Finding Treasure at Hanford Antique Emporium
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Preserving PastimesApril 2016
Story by Jordan Venema
Photos by Tamara Orth
THE SUCCESS OR FAILURE of reality television might very well be the ultimate litmus test for the interests of the average American. If true, then the longevity of shows like Pawn Stars, Storage Wars, American Pickers, and Antiques Roadshow suggest people are really fascinated with finding that diamond in the rough.
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and from the woodpile in a backwoods barn to the clothes rack in a thrift store, or from the old milk crate packed with record albums to the neighbor’s driveway during a Saturday morning yard sale, there’s no shortage of buried treasures out there. With all that ground to cover, however, the hunt can sometimes be tedious.
Thankfully, Linda and Frank Hall brought together under one roof all those hand-me-down, thrown-out-then-recycled, forgotten-and-rediscovered antiques and treasures.
In 1992, the Halls opened Hanford Antique Emporium, an antique mall with vendors dealing one-of-a-kind antiques, each a lesson in history. Even the Emporium’s building is from the pages of a history book.
The two-story building was built in 1905 by the Odd Fellows, “a men’s fraternal association similar to the Masons,” explains Linda. “They didn’t have TV or things like that.”
According to Linda, ground floor storefronts supported the organization, which had a ballroom in the back for Odd Fellows dances. The upstairs rooms were used for ceremonies, “and there are a lot of closets,” Linda adds, for storing their costumes for their events.
When the Halls purchased the building in 1991, they weren’t just preserving one of Hanford’s unique buildings, but also one of its pastimes. “There were several antique malls in Hanford at the time,” says Linda, and many people traveled to Hanford not just for its antiques, but also for its furniture stores.
Now, Hanford Antique Emporium is the largest mall of its kind in the area.
The Halls themselves were new to Hanford when they bought the property in the early ‘90s. “We’ve done a lot of things,” says Linda, “but we’re avid antique shoppers and we knew what we wanted to do with the building when we bought it.”
Antiquing was such a hobby for the Halls that they furnished their house with antiques they’d purchased over the years. In fact, they initially stocked the Emporium with some of their personal antiques, while other items came from auctions, thrift stores and even other shops.
When the Halls opened the store, they only began with three rooms in the building, but they’ve since expanded into the entire downstairs area. “Right now I think we have 10 other dealers,” says Linda, each with their own unique collections.
Among those dealers, shoppers will find at the Emporium anything from vintage clothing to furniture, knick-knacks and miscellany, and even yard supplies from the Emporium Gardens. Local artist LaFaun Bales offers three-hour oil painting classes for just $10.
That’s 8,000 square feet of antiques and vintage items, “a huge collection of this and that which you’re not going to find elsewhere,” says Linda – certainly not a big-box store.
“Our store,” she continues, “is a little more personal.”
“It’s the ultimate recycle,” Linda explains. Plus, “you’re getting better quality.” Most items one buys new today won’t be here 60, 70, 80 years from now, she says. But an antique will, because in most cases it’s already been here that long.
Personally, Linda knows it’s sometimes hard to let things go – especially the Victorian pieces, “even though its not really in style right now.” But that’s the great thing about antiques – they never really go out of style. They just get passed on to somebody else who will appreciate them.
Hanford Antique Emporium
108 E. 8th St., Hanford • (559) 852-1504
Monday – Friday: 10am – 6pm; Saturday: 10am – 5pm
Sunday: noon – 5pm
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