Fall is a sort of unofficial antiquing season. As summer wanes, yard sales and flea markets become fewer and farther between, and people head indoors to satisfy their collecting and bargain-hunting urges.
One of the joys of secondhand shopping anywhere is the chance to see—and maybe purchase—pieces of regional history. (Academics have written about antique stores as sources to aid in writing local histories.)
At Tahoe, road construction on Elks Club Drive cut short this year’s season of the popular South Lake Tahoe Flea Market, which normally runs through the month of September. Of course, last year, the first snowfall at the lake came on Sept. 21—and temperatures this year are already getting nippy. But regardless of the weather, there are still opportunities for antiquing and bargain-hunting in Tahoe’s towns, north and south. A careful eye—or a conversation with a shop owner—can reveal pieces of local history for sale.
In King’s Beach, Julie Whitney Wainscoat runs Brockway Art and Culinary Antiques with her husband, John. The gallery and shop is located in what was Brockway Bakery, originally opened in 1948 and first run by John’s parents and then by he and Julie until his recent retirement from baking. According to Wainscoat, the building itself is actually a bit older than the bakery and, interestingly enough, was moved to Lake Tahoe.
“The building was actually moved here from Camp Beale, which is now Beale Air Force Base,” Wainscoat said during a recent interview.
Julie Wainscoat is a painter and photographer—a graduate from the fine arts program at the University of Nevada, Reno. Much of her work features boats from the famous Lake Tahoe Concours, but the shop is full of photos—framed and on cards—of historical buildings and locales Wainscoat has photographed during her 45 years in Tahoe.
In addition to her artwork, Wainscoat stocks the store with antiques, including many from the old bakery. She’s also happy to point out regionally specific pieces that come through, including old skis, decoys and even sports memorabilia.
“I have these hockey sticks,” she said. “They’re from … the 1960 Olympics.” The sticks have accompanying documentation that explains their significance. One set comes with newspaper clippings and other documents to show it belonged to Jozef Golonka, a member of Czechoslovakia’s 1960s Olympic hockey team.
On the opposite side of the lake from Wainscoat’s King’s Beach gallery, Martin Mendoza—co-owner of South Lake’s Lakeview Thrift Store—also usually has sports memorabilia for sale, though his is often not regionally significant. On a recent visit, he had autographed memorabilia from the Oakland (for now) Raiders. Celebrity-related goods in general are something he said he and his business partner enjoy buying through estate sales and selling in the shop.
“You know Pat Buttram—Mr. Haney on Green Acres?” he asked during a recent interview at his shop. “We have some of his stuff—some of his clothes.”
Lakeview Thrift Store also ends up with pieces of regional history, though. Mendoza and his business partner keep the shop stocked with vintage clothes, knick knacks and the like they purchase at yard sales and estate sales. Recent finds on the store’s shelves have included things like vintage ‘60s tin cup coffee mugs from the TV show Bonanza and old sleds from the ‘40s and ‘50s.