Sharpsburg shop offers collectibles, glimpse into the past
Equal parts American Picker and Pawn Star, Sharpsburg native Ted Hazlett has brought his keen eye and more than a few treasures to a store along Main Street.
This n ‘nat opened to showcase some of Hazlett's finds, which include the odd, quirky and nostalgic items once tossed out for trash.
Looking for a Charles Lindberg keychain?
He has one, issued as a promotion from the Ohio-based Ball Chemical Company and now priced at $150.
In need of an etched whale bone ring? You can scoop it up for $300.
It's not all high-priced stash.
Shoppers can have a field day searching through Hazlett's pile of costume jewelry and toys, priced affordably, starting at $1.
For a little more, you can get a Dave Parker or Rennie Stennett bobble head.
“I started with my record collection, which I've had for 40 years,” said Hazlett, who admits his hobby turned to obsession and resulted in more than a half-million vinyl's.
“I've always liked to go out huntin' at flea markets to see what we find.”
Customers also bring their treasures to Hazlett, in hopes of making some quick cash themselves.
He's become a go-to guy on the Internet, making quick work of searching for a fair sales price.
“We search so hard for so many things,” he said. “You get to know what things are worth.”
A retired draftsman for Union Switch & Signal, Hazlett's passion for picking ramped up a few years back when he and his son started to dabble in buying foreclosed storage lockers.
“We started coming up with some nice pieces of jewelry and other stuff,” he said. “You never know what you're gonna find.”
It seems that's what draws shoppers to his store.
On any given day, there's a parade of people who tromp through the tightly-packed space in hopes of finding the missing link for their collections.
Tony Cotroneo spends so much time at the shop, he jokes he could be an employee.
“I love going to flea markets,” he said. “So much that I had to get a 10-by-10 storage unit to hold my stuff.”
Cotroneo and Hazlett have known each other since their days at Sharpsburg High School and recently reconnected in their pursuit of hidden treasures.
The pair “go junkin'” together, sometimes traveling out of state for estate sales and other auctions.
“It's the thrill of the hunt,” Cotroneo said.
The chase happens just about anywhere there's stuff for sale, he explained.
The pair regularly hit up Goodwill and St. Vincent de Paul in hopes of getting lucky.
“I bought a bag of watches for $5,” Hazlett said. “I found a gold Movado worth $200.”
If they strike it big, usually the items end up stocking Hazlett's store, like the Hop-along Cassidy lunch box he recently sold for $200, or the Japanese version of the Monopoly game that he's ready to list.
Though narrow, the aisles are crammed with thousands of items, some easily recognizable such as the bright red Campbell's thermometer or the blue Spode candy dishes.
Others take a little investigation.
Hazlett has a piece of history with his USO-sponsored voice recording that was sent during WWII.
“There's a soldier on here, singing hillbilly music to his wife, from his station,” Hazlett said. “This is somebody's family treasure from 1939.”
While most items he's eager to part with, one highlight hangs on the wall amongst the Neon signs, model airplanes and oversized clocks.
It's one that he said he won't sell: a silk and cloth logo of the International Order of Odd Fellows — of which Wyatt Earp is a founding member — from 1906. Hazlett estimates it's worth about $4,000.
“It's one of the neatest things I've ever found,” he said.
Hazlett admits his passion has outgrown the space in Sharpsburg. He plans to expand to a second store in Millvale this year.
“It started small. My wife just wanted her garage back,” he said. “Now it's something to pass on to my son.”
Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.