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From fresh produce to antiques & collectibles
Husband and wife Joseph and Sue Giulian are shown at Sue’s Country Barn on Wednesday. An oral surgeon, Joseph retired from his practice of about three decades in Manteca a year ago. Sue managed and operated her produce stand, Sue’s Country Barn for a similar length of time. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO
When Sue Giulian closed her popular produce stand in a rustic decades’-old barn just past the Highway 99 freeway on East Highway 120, many thought that was the end of it.

They thought wrong. The fresh apples, oranges, almonds, walnuts and an array of crisp vegetables that have made the rich San Joaquin Valley earn the nickname Bread Basket of the World may be nowhere in sight anymore. But the mirrored shelves where their rainbow of colors once drew local customers as well as motorists on their way to and from the Sierra foothills or Yosemite National Park and beyond have been replaced by another attraction – antiques and vintage collectibles.

In the last few years, Giulian started to welcome the public once again to her barn at least twice a year – in spring and fall – for another popular American past time: antiquing. When she started the antiques and collectibles sale some five years ago, Giulian was not sure if it would pan out. As it turned out, the popularity and wide success of such television programs as the PBS hit program “Antiques Roadshow” helped catapult the business metamorphosis of Sue’s Country Barn from a fresh produce stand to an antiques shopping destination. Many of Giulian’s faithful customers now red-mark these two dates of the year on their calendar, careful not to miss it.

The Country Barn’s fall treasure-hunt event kicks off tonight with an invitation-only champagne and hors d’oeuvres reception that starts at 6 p.m. The invitation is sent to the Barn’s regular customers to give them an opportunity to eyeball this year’s fall offerings. The evening marks the start of the roughly three-week period that the Barn will be open to the public everyday from 10 a.m. to 4 p .m. until Nov. 1.

 “The barn is full!” Giulian announced about two weeks ago. And indeed, the centerpiece of the Giulian’s farm which was once a homestead property of the Miller family, is packed to the gills with antique pieces of furniture, vintage radios of such brand names as Admiral and Arvin, paintings, books from the 18th century and perhaps even farther back, old Underwood manual typewriters that are so heavy you probably need to bring a small forklift to carry it to your car, sets of antique glass drawer pulls and glass curtain tiebacks, plenty of old paintings, and yes, vintage Halloween collectibles plus others too many to mention.

Giulian’s twice-yearly antiques sale event is another clear evidence that if you are passionate about something, you can always parlay that into a profession, career or livelihood that will make you feel as though you’ve never worked a day in your life. Giulian said she has always been an antique collector, one who is partial to the primitives stuff. Like many collectors thought, there comes a point in time when one’s home and storage sheds are filled to the gills and you feel a need to downsize the collection. Such was the case with Giulian.

She also likes the fact that she is not tied down to a job year-round and therefore has ample time to devote to her growing family especially her grandchildren. She is also fortunate to have a supportive and understanding husband who even joins her when she goes to estate sales in the Bay Area and other places. Her husband is longtime Manteca oral surgeon Joseph Giulian who retired from his practice last year after three decades. The two met while in college – he was in medical school, she was in the music arts.

Giulian though is no stranger to holding a regular job Monday to Friday, eight hours a day, aside from operating and managing her produce stand for three decades.

“For 10 years, I worked with my husband” at his dental office on West Yosemite Avenue in downtown Manteca just across from Tipton’s Stationery and Gifts, Giulian said.

She wore multiple hats in the office – as a dental assistant to her husband, office manager, and general gofer staff member.

Sue’s Country Barn is located at 12607 East Highway 120 just two miles east of Hwy 99. If you have any questions, call Sue Giulian at 607-6013.