ELLERBE — Myrna Troxler moved to Ellerbe in 2000 from Holden Beach where she was in real estate as an office manager for Coldwell Banker. But Troxler never stopped picking.
The term picking is used to describe the art of finding antiques, or “diamonds in the rough,” as Troxler put it. Her passion for picking persuaded her to start an online company called the Webay Store that allows Troxler to buy and sell items for people online.
“I was determined to open a store and ended up opening a store in 2000 — The Webay Store,” said Troxler. “I leased the store that’s currently a barber shop beside the (Ellerbe) Post Office and was there a year.”
Since moving into her current shop on Main Street where the only stoplight in Ellerbe resides, Troxler has noticed how antiques stores in the town went from booming to almost nonexistent. Now, the town is seeing what she calls “an antique rebirth.”
Troxler, along with other antique store owners, hopes those traveling through the town will have a chance to look around while sitting at that single stoplight. It’s there, she hopes, that word of mouth and an online presence will help Ellerbe lure other potential buyers and sellers back to the area.
Next door to the Webay Store, Jamaica native Donovan Reid has opened her own thrift store. Last year her shop, Christian Boutique and Thrift Store, relocated from Charlotte Street in Hamlet. Reid wanted to be ahead of the curve and be located near that famous stoplight. Her first day of business at the new site was Jan. 16.
Although she started the business as a global shipping company out of Hamlet, Reid knows there is money to be made in the small town but said, “Ellerbe needs a lot of feedback.”
Across the street from the Webay Store and Christian Boutique is where Robert Hough’s business, Hough’s Carolina Antiques, is located. Labeled as the veteran on the block, Hough has been in business for 35 years and specializes in the restoration of furniture from all over the United States.
“He works with a high-end interior designer that sends stuff and has it restored,” Troxler said of Hough.
One highlighted item in Carolina Antiques is a turn-of-the-century X-ray machine. Although its history hasn’t been verified, Hough thinks it’s from the former Hamlet Hospital, and it has even been featured on the website of the Electrotherapy Museum of West Palm Beach, Florida.
Next door to Carolina Antiques is where Marion Martin started her business, This and That, on Oct. 8, 2015 with partner and Ellerbe resident Nancy Sellers. Sellers also owns a beauty shop in the small town.
“My partner talked me into it,” said Martin. “She thought I needed something to do in my retirement.”
Martin said she originally tried selling some items at the Rockingham Farmers Market, but the hot weather gave her other ideas. She said Sellers encouraged her to buy the property that was formerly a drugstore with soda fountains in the front and a pharmacy in the back.
“We have a lot of people that want to look at the old drug store memorabilia and furniture,” said Martin.
The store features a wide variety, but Martin said the most sought-after and collectible items are Royal Dalton dishware, which she said is “very expensive.”
Other bestselling items include small pieces of furniture, chalk paint pieces that Martin creates herself, pottery and secondhand books. There’s even an antique wooden ironing board.
“With us it’s a catch as catch can,” she said. “If you come in and come back, it might not be here.”
Meanwhile, back across the street on the same side as the Webay Store, Cathy Hyatt is preparing to open the Curious Cat Marketplace. Although she resides in Union County, Hyatt also sees Ellerbe as a place ready to boom with business.
Her store is a little different, however, in that she will feature different vendors to go along with her own items. She rents out sections of the store, charging 50 cents a square foot.
Hyatt said roughly 10 to 15 years ago she opened a store in Albermarle but has regretted it ever since. It’s because of that that she figured she would try something different this time around and give other buyers and sellers a place to operate.
“I’m not far from retirement, so it’s something I can do after retirement,” said Hyatt. “But if a vendor comes in I’ll move my stuff upstairs and sell their stuff first. Vendors’ items are the first priority.”
The Webay Store is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, the Christian Boutique and Thrift Store operates from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and the Curious Cats Marketplace will be open for business from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays to Saturdays.
Days and hours of operation for other antique stores in Ellerbe can be obtained by calling Troxler at 910-995-9018.
Reach reporter Matt Harrelson at 910-817-2674, follow him on Twitter @mattyharrelson and listen to him at 12:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays on G-104.3 FM.