ORIGINALLY WRITTEN CYNTHIA MARTENS
After collecting antiques for the past 30 years and selling from booths in antique malls for 14 of those years, the timing seemed right to open an antique store of their own.
Peggy Wattson and husband Keith are co-owners of Cameo Rose Antiques in Peabody.
“This has been something we’ve thought about for many years,” Wattson said.
“I’ve been an entrepreneur already by doing the antique booths in the antique malls. But this is different in that I can present the merchandise the way I want it to be. I can specialize in things people are asking for and look for special items.”
Officially open May 22 at 102 N. Walnut, Cameo Rose Antiques is part of historic 1880s Main Street in Peabody.
“The antique store features unusual and unique antiques and collectibles,” Wattson said.
“I’ve been told I have a good eye for antiques and also for trying to find unusual items that people didn’t think they would ever find in this part of the country.”
For the past 26 years, the Wattsons have lived in a two-story Victorian home in Peabody and raised three daughters. The youngest, Cameo, will be entering the 10th grade in the fall.
Keith continues to work as a welder with AGCO in Hesston-a job he’s held for the past 30 years.
Two years ago, Wattson left her 13-year job as an accountant in the senior-services division of the Via Christi hospital group in Wichita. At that time, she and Keith bought the historic building on Walnut to store an accumulation of antiques and collectibles.
In addition to storing items for the booths in antique malls, Wattson needed a place to house collectible items she sold over the Internet on eBay.
“When I quit working, the idea was to continue with the antique malls, sell on eBay and potentially, at some point, we’ve always had a dream to start a small business.”
Her passion for collecting began when she was 12 years old and purchased salt and pepper shakers. The original collection has grown to about 300 sets.
“It must be in my blood,” Wattson said. “From there, my husband liked antiques, too. When we were first married, that’s how we furnished our home.”
As items sold in the antique malls, Wattson continued to search and replace her stock in the booths. She currently has four booths at the Flying Moose Antique Mall in Wichita.
“It just keeps on going,” she said with a chuckle.
“We’ve collected over a 30-year period, and a lot of our items have been purchased from Kansas-area estates that were sold at auction. That’s our biggest source because, in the antique business, you just can’t go to a wholesale market and buy 20 of the same thing.
When the couple originally purchased the 4,000-square-foot building, they transferred over many items from their storage units.
Next to the city park, the building was once home to a car dealership and showroom.
Historical records indicate the structure was built in 1907 by A. Piland and aptly named the Piland Building. From the mid 1920s to the 1950s, it was the Temple Motor Co., a Plymouth-Dodge dealership with cars brought through large garage doors into the front area of the store.
That front area now contains floor to ceiling display units containing a variety of antiques and collectibles. The remainder of the building is still storage, with plans to open more retail space in the future.
“Keith has been very helpful doing repairs and renovations of the building to this point,” Wattson said. “We’ve done some work on the building and hopefully, in the future, we can do some more.”
In the past, the Wattsons operate their antique-mall sales with the name Cameo’s Cupboard Antiques and Collectibles.
When first married 30 years ago, Keith bought his new bride an antique cameo brooch to wear on a necklace. For sentimental reasons, their third daughter was named Cameo, and their antique-business name evolved into Cameo Rose Antiques.
Her inventory is constantly changing, but visitors to the antique store might find treasures such as antique and collectible clocks, toys, dolls, glassware and furniture.
“I have a number of German antiques from the early 1900s-German horses including a child’s carved-wood horse pull toy and riding toy,” Wattson said.
“We won’t have a lot of furniture in the beginning until I expand. Right now, I have a small corner china cupboard that’s real neat and unusual, a very unusual reupholstered fainting couch and several sets of antique chairs.
“I like lamps, such as reverse-painting, kerosene and oil. We also have antique and vintage jewelry. And I try to find things a man will like, such as railroad collectibles, belt buckles and tools.”
Collectible hunters will discover advertising signs and artifacts, old books and other miscellaneous items, such as chickens, roosters, spice racks and banks.
“I like banks and buy quite a few collectible banks,” Wattson said.
When deciding on a price for an item, she said she takes into consideration what she paid for it, what she thinks she can sell it for and what is appropriate for her market draw in the area.
But before an item is priced to go out on the show room, it is cleaned and researched.
“I buy probably two to three reference books a month so I can learn about a particular item,” Wattson said. “I may pay more for the book than I’m going to get for the particular item, but I know about it then for the next time.”
She also uses e-Bay and other Internet sources for research data.
In addition to finding items at auctions, she will consider quality items and collections from private individuals.
“If they want to bring in something they want to sell from their estate or they want me to go to their home and look at a collection, I will,” Wattson said. “I tell them I pay fair prices when I buy.”
As a collector herself, Wattson said she understands others who are looking for items to add to their personal collections. She offers to keep on file a customer’s name, phone number and description of the item or items on their wish lists.
“People are passionate about what they collect,” Wattson said.
“So, they come in here, and they want that special thing. Because I get out and around looking for things, I’ll hopefully be able to find those special things for them.”
If they don’t find something at her store, Wattson said she encourages customers to try the other two antique stores in Peabdody.
“My opinion is, the more the better,” she said. “When I’m traveling and shopping and there’s a town of three or more antique stores, I want to use my time wisely, and I’ll go where there’s three.”
Wattson’s antique store is not only open to attract the antique and collectibles’ shopper, it’s a source for gift buyers.
“I think people need to be aware that an antique shop is a really, really good place to buy a gift for someone for holidays, birthdays and weddings,” she said.
“I have some nice linen things that would make great bridesmaids’ gifts. And people who collect certain things would rather have that than store-bought gifts.”
Experienced in shipping items, Wattson said she offers to mail items purchased by travelers-all a valuable part of customer service and people skills.
“I’ve had a lot of experience working with people in my previous job,” Wattson said.
Husband Keith gets credit from Wattson for supporting her love of antiques and encouraging her to open their business venture into treasures and one-of-a-kind items.
“He has been supportive throughout the last 14 years with my addiction to antiques, which will never end,” Wattson said.
“It’s not boring. You never know what you’re going to find next. Everything’s different. You may find something that you’ll only see in your lifetime.”
And in Wattson’s lifetime, she said she’s ready to greet customers who share her love of antiques and collectibles. “I’m just trying to run a nice antique shop with quality antiques and collectibles,” she said. “Come by, visit us, and help us enjoy our new business.”
(Regular business hours are 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, but the store is often open until 6 p.m. weekdays and on Sundays and Mondays. For more information, call 316-772-7437.)