Richard LaRose says he’s always interested in finding worth in old things as it has been a passion of his since he was a kid.
“My grandparents had three acres and four garages,” he said. “I was always dragging something home.”
He said it was this spirit of finding treasure that led him to open Uncle Meanies Antique shop in Norton. He said it really dawned on him in the 1970s, when he bought a vanity mirror for his wife.
“I bought this vanity for 10 bucks,” he said. “I sold it for $400 later. It had to be from the 1920s, with the pineapple ends on it. It was just a really nice piece.”
LaRose said he first opened the shop in 1992, though he said he’s been a collector all his life, in contrast to his father.
“My father was a neat nut,” he said. “Everything had a place, and if you didn’t use something in two years, you threw it away.”
LaRose said he had a trucking company at the time, with four car carriers and a wrecker.
“I had enough and sold the trucks,” he said. “I had four employees, and all their problems so I decided to go on my own. We bought this barn in 92, I was living in miles and commuting 50 miles a day, so we just decided to build a house next door.”
He added his travel time has been cut down considerably.
“It really cut down on the commute,” he said with a laugh.
LaRose said the barn itself even dated back to the 1860s and was of a wood peg construction, meaning everything was fitted with wood and no metal nails were used in its construction.
“It was a horse barn when I bought the place,” he said. “We spent nine months; we jacked the barn in the air and put foundations down. This barn will be here a lot longer than I will.”
The barn is filled with unique and sometimes familiar pieces, like bear cookie jars and candle pyramids from Germany or carousal cars from county fairs long past, and of course the obligatory hand-crank turntable.
“Everything you could think of” might not be the most accurate way of describing his inventory, but it comes close.
He said the oldest piece he has comes from the 1800s. It’s what is called a sample piece for a mining company. The piece is a small mining cart, about the size of a stroller, used to sell the actual carts to mining operations.
The Uncle Meanies Antique Store is located at 134 East Main St. and is open on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.