First came the beer. Then came the cats. Now comes the junk.
Harry Slone is opening a new business called Harry's Collection at 1501 E. Fifth St. in St. Anne's Hill, very close to Fifth Street Brewpub and the Gem City Catfé.
The brew pub opened in 2013 and the catfé opened earlier this year.
Slone likes to say that he’s in the junk business. But he’s kidding. Sort of.
Slone’s late wife, Ruth, amassed a large amount of vintage and interesting items during her life. Slone is taking those items from storage and putting them up for sale.
Slone calls it junk but acknowledges it’s not the kind of stuff found on the dollar rack at Goodwill.
He’s got vintage and rewired lamps, chandeliers and other lighting. He sells sculptures, repurposed wood items, wall hangings and art that go for as much as $1,000. But also, he’s got some “schlock.”
“It’s a junk store — there’s some really good stuff, there’s stuff that’s absolute crap, and a lot of stuff in the middle,” he said.
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Slone, 79, said he can’t play golf all the time so he needs something to do with his time.
Harry’s Collection will be part hobby and a part-time job.
The store will have limited hours, likely in the afternoon, Wednesdays to Saturdays or Sundays, allowing Slone to spend his mornings on the greens.
Slone already has hosted booths at local antique shows and markets.
He had some space in the Treasure Barn at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds, which closed so the property can be redeveloped.
He said the junk business is a pretty tight community. Slone said he looks forward to meeting new people and interacting with customers.
Some of his items sell for $25 to $75 and between $100 to $200. Harry’s Collection will not have a dollar table.
Slone said he may open for business next week. If he does, there will be no ribbon cutting and little fanfare.
“Right now, I may turn on the open sign in the window and see what happens,” he said. “It will be the softest of soft openings.”
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Slone, who says he was once a "serial entrepreneur," is renting the space from a friend, Gearld Strickland, who used to make guitars in the building.
The building for years operated as a costume shop by members of the Shaner family. William Shaner performed as the “Amazing Shaner.”
What’s pretty amazing, said Slone, is St. Anne Hill’s transformation.
During the early 2000s, when the housing market was pretty strong, there wasn’t a house for sale in St. Anne’s Hill that sold for more than $100,000, Slone said.
But the last home Slone sold in the district two years ago went for $148,000. A home on Henry Street sold for $154,000 in February.
Housing prices in St. Anne’s Hill increased 9 percent between 2014 and 2017, according to the Montgomery County Auditor.
Slone credits Fifth Street Brewpub with bringing people into the district and exposing them to its historic charm. Some of those visitors later chose to relocate to the neigborhood.
The brew pub opened in 2013 and has become a destination. Another destination, the Gem City Catfé, opened earlier this year.
More redevelopment is in store. An entrepreneur is working to bring a bakery and coffee house called St. Anne the Tart to a historic building a stone's throw to Harry's Collection.
Over the years, the district has lost some businesses, such as the New York Pizzeria Restaurant at 1430 E. Fifth St., which closed in 2015 after about six years in operation.
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