Vendors see new faces, demand for smaller items at Treasure Hunt
By Cynthia Scheer Telescope News
Fewer buyers turned out for last week’s Treasure Hunt. Vendors said people who have been coming for years didn’t stop this year, and many of the shoppers were new. There were far fewer people traveling with trailers, vendors said, which meant shoppers were looking to buy smaller items.
“No large furniture was going this year,” said Paul Kallman, who is the owner of PK Collections in Belleville and is also the vice president of the U.S. 36 Highway Association. “People were looking for small stuff they could put in their cars. They didn’t bring their big trailers this year. I sold lots of glassware.”
Kallman said he had lots of new shoppers this year, and they came in steady waves throughout the event.
“We never had a rush, but there wasn’t much down time,” he said.
Jane Ann Carlgren, who owns the Scandia Antique Mall and organized the vendors who set up in downtown Scandia, said she had just as many if not more vendors. She agreed that the buyers were steady throughout the event, which allowed her to talk with customers, including a couple that has stopped in Scandia all 11 years of the Treasure Hunt.
“I could actually talk to people and find out where they’re from,” she said. “They said we are friendly here. Maybe we didn’t have as many buyers this year, but they were all lovely people.”
Ray Shura, who owns Americas Best Value Inn in Belleville, said he noticed fewer treasure hunters staying overnight in Belleville. “Usually all three nights are booked,” he said of shoppers staying Thursday, Friday and Saturday night. “This is a bad year. On Thursday I had 13 rooms left, on Friday I had two rooms, and on Saturday night I had 20 left. It’s a big hurt to our business. There were 7-to-8 normal customers who come every year who didn’t come this year.”
Carlgren said she hasn’t finished the book work from the event yet, but she thought her sales were the same as or better than last year despite fewer people.
Kallman said customers remarked on the prices vendors set for the Treasure Hunt, saying items were priced reasonably and better than Nebraska’s Junk Jaunt.
Kallman and Carlgren said they had customers from Tennessee, Utah, Colorado, Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Wisconsin, Arizona, New Jersey, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Nebraska, and Southwest Kansas.
Kallman, who lives in Scandia, said a storm swept through Scandia about 11:30 on Thursday night of the Treasure Hunt. He said he watched out his window as tablecloths, pop-up tent awnings and tin ware from vendors blew down the street.
“We’ve had rain before,” Carlgren said. “But someone said we had 60 mile-an-hour winds with this. People’s tents were broken.”
Kallman, who had 15 vendors set up around his business in Belleville, said he has a pile of their broken tents out back. Carlgren said one Scandia vendor had significant damage, including much of her glass collectibles shattered and her collectible toys covered in mud.
“I pulled up and I just started to cry,” Carlgren said of the mess. “I went up and down the street picking up her stuff. It was very heart wrenching”.
Read the HWY 36 Guide Book below or visit the US HWY 36 website www.ushwy36.com for more information on the annual event.