ORIGINALLY WRITTEN CYNTHIA MARTENS
Marion can now boast of a third antique store-a definite plus for residents and visitors hoping to discover more unique treasures from the past.
The new antique store is Country Sentiments owned by Nadine Iseli and located in a former service station along West Main.
“They’re not competition, they help each other by sending customers,” Iseli said about the abundance of antique stores in the city.
“It’s not that one store has better merchandise than another. If people are out looking for something specific, like a piece of furniture or a collector’s item, they have a much better feeling if you’re willing to help them find it. And they’re more likely to come back and see you again.”
Iseli speaks from 13 years of experience in the antique business. In 1991, she lived in Sedgwick and commuted to a job in Wichita. That daily commute took her through the community of Kechi and past a little shop with a for rent sign displayed.
With the encouragement of husband Delmar, she quit working for others and began working for herself.
“I’ve always had a love of antiques and decided that was what I wanted to try,” Iseli said about opening her first Country Sentiments antique shop.
“So I leased the shop the next week and started moving into it. I didn’t even have enough things to fill it. But within a short time, I had the shop full, and I was on my way.”
Country Sentiments was part of of a complex of Kechi shops called The Boardwalk.
About three years after opening her store, she purchased The Boardwalk complex. She and Delmar also owned a home next to the complex, but two years ago they purchased a home at Marion County Lake and Park as a weekend retreat.
In March, the Iselis sold their Kechi home and made a permanent move to their county-lake home. At that same time, Iseli sold the complex and leased back her shop space from the new owners.
“But I was tired of commuting back and forth, and I decided that I wanted to move my business up here,” she said about officially closing her shop Sept. 1 and preparing to open her new shop in Marion in October.
In her current space measuring about 15 by 20 feet, she displays a variety of antiques.
Her inventory includes glassware, home-decorating items, furniture, nostalgic collector’s items, custom-designed wreaths, silk and dried-floral arrangements, old prints and her specialty-Depression Glass.
Depression Glass is machine-pressed glass manufactured during the 1930s at an affordable price. The colors produced were red, blue, pink, green, amber and clear.
“It’s colorful,” Iseli said. “The pinks and greens are the primary colors, but pink is probably the most popular. It’s not inexpensive now, because it’s collectible.”
In addition to offering a selection of Depression Glass, Iseli will custom-design wreaths to fit holidays or home decor, sell items she hand paints, such as colorful bird houses, and arrange silk and dried flowers for table tops.
After remodeling for about two weeks-a project that included wall paper, paint and new carpeting-she prepared to open one-day only for the Sept. 18 Art in the Park fair in Marion.
“It was wonderful,” Iseli said about the fair day. “It was a lot of fun, and we had a lot of people come through. People from Marion have been very friendly.”
Committed to helping the new owners of her former Kechi shop until Sept. 28, Iseli made plans to wait to permanently open in October from 10 a.m to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.
With her antique store in full swing, Iseli said she will begin scouting auctions and estate sales for more items to replenish stock. She is also open to purchasing items from individuals.
“If I had a bigger space, I would take consignments from people,” Iseli said.
“And if I’m able to enlarge my shop, I’ll do that, too. If people have wonderful collections of Depression Glass, I can do (consignment) right now. But furniture will have to be later. I charge 25 percent commission for consignments.”
Spending about 12 hours a week looking for more items for her store, Iseli will usually travel around Kansas and even out of state on Mondays.
“For auctions, I’ll go on Saturdays when my husband’s here to watch the shop,” she said. “Or I’ll find somebody to come in and watch the shop so we could go together.”
If customers are looking for a particular item, Iseli said she keeps a card file and will watch for the items when she’s out on buying trips.
Her passion for antiques can be traced back to her youth.
“I love older things,” Iseli said. “They take me back to a period of my childhood when I spent time with my grandparents.”
Iseli grew up in Abilene and visited her grandparents, Charles and Anna Stillwagon, in rural Dickinson County.
A slow day might find Iseli at the desk in her shop while working on decorative painting. If it’s a warm day, she might be found staining a piece of furniture outside by the former service-station island along Main Street.
Delmar, a dispatcher for Metro Express Trucking Company in Wichita, builds benches, bird houses and refinishes furniture to display in his wife’s shop.
“If we buy pieces that need refinish or repair work, he’ll do that,” Iseli said.
Her business philosophy is to be open and forthright with customers.
“That’s always been my feeling about business,” Iseli said. “You treat customers the way you would want to be treated-with courtesy and respect and to always be honest.”
Owning a store in a small town is more than opening a door for customers. For Iseli, it’s becoming a vital and active part of the area.
“I just want to enjoy being in Marion, being a good addition to the community and a good addition to the business community,” she said. “My husband and I love Marion County Lake, and we love being in this part of Kansas.”
For more information about Country Sentiments, call Iseli at 316-619-9299.