SAN MARCOS — One man’s treasure is another man’s purchase. Twenty vendors hawked their collectible and antique wares while dozens of hopefuls brought in their memorabilia for appraisal at San Marcos’ annual Antique Fair held at the San Marcos Community Center on Feb. 7
“It’s pretty cool,” event staffer Karen Warner said. “A lot of interesting stuff comes through — you’ll see stuff and be like, where on earth did you find that?!”
“We’re looking for deals, looking for stuff, looking for a treasure,” Shelley Sprague said, perusing the crowded displays with her parents, Joan and Ed.
Attendance was light at first, owing partly to the rainy weather and partly to the sagging economy. Diane Barnett, a vendor, has changed her inventory to better appeal to a customer base with less disposable income.
“I look for things that are not just collectible but can be used,” she said. “Things you don’t just put on your shelf but have utility.”
Barnett said she loves selling antiques and doesn’t plan to let a recession stop her.
“I do this because it’s fun,” she said. “I get to meet people and sell the stuff that people might not actually go up to my booth to see … I love the history of (the items). Figuring out where they came from and what was going on at that time.”
Many of the vendors were professionals with stores or booths of their own. Others, like Greg and Sandy Berry, were informal dealers.
“Most of this stuff is just stuff that we had,” Greg Berry said. “It just comes out of the closets.”
“I keep thinking I’m going to run out of antiques and things we don’t want, but I keep opening boxes and finding more stuff of my parents,” Sandy Berry said.
The real attraction was the “Antique Roadshow”-style antique appraisal. Four professionals sat side by side behind a long table and examined a steady flow of crockery, texts and furniture.
“You see a broad crosss-ection of Americana,” appraiser Paul McConnell said. McConnell said he had attended so many shows that they all blurred into one big event. “Every now and then you get something really different … At every event we get something really wonderful.”
“It’s not always fun,” appraiser Jan Jacoy cautioned. “You can say I don’t know (how much an item is worth) and a person will accept that, but when it’s Grandpa’s oldest thing on Earth, and it’s just worth $3 … that’s sad for the person.”
One of the items that San Marcos resident Robert Staton brought to be appraised was both unique and unpriceable. It was preview biography of Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, the Charles Manson “family” member who tried to assassinate President Gerald Ford, complete with footnotes and doodles scrawled throughout by Fromme herself.
“I knew her before she knew Charlie,” he explained. “In fact, she was with me an hour before she met him.”
Sadly for Staton, the market for such a treasure is pretty small.
“It’s currently worth nothing,” he said. “I put it on eBay twice — for $300 and then for $30.” There were no bids.
The antique fair and appraisal room remained open until 4 p.m. Staff and attendees alike said they looked forward to attending next winter’s event.