Spotlight on Van Alstyne – Wolfe Pack Trading
Walking through the store, you can almost feel each item trying to share its story with you. There's a mixture of old and new, vintage, retro and antique and each piece is perfectly unique. We spent some time with Julie, talking to her about her love of antiques and how she and her husband, Dean ended up with their store full of treasures and their online auction business.
I don’t think I’ve ever come in here and actually taken the time to look around, you’ve got a lot of cool stuff in here! How did you get started?
“I’ve done it all my life! My parents were always into antiques. My dad had an antique store and was part owner of an auction house, so, it all just fell into place. We started almost three years ago. We kinda had an opportunity. My husband was needing a change in life from the corporate world, so we took a leap of faith, and we opened our first shop in Anna. I’ve always been an antiques collector; even as a kid I had antique furniture in my room. We lived in an old house. When we went on vacation, it revolved around where the antique shop were that we wanted to stop at. People say it’s in their blood. Thank sounds kind of corny but it’s definitely in my blood. So, that’s how we got started. We just started collecting stuff and set up our shop in Anna. Dean went to Auctioneer School, so we were able to work that into the mix, and it ended up being a major part of our business. We have an auction house in Tom Bean, a pretty big warehouse that we run live and online auctions out of. This shop is a supplement to that. It started as an antique shop, and grew from there. The retail space is the fun part!”
What constitutes an Antique?
“The item must be at least 100 years old to be considered a true antique. Most everything I have in here is considered ‘Vintage’ or ‘Retro’. I have a few things in here that are true antiques, but not many.”
You mentioned you started in Anna. How did you end up here in Van Alstyne?
“Our lease was up in Anna and business was not as good as we had hoped for. The traffic was not as good there. I talked to Shannon (Morgan) across the street, and saw that this space was available. This space definitely lends itself to an antique shop. We came in, looked at it, fell in love with it, and thought ‘Well, let’s give it a whirl!’ We did it for a year in Anna, let’s see what we can do in Van Alstyne. We’ll have been in this space two years in December.”
You have such a variety of items! Where do you find them? How do you come about getting all your items for your store?
“Everything here in the store is ours, well, except for the gas pump, it’s on consignment. Some of the items are new that we buy from market. We have a deal with that, too. We have a couple of people down there that we know. When they need to liquidate quickly, they know they can call us and we can be down there and clean out their showroom in a day or day and a half. The old stuff, we buy a lot at auction. Most of the stuff in our auction is through consigners, so we bid on it and buy it from our consigners like you would from us. We then put it here in the store to resell."
We’ve seen you post store items for sale, and have seen you post that ‘The Auction is Open’. What does that mean?
“The auction items, which are in the backroom, are mostly consignment. People bring us their items, we label them, photograph them, put them on our website and at auction time everyone has an opportunity to bid on them. Everything in the front part of the shop is retail, and everything in the back room is auction items. We leave the items up from three days to a week, and then let everyone know when the auction is closing. The auction is real time a lot at a time. You are bidding against other people right up until close. We call it ‘Competitive Shopping!’”
How many people do you have working for you?
“Between here and Tom Bean, including Dean and myself, we have four employees. Both locations are full time. Dean is either at the warehouse, or out picking up items for auction that the consigners are not able to get to the warehouse. If we pick items up, we charge a higher commission fee on the sale.”
Who would you say is your target client?
“Everybody! As far as the retail shop, we focus on new homeowners that are looking for special items for their new home. Younger people are starting to get back into antiques. That kind of ebbs and flows. The old industrial farmhouse is real popular with some of the younger couples. We do a lot of gifts. At Christmas we do a get a lot of home goods, and ornaments and Christmas decor. With the auction, people don’t realize that, in a recent auction we sold household appliances, you can get a refrigerator that’s like new for a pretty good price. You can get some nice furniture that is like new. When you go on the website, you do have to flip through the full catalog to see everything. Interestingly, most all the items up for auction have no reserve price with bidding starting at $1, unless specifically requested by the consigner.”
Do you have any plans to expand or grow the business?
“We just don’t know, at the moment. We’d love to sell more cars and even real estate. Bigger things are more fun to sell! Property sales are exciting!”
What do you love about Van Alstyne?
“There’s more traffic here than we had in Anna. There is definitely more of a downtown area here, and it’s definitely growing. I like the small town feel and I love a downtown area. I like learning what these buildings used to be. A lot of shop owners will research the history of what their shops used to be. I’ve been told that even before this was the hardware store, this building was a movie theater and a skating rink. It’s neat to think about how many people have been in and out of this location”.
What would you like people to know about your business?
“Even though the signs say ‘Antiques’, know that we have all varieties of items. We have new stuff, and gently used stuff. We have a lot of items for guys too! That’s something that sometimes people miss. We have good old oilcans, and some beer steins, and comfy chairs that guys might like. We have a variety of items here in the store that make great gifts or home décor. And of course, be sure to check out the website, which hosts all our online auctions: www.wolfepackauctions.com”
If you are looking to add a beautiful antique piece to your home or needing a cool retro gift for a friend, be sure to stop by Wolfe Pack Trading – and don’t forget to check out their online auction to score those hidden gems!
Wolfe Pack Trading – Julie & Dean Wolfe
212 E. Marshall, Van Alstyne, TX 75495