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raveling the countryside of Holmes County comes with many benefits -- beautiful landscapes, friendly people, and unique shopping experiences. Since the area is a popular tourist destination, local residents have found great opportunities to turn their passions into business ventures. One local resident who did exactly that is Constance Burkey. After 38 years in the manufacturing industry, Constance was able to retire and open C&C Treasure Seekers in December 2014.
"Antiquing has been a true hobby and passion of Constance's for over 10 years now," said her son, Jeff Burkey. Jeff assists his mother with managing the accounting end of the business. Other than that, Jeff said "she is a one-lady show."
"My mom and dad always had antiques," said Constance. "They would sell them from our home for a little extra money." She admits her and husband got into collecting items too, but chose to hang on to their treasures at first.
"Our old house was always full of antiques," she said. The couple decided it made sense to open a store front as they were running out of room to store items in their home.
Since opening C&C Treasure Seekers, Constance enjoys adding new inventory to the store weekly by attending auctions, expos and dealers for merchandise. "We have a picker in Tennessee that we meet up with and see what new items he has for us," said Constance. "I also travel to estate sales, tag sales and auctions."
Some of Constance's favorite vintage finds include 1900s tricycles, train whistles, and retro kitchen items from the '40s and '50s. "We want to be different - not just another flea market or antique store in the area," she said. "We specialize in unique and unusual items."
A sampling of the current inventory consists of Fenton lamps, vintage coffee grinders, a hobby horse, outdoor lanterns, vintage gas station pumps, Millersburg Glass, military trunk, primitives, shabby chic décor, and a Coke machine gun case.
Constance said, when they first opened, they had a large Big Boy statue out front. People would stop just to take pictures with the iconic statue and one man even placed his dog on top of the hamburger for a memorable photo. C&C has since sold the statue but hopes to get another one in before long.
Another unique find is an old, coin-operated pony ride like the ones that used to sit outside of grocery stores for the children to ride. To prove it's functionality, a young girl comes running in from the store next door just to ride it.
Since the opening, Jeff has noticed antique lamps, milk glass, and gas and oil memorabilia to be some of the best selling items.
Constance's husband, Ray, owner of a small used car dealership in New Philadelphia since 1978 (R.B. Motors), began collecting and refurbishing gas and oil signs and gas pumps years ago.
"He is 73 years old and still works six days a week," said Constance.
Ray refinishes all of the vintage gas pumps you will find at C&C Treasure Seekers himself, which usually takes around six weeks per pump. Besides the gas pumps for sale at the store, Ray and Constance have a personal collection of more than 50 vintage pumps at their home.
Ray also restores antique pedal cars and tractors. Every inch of their garage and shed's storage space is utilized to store their massive collection of unique finds and restoration projects.
Being located in one of the top tourists destinations in the world, it is no surprise that many travelers are not touring the countryside in their pickups or hauling a large trailer behind them if they are not planning to buy something. Constance often hears her customers ogling over some of the larger items saying, "if I wasn't so far from home...," or "if I had my truck with me…"
"We do offer a 'layaway' service," said Constance, who said she once had a traveler from West Virginia who purchased a bedroom suite but was unable to transport it home at the time. The Burkeys offered that he set his purchase aside and in two weeks time he came back to pick it up in his truck.
Some people come into antique shops with an item in mind and may be disappointed if they are unable to find it. "We take people's name and numbers down if they are looking for something in particular," said Constance.
Constance has a true passion for antiques and vintage collectables, and is grateful to be spending her retirement doing what she enjoys. "Not all our items are antique. Some of it is just old and unusual," she said. "People like the unusual stuff."
At that moment, a customer passing through the shop told Constance, "you have some great stuff here," and smile of gratitude passed over her face as she thanked the customer for "stopping in today!"
C&C Treasure Seekers is at 3169 State Route 39, Millersburg. Hours of operation are, Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. For more information call 330-893-1333 or find them on facebook.