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Antiquing where everybody knows your name

Brenda Evenson says the inanimate objects in her store talk to her. Well, not audibly, of course, but that they all say something.

“We sell memories,” said Evenson, who owns Black Diamond Antiques, which opened Dec. 20 and had its ribbon cutting ceremony May 8. “It’s like they talk… It would be nice to know what they’ve been through.”

After 20 years in the antiquing business, the love for collecting stories and history runs through Evenson’s blood. After running shops in Enumclaw and Buckley, she moved into the 2,500 square foot behemoth in Black Diamond, just a few steps from the Railroad Museum on Railroad Avenue. Evenson said the store has been busy since the doors opened.

“I think the area needed something like this,” Evenson said. “It gives them a place to sell stuff.”

Evenson said she has about 25 consignors, from the area and other cities, as well as about 40 people who have individual pieces shown at the store. Evenson receives 10 percent of sales on the consignors items and 25 percent on the individual pieces.

Evenson said she was drawn to the gargantuan space and the friendliness of the neighborhood. Beyond being an antique shop, she considers it a community gathering spot where the coffee is always brewing. One customer told Evenson that, “It’s like cheers without the beer.”

She moved from a roughly 1,800 square foot space.

“I was kinda nervous if I was going to fill it, but it didn’t take long,” she said.

Evenson’s passion began when she found something that reminded her of her grandmother.

“Then you’re hooked looking for memories,” she said.

Charm is the mystery of what might be inside, but Evenson said the most popular items are related to old tools, fishing supplies, pottery, depression glass and Pendleton wool. No matter what, though, vintage is king. There are original penny candy jars, a gnarly chandelier, retro coffee tins, original 1958 Schwinn bicycles and a well-used eight-tap beer tower.

When asked how much merchandise is in the store Evenson’s fiancé Don Barton just laughs.

“Thousands,” he said. “How many thousands? I’m not sure.”

Barton said customers have walked the store for upwards of an hour searching through the items that range from antiques and collectables to the downright weird. There’s a whale’s baleen plate, rusted mole/coyote traps, a sheep’s head under glass and a B52 bomber hoist, which is selling for $75.

“There is something in here for everybody,” said Jan Schneider, a friend of Evenson’s and regular of the shop who has her own consignment corner. “I buy a lot of stuff here.”

Evensen doesn’t know where it all comes from. She is a collector, herself, of yellow ware, old tin, country primitive and McCoy pottery. What happens when any of those items are brought in?

“I immediately drool,” she said. “But you can’t have it all. You have to leave some for the customers.”

Even stuff Evenson doesn’t mean to amass seems to find its way to her store, such as her newfound menagerie of donated alligators.

“We were not really collecting alligators,” she said. “One thing goes on the wall and they keep coming in.”

 

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