As much as I like to adventure and spontaneity, I also like routines--like my Saturday morning routine, for instance:
- Wake up at a leisurely pace
- Take my dog running (he's a bloodhound and needs an insane amount of exercise, despite the fact that he likes to spend the rest of the day sleeping)
- Swing by the Farmer's Market
- Go grocery shopping
- Stop by Stardust Antiques on 11th Street to see what new things Bob and Yolanda have acquired
Bob and Yolanda got into the antique business back in 1984 when Bob's antique-dealing mom unexpectedly died and left the family her collection. At the time, Bob worked as a distributor for the Chronicle and then a special education teacher, and Yolanda worked at a bank. They named their business Mae's Antiques in honor of Bob's mom.
At that time, they set up shop in a barbershop on Houston Avenue. In the beginning, $15 of profit per week was considered a good week, and some days they sold nothing at all.
Fortunately, they didn't let their slow start stop them. In 1991, when a persistently leaky roof at the barbershop forced them to search for new property, they found the old Stardust Lounge on 11th Street for $50,000, which--as Yolanda says--was "a famous dive" back in the day.
Rumor has it that the former owner of the Stardust Lounge was killed by his second wife and step-daughter. When they went to prison, the property became available. To maintain the connection to its history and the neighborhood, Bob and Yolanda added the name Stardust Antiques to their sign.
Now, they open for ten hours a week (Saturday 11-5 and Sunday 1-5) and supply our neighborhood with an eclectic collection of items from the 1800s through the 1950s, with a specialization in Texas Primitives. Matt and I have furnished our 1930s bungalow with an old workmen's bench from the mid 1800s (for a mere $100), one of those giant pull-down maps from a classroom, a party-sized glass drink dispenser from Italy ($15), countless pieces of pottery, an old school desk ($35), and postcards.
Although Bob and Yolanda live in the Greenspoint area rather than The Heights, they have certainly built a community at 1129 E. 11th Street. They know many of their customers by name and have maintained connections with some of them for more than a decade. Yolanda says, "We're creating a neat little family."
They also barter with their neighbor, Dacapo's, to offer free cookies to customers on Saturdays. Yolanda maintains Dacapo's landscaping in return. Stardust Antique's customer-friendly policies extend beyond just the free cookies (and soft drinks). They also have an extremely lenient layaway policy, which entails an insignificant down payment, and an unlimited time frame to pay it off.
In terms of pricing, they usually aim to double the price, but if that's not reasonable, they "just try to make $10 off everything." On bigger, more expensive items, Yolanda says they might make $50. Their general policy is "slow and steady every weekend by keeping prices low." They accept cash or check.
Bob and Yolanda enjoy doing business in The Heights and especially appreciate people who are on the hunt for old things to furnish their old homes.
About The Heights, Bob says, "It's a nice, peaceful little neighborhood." Yolanda adds, "It's a picturesque place that personifies the word 'neighborhood.'"
I, for one, am extremely thankful we have down-home businesses that help make our neighborhood what it is.