Prisicilla Gonzalez and her mother, Lidia, look at an antique vase displayed by a vendor on Main State. CNJ staff photo:
By Marlena Hartz: CNJ STAFF WRITER
It is easy to miss the table entirely. An assortment of cups and saucers litter its top. Shelves full of dusty books and colorful knickknacks tower over it. Antique dealer Donna Rolan brushes her hand over the aged oak top. Its beauty doesn’t pass her by.
“Look at this table and tell me it doesn’t have character,” Rolan said, pointing to a series of deep scratches along the edge of the circular table, mounted atop carved lion’s feet. “I imagine six boys sitting around this table and banging on the side with their forks for dinner. A big old family that were hard working people.”
The table, and other antiques, speak to Rolan, she says. She often imagines the lives and the stories behind many of the objects that populate her Mitchell St. store, The Treasure Chest.
“You can’t just walk into this,” Rolan gestures widely to encompass a panorama of objects — Elvis memorabilia, Depression-era glass, Asian wicker furniture — “in a retail mall. The things there do not have the character, the story, the background that your antiques have. If this stuff could talk — it just gives me the chill bumps.”
In Clovis, there are eight antique shops. Stores like Rolan’s are in fact a common sight across the eastern New Mexico plains. Owners of the stores offer similar explanations — the stores are popular because residents are enchanted by memories of the past, and the idea of a “one-of-a-kind item.”
Eva Madrid Gomez, who also owns a second-hand store in Clovis, greets most of her customers with a hearty “make yourself at home.” On the weekends, she says shoppers come by the shop more frequently. Most meander slowly through her haphazard assembly of products, purchased at estate sales and obtained through castaway owners.
“A lot of people today are wanting to go back to their childhood,” said Gomez, standing beside what she says is the most popular collection in the store, a variety of small, antique Avon perfume bottles. “I find most people buy things that remind them of when they were younger. It is just fun to recollect the things of the past. But you never really know what people will want. I had a kid, about 30-years-old, who came in looking for a rhinoceros — anything with a rhinoceros on it.”
Gomez doesn’t attribute the growth of the antique industry in Clovis to hit shows like “The Antique Roadshow.” Rather, she points to a yearning for quality in a highly franchised world.
“Many antiques outlast things made today. And there is a higher quality in older things — a piece of art made today, 50 years down the road, will increase in value. One little girl came into my store and said, ‘this is my favorite store.’ I asked why and she said ‘because everything in here is one of a kind,” said Gomez, a two-year veteran of the industry.
For mother and daughter Lidia and Priscilla Gonzalez browsing through second-hand and antique shops is a weekend activity.
“I just hope to find a good bargain,” said Lidia Gonzalez. “And take a break from cleaning.”