From behind the counter of a store filled with antique home decor and vintage trinkets, Jennifer Solverson sat watching a VHS tape on a black and white television screen Monday.
Classic rock tunes floated in the background as Solverson, 35, waited for customers as “quirky” as she is to drop into Rusty Rose Antiques.
“I’ve got a quirky personality, but I find that a lot of people who are into antiques have similar personalities,” she said.
Solverson, a Kelso resident, opened her buy, sell and trade antique store in the Three Rivers Mall in August. It’s stocked with vinyl records, typewriters, 1900s-era furniture, film cameras and other relics.
She said her affinity for antiques took root in childhood, when her grandmother would take her along on antiquing trip to stores and garage sales. Later, in her early 20s, Solverson used vintage decor to furnish her apartment.
“People would come over and say it was like a grandma’s house.”
About a year ago, Solverson started selling select items out of a consignment booth at Tammy’s Treasures in Longview (1248 Commerce Ave.)
“I really enjoyed it, so I decided to try my hand at my own shop,” Solverson said.
Around the same time, Solverson said she was fired from her job as a card dealer at the Lucky 21 casino in Woodland following a car accident, she said. She enrolled in online courses at Lower Columbia College to pursue a degree in criminal justice.
Opening a full-fledged antique store is helping support that endeavor, she said. Oftentimes Solverson can be found doing homework at the front counter of the shop.
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She intends to keep Rusty Rose open even after she finishes her degree, she said. (She’s currently halfway through the program.) She wants to use the shop as an example for her two children that, with hard work, they can balance many life goals, she said.
Running the shop is “really, actually fun,” Solverson said. Selecting what to stock allows her to explore her own vintage interests, she said.
Customers’ comments can sway her stocking decisions, though. She didn’t originally plan to sell clothing, but shoppers kept asking if she’d consider selling clothes. So she started a small rack.
“At first I wanted it to be just the best of things, the things I liked the most,” Solverson said. “But it turns out that the more that’s on the shelves, the more people look.”
For most of the items in the store, Solverson can share a historical fact or tidbit. A 1979 Guyatone tube amplifier is beloved for its tones but no longer produced by the company. Some of the early 1900s dinnerware is made of uranium glass, which glows green under a black light.
She said sharing history about the objects adds value for customers.
“I’ve realized if I see that I’m able to share a very passionate history about it, it helps with the sale,” she said.
Rusty Rose usually gets new merchandise two times a week, Solverson said. She likes to keep a revolving inventory so shoppers keep coming back.
Solverson still sells merchandise at Tammy’s Treasures, and she also reaches buyers online using eBay, she said. But the Rusty Rose shop is likely her favorite because “I keep the things I enjoy most in here.”
“When I see people happy about the things I enjoy, when I see them like it too … it feels good to have that positive encouragement and reinforcement.”