Horse blinders are the key to navigating an antique mall

08/20/2013 12:00 AM

08/19/2013 10:55 AM

You think there’d be nothing to shopping at an antique mall. You wander around, reminisce about how life must’ve been so much better back when men hunted virgin forests and the womenfolk washed clothes in a stream, all while epidemics were wiping out entire forts and the Comanche were shooting flaming arrows at wagon trains.

As a collectibles hunter in that nostalgic state, you buy a few things you don’t need and head for the hacienda, which is already so packed with nostalgic brick-a-brac you could rent it as a Hollywood set.

But foraging for things vintage is most pleasurable if you don’t suffer from ADHD

and

HTFD (Have-to-Finish Disorder, the dirty secret of the OCD family), as I do. The malls are pocked with eye-catching displays — for example walls with 2,253 33-rpm records — that I can’t go near. How could I thumb through a few records if one I like happens to be No. 2,178?

If I succumbed to every curiosity at these places, I’d be there so long they’d hang a price tag on me and sell me as a fossil.

One of my favorite malls is Timeless Treasures in Claycomo, an acre of memories nestled in a scenic corner of a an upscale shopping center next near Dollar General, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and Mel’s Quik Cash and Payday Loans.

I don’t have updated figures, but at last count I’d bought six cowboy hats, nine Western belt buckles, an oak kitchen table, six antique radios, a record player and 13 Far Side coffee mugs at this Mecca of Memories.

With so much to grab my attention, this mall, and others like it, reminds me of an ADHD hiker who stumbles on the 33rd Annual Convention of the North American Squirrel Community. When his presence prompts them to scatter in every direction, how can he not go “

SQUIRREL! SQUIRREL! SQUIRREL!

” in a rotating fashion, much like an anti-aircraft gun at the Battle of Midway?

So for me, collectible hunting is part pleasure, part restraint. I never go to a mall without a strategy — what I’ll let myself look at — and the pair of heavy-duty horse blinders I bought a few years back.

I’m always looking for something, so browsing with a checklist works well for me. For example, I recently had the idea (some would say hare-brained) to use a vintage aluminum pail as a tip bucket for music. These pails go for anywhere from $7 to $10, which in collectible-mall-speak really means $6 to $9 once you say the magic words, “Will you take …?”

It turns out I didn’t need to bargain because the pail I bought was actually an old watering can that leaked and was just $3. It was outside this mall I frequent in Higginsville, which actually has two malls and a thrift shop with $1 bag days, all within a mile radius.

I’ve been known to go to Higginsville at lunch and return to work by breakfast the next day.

I’m also never at a shortage for creative ideas, some more practical than others. With the watering can/tip pail, for example, my idea was to hang it from an old camera tripod covered with Monopoly money so people would get the idea the can marked “TIPS” in Day-Glo orange/hot pink was no longer just for watering petunias.

I may not have what it takes to browse restriction-free like some other rainbow chasers, but I get by. With blinders on I know there won’t be any horsing around.

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