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Manteca concern lures serious antique hunters
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Karissa Bishop enjoys collecting antiques but is always careful to get the best bang for her buck.

That’s what she was doing Tuesday at Antique Avenue in Manteca, along with her two friends and her grandmother Debra Southern.

“I like antiques. If I see a good deal, I buy it,” Bishop said as she examined with a critical eye a vintage Coca-Cola cooler that was a staple at general stores decades ago.

After further serious browsing, it was Southern who finally found some treasures to bring home. One of them was an antique spaghetti poodle.

“I have a whole case of them,” she explained with the self-satisfied smile of someone who has found a treasure, holding up her porcelain poodle at the same time.

The women visiting were from Modesto, which confirms store owner Betty Nichols’ statement about Antique Avenue’s popularity in the valley. While similar stores have come and gone in places like Stockton and Modesto, Antique Avenue has continued to survive and even thrive in the 15 years it’s been in business in Manteca, Nichols pointed out.

Not only that. “We’re the biggest in San Joaquin County,” she said about the business that is located in the neighborhood commercial center on the corner of East Yosemite and Powers avenues. Antique Avenue and Manteca Lighting anchors the strip mall that includes the long-running Taqueria Yvette, Economy Signs, and other retail outfits in the three building complexes at this commercial site.

Asked how her business has managed to not only stay afloat but actually thrive especially in the rough economic times, Nichols said, “I think it’s because we have experienced dealers” who are very knowledgeable and bring quality items to the store.

Variety has also contributed to the popularity and longevity of Antique Avenue, Nichols said.

“It’s not just all glassware, like most of the (antique) malls. We even have a garden room here,” said the former Manteca Police Department employee of the latest addition to her store’s product features.

In the garden room are vintage wrought iron plant holders, different styles of old watering cans, the heavy water pumps of yonder years, and a host of garden gadgets from yesteryears.

“We also have dealers that specialize in advertising, jewelry, and country primitive,” Nichols pointed out.

One of the store’s dealers, Deb Mitchell, is one of the more than 50 dealers at Antique Avenue. She specializes in vintage sewing items. “She’s referred to as the button lady,” Nichols said with a laugh.

One of the newest dealers to join Antique Avenue is Janet Dyk. She was one of the dealers who are spearheading the parking lot sale taking place on Saturday, July 30, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in front of the store. Among the many antique and vintage collectables that will be available include furniture, linens, art, primitive tools, sewing items, tins, Pyrex, crystal, pottery, wrought iron, jewelry, China and a wide range of kitchen items, Dyk said.

For the duration of the parking lot sale, the store also will be open with many of the dealers offering special sales. One book dealer, for instance, is throwing in one free book of equal or less value for every two books purchased.

For more information about Antique Avenue and the parking lot sale this weekend, call (209) 239-7879.