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Old stuff, new attitude

Yesterday’s Treasures strives to offer a new experience each visit

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Posted: Saturday, October 26, 2013 12:00 am

Fenton — Stacy Mielcarek doesn’t “pick” though estates, garages or yard sales to fill Yesterday’s Treasures, their family antique business. “I buy the whole estate,” she said.

 The tri-county area is not short on antique stores — they’re represented in Fenton, Linden and Holly, and according to Mielcarek, they’re not in competition.

 She even has a hand-drawn, photocopied map she made of the other Fenton consignment shops to effectively send customers on a shop tour if they can’t find what they want at her shop. She’ll send people out to Holly, and they’ll send customers to her.

 “This is a great town, people are so nice, people wave, people say ‘hello,’” she said.

 The process tends to start with an estate sale, at which Mielcarek will offer a flat amount for an entire estate, or for several antiques at once. She compares the fun factor of buying and preparing antiques to watching grass grow.

 The difficult part is sometimes buying from someone with an attachment to a particular item. She understands that, but “you can’t make money off sentiment,” she said, adding that she’ll suggest family hold onto items if they hold special meaning.

 She has learned to be able to price items through her years of experience. Though she has “1,000” pricing guides, eBay tends to offer real world prices.

 While Mielcarek handles web sales, displays and sales, she said her mother Susan Olson, has the tougher job getting items ready for sale.

 Yesterday’s Treasures specializes in antique costume jewelry and chandeliers, and to be clear, they do very little consignment — Mielcarek said everything under the roof of the store is owned by her mother, including the building. She also said there is four-times the jewelry all sorted by color at home, waiting for space to clear on her shelves and drawers.

 Prior to 1998, the building housed a lampshade store, coin collector and attorney. Most items in the shop can be worn, or used for eating. Believe it or not, antique stores are entering “chandelier season,” where they sell electric chandeliers as the days grow shorter.

 There are around 20 in the shop for varying prices, but of the two in the shop window, one was $595, and other more than $1,100. Before you cringe, consider that nothing enters the store dirty — every tiny piece of every chandelier must be cleaned by hand, often re-wired, and sometimes modified to be complete, in the chandelier “chop shop.”

 She said many sell before spending a day at the shop.

 Most sales are still right in the store, though they’ve always done online sales. EBay has given way to Pinterest and Facebook. An online marketplace has dropped prices somewhat, as customers can pretty much get antiques from anywhere, making them immune to regional shortages of any one item.

 This is in line with her sales philosophy anyways — to sell more items for a little less money. Her goal is that regular customers are treated to seeing new items whenever they enter the store.

 On Wednesday, Domini Zatroch of Hartland stopped in to buy a couple lamps in cash. One had been sitting on the counter, prominently displayed, and Mielcarek let her try a couple different glass shades.

 A man came in to ask about any WWII memorabilia, of which they have one item — a helmet.

 Though the wooden floors creak, and everything is old in the store, save for their digital security cameras and computer, the atmosphere is not stuffy, especially when Mielcarek can chat with customers, with her brand of unfiltered humor.

 Though Mielcarek enjoys the work, her eyes light up when talking about her favorite part of the business — helping teens outfit their gowns for school dances. “I think one of the best parts about my job is the kids,” she said. “It’s so much fun.” She also enjoys seeing these same kids all grown up, stopping in later on.

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