Collectible antique salvage-hounds in Washtenaw County have a new destination for discovering old treasures with the opening of Lucky Haskins Antiques in downtown Dexter.
The store, which opened in mid-March, features jewelry, toys, magazines and books, furniture, and collectibles.
"I've been getting a lot of people walking through since we've opened," owner A. Benjamin Hourani said. "So far the store has had a warm reception from the community."
Hourani said his interest in opening an antique store stems from his childhood visits to his grandparents' house as well as movies like Back to the Future and A Christmas Story.
"When I was growing up, my grandma was big into antiques and her basement was just full of unique stuff that was fun to see," Hourani said.
Hourani himself began collecting in 1996 following a four-year stint as a professional chef in Ann Arbor.
"I did some (collecting) on the side over the years, but I didn't get serious about it until the late 1990s," he said.
That's when he approached an old friend, Carl Legler, owner of Antelope Antiques in Ann Arbor, who taught him the "tricks of the trade."
"Carl gave me a 100-year-old cash register that I still use," Hourani said.
Now Hourani travels around the state to purchase treasures from estate sales and auctions, but stressed that the job is not as easy as it looks on TV.
"I have a chip on my shoulder with those television shows that make collecting look so easy," he said. "I might spend an entire day looking for stuff, and it's never something that's going to make me rich."
Hourani said every few years he gets a lucky find, such as the 1930s ray gun that hangs proudly on the store's wall in close proximity to an authentic 1970s Star Wars movie poster.
"The ray gun is not for sale," he joked. "There are some things that I like to keep for myself."
Over the years he has also come across Civil War memorabilia, authentic American Indian arrowheads, and a railroad padlock that is 120 years old.
"One time I bought a replica time machine made out of solid brass from the television show Voyagers. It looked like an old steam pump by today's standards, but there are only a few of those out there and I wish I would've kept mine," he said.
Since opening, Hourani said he has met a lot of interesting customers, who are both eager to sell and buy antiques.
"I hear a lot of people say that they are glad I'm here. That means a lot to me," he said. "I had a similar business in Ann Arbor, but it was in a bad location and people could take it or leave it."
However, opening an antique store in a downturn economy is not without risk, he said.
"I was terribly concerned about opening. Antique stores are, by their nature, a risky business," Hourani said.
Currently Hourani works all of the store shifts, which cuts down on overhead cost and other expenses.
"If one knows what they are doing, you don't have to rip off people to pay your bills," he said. "I keep my profits manageable and I can go to bed at night knowing that I'm not dogging anyone."
Hourani said he feels like he has a sixth sense and that instinct drove him to open the new store that was formally occupied by Nagel's Jerky.
"I'm good with instinct statistics.I feel people are starting to spend more money," he said. "And I have a luxury that a lot of places don't have: my inventory is always changing. You never know what I might have from one week to the next, so I'm lucky that way."
Lucky Haskins LLC is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. It is closed on Mondays.
"I will probably be open later in the summer months," Hourani said. "Basically if the green open sign is on, I'm here and people can come in."
For more information, call 734-476-7930.