By ADAM SCHRADER
Published in The Denton Record-Chronicle on July 6, 2014
SANGER — Barry Durham pulls up to Findings: A Little Bit of Everything in his white pickup to unload some new cargo for the shop he co-owns with his wife, Joanna.
She stands in the children’s section near the register reading some teaching material. He carries the items behind the counter where he’ll price them and figure out where to place each antique and trinket in the store.
Today’s load is light enough that he can carry the garage sale winnings into the store by himself since the shop door is already propped open.
“Antiques give people a sense of history,” Barry Durham said. “You can go back and tell some history about things, and [it] gives people a chance to express themselves with what they collect and what they want to make a collection out of.”
The Durhams’ store really does have a little bit of everything. Barry Durham said you could make a collection out of almost anything. One customer today, Chris Noble, recently started a collection of antique books on hunting and guns. The self-professed antique junkie from Fort Worth has been in the shop before and was stopping by to examine the book collection.
“I’m really not supposed to be here. I’m just traveling down [Interstate] 35 headed back to Fort Worth and thought I could sneak in here without being noticed,” Noble said with a laugh. “So I’ll just find an antique store, and if they have the things I like, I’ll come in and see if I can get something I need.”
Findings has joined a collection of eclectic boutique shops, restaurants and services packed into historical buildings on the square in downtown Sanger.
Durham doesn’t see any of the other businesses as competition but as an extension of what he does.
“One store is not enough draw for people to come to Sanger,” he said. “Five, six stores becomes a bigger draw and people make it a destination to come to Sanger and shop in antiques.”
Barry Durham is also the director of the Sanger Chamber of Commerce and treasurer of the Sanger Downtown Association, which he helped restart several months ago. He said the association has started planning events to draw people to downtown Sanger, starting with its first Trade Day on June 7.
The Durhams, who both grew up in Cooke County, previously owned an antiques and collectibles store in Whitney, where business had been booming but where they were far from their family. Some of their Whitney customers have made it to the Sanger store.
Since the Durhams moved their store and their lives in August, business has increased every month and Barry Durham said he expects it to keep growing.
“As we’re trying to establish a downtown Sanger and let people know all these businesses are here, it continues to grow,” he said. “We now have three restaurants downtown, which brings people in.”
The Durhams opened the Whitney store three years ago after discovering their knack for finding, selling and collecting items.
“It became more of a hobby, then it became a business as the hobby grew and we enjoyed finding things at sales and auctions,” Barry Durham said.
The store is their collection and everything they sell is something they like, he said. They find most of the merchandise at garage sales, estate sales and auctions, but always have their eyes open.
“Sometimes you’ll just find it sitting in someone’s house and ask them, or find it in a trash can,” Barry Durham said. “Friends and family bring things to you, [stuff] that they’re wanting to get rid of.”
Before working in antiques the Durhams were both teachers — Barry for 18 years and Joanna for 22.
“I miss my children, but I don’t miss teaching,” Joanna Durham said. “And I miss the planning, which is why I have my collection of kids’ books and teaching materials and kind of cater to home-school day cares.”
“I don’t miss it,” Barry Durham said.
Their store was the first to occupy the space at 210 Bolivar St. in more than five years.
Despite being vacant for years, the space was in good shape when they purchased it, since it had recently been repaired and upgraded. More aesthetic touches they did themselves with the same thrifty approach they use to fill the store with items, like using old barn wood for the counter.
“We just took what we had from our other store and moved it here, set up shop and just did the best we could,” Barry Durham said.
In addition to collectibles, Joanna maintains a large section where home-school parents can purchase teaching materials and books.
“We try to keep it where [if] someone else walks in, we might have it,” she said.