a difference between what some call antiques and vintage,” Brockman said. “It is possible to have a vintage record or even a vintage 1930’s couch, even if it falls under the description of antique.”
Brockman says the difference between what some call antiques and others call vintage is truly nothing more that the perceived relevance of the item. One example he gave was how an early 1880 horse-drawn carriage would be considered an antique because it is the remnants of a bygone era. However, a restored 1969 Chevelle would be considered vintage because it is evocative of a specific era and is still sought out by a large number of collectors today.
A common trend between Antique Dealers and even Pickers is their fascination with old items. Tomlinson said for her collecting and selling old items has always been an infatuation.
“It is always a great feeling when you find something that takes you back to your youth or reminds you of a loved one,” Tomlinson said. “Even more so is the wonder of what people used to use it for, how it was made and the attention to detail that old craftsmen put into their work.”
According to Tomlinson, people just don’t build things like they used to. She recalled a piece of furniture she bought a few years back and how it was made with particleboard and plastic coating.
“In the old days everything was made to last, that why you can find furniture from the 1800s’ still in fairly good condition,” Tomlinson said. “Now your lucky if you can hold onto a coffee table or night stand for more than five-six years.”
Brockman said he agrees, according to him there is something about finding the small flaws and little knicks in items that make them unique.
“It would take a man his entire life to learn about every little thing,” Brockman said. “Most antique dealers and pickers specialize in one particular item and use references for the rest.”
Waggoner said he specializes in glass items such as old crystal bowls and hand made vases.
“There has been a few times where we have picked up an item that to anyone else seemed worthless because it had cracks or looked trashy,” Waggoner said. “Funny as it is, I have seen these same items people see as garbage be worth thousands.”
Although antique dealing is a small trade, one that takes an enthusiast of sorts, Brockman said it could be one of the most fulfilling careers in the world.
“Essentially you are keeping history alive,” Brockman said. “When people bring items in or when we go to an estate sale or on the rare occasion we go on a pick, we are looking for pieces that hold a certain uniqueness, almost a piece of art, because antique items and even vintage items have a certain look or certain signature of creativity from the craftsmen of an earlier time.”
Although Waggoner’s and Roe’s specialize in antique and vintage items, they said it is not always what T.V. says it is.
“When you specialize in a particular area of work you limit your cliental,” Brockman said. “We are no stranger to hard times and the economy definitely didn’t skip us.”
Because of economic times Brockman said they have begun selling retail furniture and even produce in the spring and summer to help with the bills. Tomlinson said she could go two weeks without seeing a single person. However, she said there are times when she doesn’t get a chance to sit down.
“The trend of antiques is touch and go,” Tomlinson said. “It’s not like it used to be, when the economy was good and people would splurge for old relics. Now it is sporadic.”
Just like the items they find and sell, Antique dealers and pickers all have their own unique stories. They are a group of people that specialize in history and thrive off the past. They must know the pieces they sell and balance that line of personal worth verse retail worth.
“We love what we do,” Brockman said. “Knowing that you are surrounded by history and by items that were used to help forge this land is something that I would never, could never turn away from.”