Regional Round Up: ‘Circus capital’ also offers antiques


Quality beats trends

Lars Ostrom, owner of Bargain John’s antique store in Lexington doesn’t believe in trends in the antique market. “We don’t buy things because they are a trend, we buy them because of what they are,” he said. Bargain John’s offers a wide variety of American antiques from the 1840s through the 1930s including pottery, glassware, toys, dolls and furniture.

“We deal in nice quality. It doesn’t matter if it’s a piece of art glass or furniture; there’s always a demand for quality pieces,” said Ostrom.

Bargain John’s opened in 1968 and was passed down over the years from John Ostrom to his son Lars. “We’ve been in the same location doing the same thing for 41 years,” said Lars Ostrom. Lexington, population 10,011, was a stop along the Pony Express in the mid-1800s.


There’s no place like … Scotland?

In August of 2000 Sue McRae-Bickle traveled with her father and sisters to Scotland to attended a family reunion of colossal measures: the Clan Macrae millennium gather, with more than 400 people. Macraes from Scotland, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the United States gathered to learn about their ancestors and visit, many for the first time, their roots in Scotland.

McRae-Bickle was so moved by her experience, she returned home to Hays and opened a Scottish antique and gift shop, Northglen Antiques.

With Celtic music playing softly in the background, guests can browse through Scottish art, antique furniture, old books, wardrobes, china and clocks. Collectibles include Celtic music and jewelry as well as Scottish food such as tea, coffee, shortbread and, of course, haggis-in-a-can. “It is quite good, sometimes a little spicy,” said McRae-Bickle of the sausage-like haggis made of sheep organs and spices. McRae-Bickle travels back to Scotland regularly to attend auctions and replenish her Scottish pieces.

Lately, she reports books — especially old medical books — to be extremely popular. The newest edition to her shop is a lower level with several antique dealers selling various non-Scottish items such as fishing lures, pottery and glassware furniture. 


Fall into antique fashion

The Garden Barn, located in a renovated post-and-beam barn built in 1886, changes its look with the seasons. “Right now we have a lot of fall décor,” said owner Carol Hansen who intermingles items like preserved fall leaves with her antiques. Specializing in home and garden décor, the 13-year-old Indianola shop is full of primitive furniture, brown crockery, old photographs and wooden bowls. “You can see some different trends lately, [it’s] a little more eclectic than things used to be,” said Hansen.


Get more of what you want

Everything old is new again at Catfish River Arts & Antiques in Stoughton. “We don’t carry new furniture, but we consider ourselves a home furnishing store,” said part-owner Rich Sneider. Sneider, along with owner Steve Nashold, spent three years renovating a 1,200-square-foot, 1898 department store complete with rotted roof trusses and sagging floors, into a historically-accurate business.

Winner of a Dane country historic preservation award, the building is now full of antique furniture, lighting and vintage sporting goods. “We are probably the nicest antique store in the Midwest,” said Sneider. One thing not antique in their store is the music, “We don’t play oldies. We play music that people actually like to listen to, from Louis Armstrong to something contemporary,” said Sneider.

The shop specializes in Arts & Crafts and Mid-Century Modern antiques.


Furniture remains unchanged by economy

Although Michigan has been hit hard by the recent recession, business is good in the greater Traverse City area. “This year has been very good,” said owner of Rolling Hills Antiques, Glen Lundin.

Located in a renovated dairy barn, Rolling Hills Antiques is known for having quality furniture and all accessories to go with it.

“What really keeps me in business is furniture,” said Lundin who offers personal delivery within 6 hours of his shop. Fabrics, rugs, throws, pillows, lights and “everything small and unique” are also big sellers according to Lundin. The husband and wife team also offer restoration and appraisals services. 


Postcards and bar stools

“People look for newer things than they use to,” said Evelyn Gibson, owner Rug Beater antique shop in Knoxville. “Primitives are down because people don’t know what they are for!” she said with a laugh.

Gibson has been in business and keeping up with antique trends for over 30 years. The most significant change in the antique world, according to Gibson, is the Internet. She reports that smaller items, such as ephemera and Barbie dolls, are popular because of their ability to be sold online and shipped inexpensively. Her tip is to look for paper things such as postcards at yard sales and sell them online. “Paper things sell really well on the Internet,” said Gibson “Funeral pictures with a corpse in a costume … people are crazy about those!” Rug Beater specializes in antique quilts, toys and collectibles. “Collectibles sell better than antiques unless you have a really rare one,” said Gibson.

Mike Callahan, owner of Callahan Antiques in Chillicothe, has been around antiques his entire life. His parents Mel and Jim Callahan owned antique stores across the Midwest, and it was only natural for Mike Callahan to open his own store. Callahan Antiques specializes in back bars and saloon items of all kinds, and also offers glassware, kitchen collectibles, vintage linens, prints and jewelry. “We put new stuff on the floor everyday,” said Callahan.


A circus of savings

Warm and cozy are two of the best words to describe The Farris Wheel Antiques and Collectibles in Peru. Owner Diane Dabbs opened the main street antiques shop in October of 2008 and says, “Business is excellent!”

Besides having a wide selection of antiques and collectibles, “Our prices are outstanding. We price things so people can actually buy things,” said Dabbs. The shop has 12 different ‘themed’ rooms with items such as antique furniture, glassware and primitives.

“I’ve been in antiques for 20 years. It’s something I love,” said Dabbs. Peru is known as the circus capital of the world. The city, population 12,994, was the winter headquarters for several famous circuses including Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey, Wallace and others. Peru is also home to The International Circus Hall of Fame.

The regional section is a great way to show off your shop, show, group mall or online antiques business. If you are willing to snap a few pictures and send them to our offices, we are willing to publish them for our readers. If you have an antiques shop or related business that you would like spotlighted in Antique Trader, contact editor Eric Bradley at, or send your information and photos to Or you may send your comments or photos to Antique Trader, 700 E State St., Iola, WI 54945.