Sales at Historic Hanna's Town celebrating four decades

| Thursday, May 30, 2013, 12:40 p.m.

For four decades, collectors have been finding out something new about old things when shopping at the Antiques & Collectibles Sales at Historic Hanna's Town in Hempfield Township.

The sales are held every second Sunday from May through September and start at 7:30 a.m.

Hosted by the Westmoreland County Historical Society, which operates Historic Hanna's Town, the outdoor market is celebrating its 40th shopping and selling season this year.

More than 100 vendors have tables offering collectibles on market days, according to Lisa Hays, executive director of the historical society.

“There's quite a variety, and some of the vendors are very knowledgeable,” Hays said.

The next sale is June 9, which Hays said, tends to be one of the busiest Sundays of the season.

Historic Hanna's Town is at 809 Forbes Trail Road, between routes 819 and 119. It is about 5 miles south of Route 22 or 3 miles north of Greensburg.

Shoppers can park on site, and admission is $3 per car. Parking proceeds benefit the historical society and the Forbes Road Volunteer Fire Department.

Arlene Kendra and her husband, Bob, of Greensburg helped start the event in September 1974 after taking many trips to outdoor flea and antiques markets that were popular at that time in Lancaster County. They thought it was something that could happen locally and were instrumental in working with the historical society to organize and promote the event. And it quickly became popular, Arlene Kendra said.

“It just grew and grew, and in about three years, we were getting well over 300 dealers,” she said.

Attending every sale for the past four decades, Arlene Kendra and her husband are avid collectors, and, sometimes, vendors, if they feel the need or want to sell some of their treasures.

“Everybody begins as a buyer, and everyone ends up a seller,” she said.

The option to do both this season still is available, Hays said. Either way, it's a great opportunity, as shoppers can find items there ranging in price from $2 to hundreds of dollars at what's considered the first consistent outdoor market of its kind in western Pennsylvania, Hays said.

The market is set in a large outdoor area at Hanna's Historic Town, a reconstructed site depicting a Revolutionary War-era settlement, Hays said. The original was burnt down by Native Americans and their British allies at that time.

Hays said shoppers can find high-quality and unique antiques, much more than can be found at an everyday flea market or garage sale.

People who want to rent a sales table but do not reserve ahead of time can just show up and pay $35 for the weekend.

Vendors are allowed to come out as early as 11:30 a.m. Saturday but must be ready to sell by 7:30 a.m. Sunday, Hays said.

Proceeds from vendor fees go toward the historical society's preservation and interpretation efforts at Historic Hanna's Town.

Those who want to come shop on Saturday are welcome, but Sunday is “by far the busier day” for both shoppers and sellers, Hays said.

One of the returning vendors is John Mickinak, owner of Ligonier Antique Gallery.

He said outdoor shows such as this one aren't as popular as they were years ago, as many people flock to easy-to-visit indoor antiques malls. Or they choose the Internet for buying and selling. However, there's nothing like handling an item and talking with the vendor to haggle over prices, Mickinak said.

The market at Historic Hanna's Town can be a great place for people who want to buy things to sell on the Internet, said Mickinak, of Greensburg.

A collector who favors antique artwork and furniture made in early western Pennsylvania, Mickinak said he'll have items from his selection at the sale this year. And even if it's raining, it's still worth the trip, Mickinak said.

Rae Heintzelman, a committed shopper who has made coming to the market a tradition for 25 years, she said she enjoys the variety.

“You can find all kinds of stuff there,” said Heintzelman, 49, of Ligonier, who also owns an antique store in Ligonier called Graham's Antique Mall.

She said she enjoys buying jewelry, furniture or anything else that catches her eye.

“You could buy something for 50 cents there, or you could buy something for $5,000,” said Heintzelman, adding the layout is pretty large and provides for “good cardio” if someone walks the whole site a few times.

She said she likes to go very early Sunday.

Arlene Kendra agreed that early Sunday is the best time for serious shoppers.

People who want unique treasures have to get there first, she said.

“Everybody (usually) has one of everything. So you have to go early to get that one thing,” she said. “The early bird gets the worm.”

Kendra, who assists with publicity for the event, said despite the popularity of Internet sales and air-conditioned “malls,” the Historic Hanna's Town sales still draw a big crowd.

Kendra has collected just about everything, but currently she has been drawn to unique cameos because of their size and artistry.

Popular collectibles have changed over the years, but, she said, pottery from western Pennsylvania, such as brands Hamilton and Jones or New Geneva, seem to hold their value and interest.

Any item eventually can become antique or collectible, she said: “The world goes on, so things becomes collectibles all the time.”

Natalie Beneviat is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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