Every year, Flowery Branch Antiques’ doors are opened on the first day of the new year for a special auction and every year dozens of enthusiasts flood the warehouse in search of a bargain.
Some attendees come with a specific item in mind and others are just there to see what they can find, but they all have one thing in common — a love of antiques.
"I’ve been coming to the New Year’s Day auction for the past six years," said Russ McCall, a resident of Gainesville. "My brother (Moses) got me interested in coming when my wife and I first moved to Gainesville from Stone Mountain. Everyone here is like one big happy family."
McCall said attending the antique auction in Flowery Branch has been more than a way to spend his first morning in a new year; it has also been how he has made his house a home.
"My wife, Nancy, and I love antiques. Our house is totally furnished with them," he said. "The quality of antique furniture is something that you can’t find today. It’s a good way to furnish your home inexpensively, the pieces never depreciate in value, and it’s something that you can pass on to your heirs."
Although many local antique dealers have complained that business has all but stopped in the past 12 months, nearly 200 people attended the auction Thursday morning in Flowery Branch. However, a sign of the poor economic times could be seen in the prices fetched on some of the larger furniture pieces. A large oak cabinet with a glass front and glass shelves that could have easily cost $1,000 sold for $150.
Despite some disappointing bids, Pat Branson, co-owner of the antique shop, said the day was a success.
"We (did) very well. We started at 10 a.m., but we’ll stay as long as people are bidding. We have more than 500 pieces to sell," she said during Thursday’s auction.
While there weren’t as many bidders for the larger items, many of the smaller pieces turned into a fierce, but friendly, fight to the finish.
When a lavender enamel-coated porcelain foot tub came up for auction, the first bidder raised their placard at $10, but the sale didn’t close until the auctioneer reached $55.
For some in attendance, like Moses McCall, the love for antiques runs deep. He not only got his brother, Russ McCall, into antique hunting, he also drives 140 miles three times a month to sell antique glassware at the Flowery Branch shop. His collections are the envy of many.
"His collections are simply beautiful," Branson said.
Although Moses McCall is knowledgeable about antique glassware, he got into the genre in a roundabout sort of way.
"I started out collecting antique furniture, but then we ran out of room for more pieces, so then I got started collecting the glassware," Moses said. "I have thousands of pieces in my collection, but I don’t sell those."