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Old is new again

Thrift shops, antique stores waiting for fantastic finds

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Old is new again

Alluring Treasurers, 506 N. Union Road next to the train tracks, is among the thrift and antique stores in the Manteca area.

ROSE ALBANO RISSO/209 file photo

POSTED June 16, 2012 3:15 a.m.

Nurses are doing it. Administrative managers are doing it. Even a former chief of police is doing it. In fact, it’s a modern-day phenomenon that’s kicking up a storm.

What are we talking about?

Thrift- and antique-store shopping.

Old is new again. Recycling is in. But this popular hobby or past-time, if you want to call it, is not only about being green as far as the earth’s renewable resources are concerned.

The fashion-conscious, the sentimental soul yearning for anything from their mother’s or grandmother’s time, the budget-conscious especially in these challenging economic times, the person with the creative eye who could turn a piece of worn-out wood from a long-gone home from half a century or a century ago and maybe more into something chic in a modern dwelling, the fashionista with an eye and yen for dressing up by simply giving a slight twist to vintage costume jewelry, the creatively resourceful decorator who can whip up a piece of framed art work or a glittering conversation piece on a coffee table, or the traditional individual who loves to collect things from grandma’s cupboards – enamelware, candleholder, dinnerware, and bakeware – all of which can be born again into, say, a flower vase or an organizer for stationery pads, pencils, push pins, clips and such. They have all collectively turned shopping at antique stores, even thrift stores as the “in” thing to do.

Perhaps this phenomenon, which includes turning junk or trash into treasure – as the old saying goes, “what is trash for one person is treasure for another” – has been influenced by  the popularity of such television shows as PBS’ “Antiques Roadshow” and others that came after it. And then again, it could have been the other way around, with program producers trying to cash in on a trend that’s already sweeping the country by storm.

There was a time in Manteca when the only thrift stores around were The Salvation Army and Goodwill. The success of Goodwill was such that it outgrew its long-time location in the building that is now a Mexican store called La Altena in downtown Manteca and is now on more modern and larger quarters in the busy Marketplace shopping center on West Yosemite Avenue and Union Road. Those two stores are both fund-raisers for the two non-profit organizations.

Mixed in with these two thrift stores but little less known is the Nearly New Store owned and operated by the Women of St. Paul’s United Methodist. It was organized by Leoma Negley and her church group back in the 1960s. The late Antone Raymus, publisher of the now-defunct Manteca News, let one of the units next to the newspaper building be used by the women’s group to operate their ongoing fund-raiser. The store is run by an all-volunteer staff from the church. One of the best things about this thrift store is that everything is cleaned by the volunteers before they are carefully arranged on the shelves, or hung on the clothes racks on the floor. The prices also are very reasonable. The store is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and sometimes on Saturdays. It is closed Monday and Tuesday so the volunteers can come in and sort all the donated items, clean them up – including ironing some of the clothing and linens – and then put a price tag on all the items.

Today, in Manteca and in practically every other town around, other thrift stores including for-profit ones have sprouted. In Manteca, a non-profit outfit that has joined The Salvation Army and Goodwill is the Hope Chest whose proceeds are used to fund the charitable work of the non-profit Hospice Community. Hope Chest, which opened about two years ago, is located in the former New Deal Market on Moffat Boulevard and South Main Street. It shares the building with the Kelly-Moore Paints store.

Hope Chest Thrift Store, 208 South Main Street, is open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 pm.., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday from 10 am. to 4 p.m. Susan Schink who is one of the people working at the store said 100 percent of the sales goes to Community Hospice, Inc., a non-profit program based in Modesto. The store’s telephone number is (209) 824-5638. Or you can find out more about what the organization does to the community, or to find all addresses of its six Hope Chest thrift stores in the valley, at

Alluring Treasures, 606 N. Union Road in Manteca is easy to find. It’s right on the south side of the Union Pacific Railroad tracks in the small neighborhood shopping center that includes a convenience store. In fact, it’s right next to it. A church is on the other side. If you are familiar with Merrill Gardens Independent Living on North Union Road, it’s easy for you to find Alluring Treasures. It’s on the same side of the road just past the Cherry Lane apartment complex. The thrift store offers a wide range of collectible vintage items including old videogames, as well as current ones, plus custom jewelry, books, clothing plus many more. Since it opened a few years ago, the store has quickly grown, so much so that about two years ago, they had to expand by acquiring the other business area next door when it became vacant. They also accept consignments.

