The emporium built by auctioneer Kelly Schultz on Main Street in Clarence holds a flea market, antique shop – and hundreds of pumpkins depending on the season. Spend some time with this businessman, and it becomes clear that antiques are his passion.
At age 61, Schultz traces his interest to time spent prowling Allen Street’s antique stores as a young boy. At age 15 when his family moved to Alden, Schultz began to visit farmhouses with his father in search of antiques to sell.
Schultz graduated from Alden Senior High School in 1970, and within months he opened his first antique store on Broadway in Alden. Another on Main Street in Buffalo would follow.
Schultz described his livelihood as treasure hunting, and he has auctioned off some rare finds.
But antiques aren’t the only thing Schultz hunts.
People Talk: Antiques aside, what excites you?
Kelly Schultz: I love the outdoors. I’m a deer hunter. Here’s a photo of one I shot with a bow last night behind my house. That’s relaxing.
PT: Searching for antiques, hunting deer. You must like to explore.
KS: I sit in a tree stand. As for my business, there is nothing more exciting than exploring an attic that hasn’t been gone through in 50 years. I could tell you stories. Talk about hoarders? I have been in houses where I’ve had to sidestep dog feces. I’ve been in houses where items are piled from floor to ceiling.
PT: Do you hoard?
KS: I probably used to. I had five warehouses full of items but over the years I realized that having all this stuff in a warehouse is not what it used to be. We used to have people come in from Texas, California, Oklahoma with huge trucks and load them up because our area had a wealth of antiques. Today I would say I don’t hoard. A hoarder generally won’t sell things. I gather up treasures to sell.
PT: Tell me about the million-dollar Chinese vase you sold at auction.
KS: A couple brought the vase into our store here. I was not positive about the age of this piece because Chinese porcelain is difficult to authenticate. The couple would have sold it for $100. It turned out to be a rare 18th century piece made for some type of royalty. It brought a million and a half dollars. Was my heart rushing? Absolutely. I don’t know of anyone within a few hundred miles who has ever sold a piece for that much money. Pieces like that are not one in a million. They are one in a gazillion. Literally, this came from within two miles of here. It was part of an estate.
PT: Would you like your personal belongings sold at auction?
KS: It’s funny. I told my son I’ll probably have a big auction at the house and just sell everything and start all over. People know I’ve collected stuff for almost 50 years now so there will be a lot of interesting pieces. I love buying things, but better than buying I love selling. There’s almost nothing I would not part with except my father’s favorite rug. He’s been gone for 30 years. For the right price, anything is for sale.
PT: When did you know antiques were your thing?
KS: When I was a kid living on the West Side on Cottage and College streets. I remember walking down Allen Street. At that time it was a hotbed for antiques. There were all these dusty old dirty shops filled with treasures. I wondered how much fun it would be to find these things.
PT: What are your thoughts on eBay?
KS: It has helped and hurt the antique business. When it comes to middle-of-the-road collectibles – common cut-glass, Hummel figurines, Roseville (pottery) – eBay has driven prices down. Antique dolls that used to bring $300 now bring $75. On the other hand, when it gets to some of the rare items the Internet helps because you’re reaching the whole world.
PT: What drives you?
KS: If you are a true antique dealer you have a feeling for this stuff. When I walked into the Louvre for the first time I had goosebumps. When I walked into Notre Dame (cathedral), I had goosebumps until I walked out. I get pleasure from just walking through my house and seeing beautiful things.
PT: Why did you start a pumpkin farm?
KS: Years ago I went to a pumpkin farm with my kids and I always thought I could do one better – someday. They didn’t offer a lot, and it looked like it would be a fun project. So in 1996 I finally opened one. I didn’t know anything about it, but I thought clean restrooms, plenty of parking, lots of pumpkins. That’s part of the battle. We grew about 20 acres of pumpkins that year. We ran a big weigh-off and offered a $50,000 prize for a 1,000-pound pumpkin. I bought insurance for that. It cost $3,600, a great investment. A couple from Lowville, New York, brought one in that weighed 1,061 pounds. We got press throughout the world. It basically put our farm on the map.
PT: What business is more cut-throat: pumpkin weigh-offs or antique sales?
KS: I don’t know that cut-throat is the proper term to use. There is a lot of competition in the pumpkin farm business, but my theory has always been to do the biggest and best and let them worry about it. There’s always someone who thinks they can do it better. Personally I did do it better.
PT: What do you do for fun?
KS: I’ve been to Europe about 18 times. I love going to Europe even though I’m over there buying. I’ve been to China a couple of times. I don’t travel as much as I used to just because we’re so busy that sometimes it’s more difficult to get away.
PT: Describe yourself.