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Fantastic Collectibles goes from Internet to opening store in downtown Manteca
Richard Simas rearranges a wall of Department 56 houses at his Fantastic Collectible store in downtown Manteca. After operating on the internet for more than a decade Simas opened his doors just over two months ago and has been gaining a steady following. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL

It wasn’t that the Internet hadn’t been kind to Richard Simas.

Since the mid 1990s the collectible enthusiast had been using popular sites like eBay and to run a successful business that specialized in everything from Department 56 porcelain houses to Boy Scout patches.

But the packaging and the shipping and the constant checking to see if an item had sold had finally taken its toll.

Unwilling to give up a life that he had come to love, Simas did the next best thing – taking the plunge in a downtown Manteca storefront to open Fantastic Collectibles.

It took a while before customers began to catch on and realize everything that Simas’ store had to offer. But now that he’s been open for two months and word-of-mouth advertising is starting to spread, more and more people are walking through his door – something that thrills the dedicated businessman.

“It’s just something that I’ve been dabbling in for a while now,” Simas said – noting that he personally collects Thomas Kinkade houses and anything having to do with John Wayne. “We’re starting to see more people coming in. Word-of-mouth seems to be picking up, and that’s the best advertising that you can ask for.”

The shop itself offers a variety of new and used items ranging from sports cards and comic book action figures to highly-prized and collectible porcelain dolls and figurines.

Every day Simas says that he spends on average of six hours on the computer checking the value of items that are constantly fluctuating in a market that is driven by demand.

And keeping the shelves stocked with what people may want isn’t as easy as opening up a catalog and placing an order.

Estate sales account for the majority of the collectibles that Simas comes across. It  requires that he traverses the state from Madera to Rocklin to try and get his hands on that unique, hard-to-find item that somebody just can’t pass up.

Sometimes he’ll come home with an entire lot of pristine goods, and other times he’ll strike out.

But it’s the hunt, he says, that’s part of the fun.

“The hardest part is making sure that you don’t buy something that’s broken,” he said. “I found something earlier today that was broken and threw it out – it was a $25 piece but I won’t sell it because I don’t want somebody to come in and think that it’s a good item.

“It’s hard to pin point what is going to be the big sellers. Our used DVDs have been popular but so have Barbie dolls and die cast cars and Jim Shore collectibles and Department 56 houses. It’s hard to say.”

The store does offer consignment services, but because of limited shelf space asks that people only bring in three or four items and reserves the right to pass on those that they feel won’t be a good fit for the family-oriented atmosphere they’re promoting.

Just about anything, however, has the potential to be collectible. And to the right buyer there is no such thing as too much for that perfect piece.

“We try to make things affordable, but we have some items – like a Duncan Royale Santa – that can be up to $300,” he said. “It really depends what you’re looking for. And looking for it is part of the fun.”

Fantastic Collectibles is located at 162 W. Center Street, and is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The store will be staying open until 9 p.m. on Thursdays through December to cater to holiday shoppers.

On Black Friday the store will open at 7 a.m. and stay open until 9 p.m. and will be offering a 25 percent discount on everything inside of the store.

November specials include 15 percent off Precious Moments collectibles, 15 percent off Dept. 56 Christmas Houses and Figures and 20 percent off any decorative plate in stock.

For more information call (209) 647-4651 or visit