One of the latest for-profit stores of this type to open in the area is the Aman Gifts and Consignment at 1140 M. Main St. next to Mountain Mike’s Pizza in the Save Mart shopping center, formerly Lucky’s with Long’s Drug Store next to it.

For antiques shopping, below are just three destinations in the area, two of which are on permanent locations in Manteca with one of them opening a branch in Tracy, and one that has developed quite a following because of its unusual barn ambiance:

• Antique Avenue – Located on the northeast corner of East Yosemite Avenue and Powers Avenue, adjacent to Manteca Lighting. Both businesses are in the same building.

Variety is the key here. Antique Avenue is like a co-op store, or an antique mall under one roof, if you will, with each vendor’s space carrying items that are unique from what the others are offering. Garden statuaries and other gardening-related items can be found in the back section of the store. Old and collectable carpenter’s tools, linens that include vintage bark cloths and table cloths, art works, vintage books such as the very collectible Dick and Jane reading materials for young children, old kitchen gadgets that still have plenty of useful life left in them or to be used for other aesthetic purposes.

There are three that come to mind which I consider my best finds at Antique Avenue. The first one is a pair of books published in the 1700s. I think they are the oldest ones in my collection. Being a bibliophile on a small scale, of course, I always make a beeline to the booths that have books on display. My next best find is an oil painting set consisting of two small framed watercolors depicting Napa Valley scenes, and a small “book” or album – however you want to call it. It is completely hand-made. The album is a collection of watercolors that the artist painted when she took a cruise somewhere in the Bamahas. What she did is the equivalent of today’s traveler taking digital photographic highlights of her trip and then putting them together in book form complete with written sketches.

But this one is from just after World War II, if my memory doesn’t fail me, or maybe before that. And although the camera was already in existence at that time, she opted to exercise her artistic expertise to create what I consider to be an art gem. She also had some handwritten inscriptions accompanying the scenes depicted in her watercolors, which tell the story of her travel. One of the pictures shows several women ascending the ship’s staircase, each one holding a lighted candle. The handwritten inscription explains that the ship lost power at one point in the evening and the women are using the candles on candleholders to light their way.

The vendor happened to know the artist, a woman from San Francisco who achieved quite a bit of fame and was a member of an art guild. The other framed paintings were also by the same artist. The vendor even had a flyer containing information about the artist, plus a picture of her.

• AAA Antiques & Fine Jewelry, 122 West Yosemite Ave., in downtown Manteca.

This store was a fixture in Manteca for decades. It was the former Allen’s Jewelry. AAA Antiques used to be located in the building next to the railroad tracks on the north side of West Yosemite Avenue. The store still carries fine jewelry albeit of the vintage and antique kind. The rest of its inventory includes every kind of antique imaginable, from dinnerware and ephemera to decorative stuff for the home. The antique and vintage furniture that was formerly displayed with the rest of the items at the store’s former location are now contained in AAA Antiques branch store located at 47 W. 10th Street in Tracy

• Sue’s Country Barn, 12607 E. Hwy 120 just two miles east of Highway 99.

The barn comes to life at least three or four times a year when it stages its spring and fall sale with one or two extras sandwiched between the two main events. That’s when “the barn is loaded with fabulous finds,” which sometimes include things that came from Europe. This location used to be Sue’s Country Barn which was a popular stop-over for motorists on their way to and from vacation and sight-seeing destinations in the foothills, Yosemite National Park or the Sierra and beyond. Watch out for their ads in the Manteca Bulletin for their next antiques and collectible sale.

209 staff reporter

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