Sloan Column: Who doesn’t like a good treasure hunt?
Remember playing pirate as a child, banding together with a crew of neighborhood kids to search for an imaginary chest filled with gold doubloons? Or maybe Saturday morning yard sale outings with your mom? I can remember a few lazy afternoons spent rummaging through the aisles and shelves at the local thrift store in hope of finding an unexpected gem.
There is something magical about venturing out on an epic quest to discover a rare object. Maybe that’s what draws viewers to the popular History Channel show, “American Pickers.” I’m not much on reality TV, but I do enjoy watching Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz travel America’s back roads in search of rare finds and valuable antiques. You never now what the pair will come across. Among the more unusual items the duo has come across are an original prototype for Yoda from the first Star Wars film; an actual elephant head, stuffed and mounted by a taxidermist; a horse-drawn Jell-o wagon from the early 1900s; a mint condition Lionel train set; a rare four-cylinder Ace motorcycle; and a vintage James Bond toy car.
The American Pickers crew has visited the Palmetto State many times during their decade of travels. I was working as an editor in Hartsville in 2013 when I found out they were planning to purchase a vintage bar back from the old Eli’s Southern Candy Kitchen on East Carolina Avenue. Still in pristine condition, the 12-foot long mahogany bar back dated back to when the store first opened in 1910. On either side of the bar back’s long mirror were lights covered by stained glass. Carved flowers decorated the bridge across the top of the mirror. It was a beautiful and not at all hard to see why they were enamored with the piece.
I called Antique Archaeology, Wolfe’s store in Le Claire, Ia., in hopes of speaking to the American picker. I ended up talking to a publicist instead. To my dismay, I found out the transaction would not make it on to the show. It still made for a neat little story.
If you don’t own a show-worthy collection, and that would include most of us, but feel inspired to do a little treasure hunting of your own, there are lots of places in the Pee Dee you can visit. A good place to start would be Thieves Market on Palmetto Street. It may not look like much from the outside, but appearances can be deceiving. Thieves is filled with rarities of all kinds, from antique furniture, jewelry, and signs, to dolls, books, and vinyl records. Expect to spend plenty of time when you visit.
Timm’s Attic on East Carolina Avenue in Hartsville is another great place to go hunting. On one visit to Timm’s I remember seeing the joy in a fellow shopper’s face when she came across a set of china with the same pattern her late mother owned.
Another neat place is The Sunshine Shoppe in Chesterfield. All money made by the store goes to the Hospice of Chesterfield County Foundation, which is reason enough to shop there, but every once in a while you can come across something that is a real find. Years ago I purchased a rollback desk at a surprisingly low price. It needed a little work, but it was a great find nevertheless.
In addition to brand new items, the Marion Emporium on Main Street in Marion offers numerous items from estate sales. Expect to find artwork, books, statues, linens, cookware, jewelry, toys and lots of other vintage items lining the emporium’s shelves.
And of course you can never go wrong visiting your local Habitat for Humanity ReStore, Salvation Army, or Goodwill. You’ll be helping others while possibly coming across your one-of-a-kind treasure.