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Treasure hunt: Natchez native opens Relics and Resale in Vidalia

Relics and Resale owner Sabrina Rouse opened her Carter Street store in January. Rouse found her love for antiques and junk when shopping to furnish a new home.  (Sam Gause/The Natchez Democrat)

Relics and Resale owner Sabrina Rouse opened her Carter Street store in January. Rouse found her love for antiques and junk when shopping to furnish a new home. (Sam Gause/The Natchez Democrat)

VIDALIA — Sabrina Rouse’s love of all things old began, ironically, with a new house.

The Natchez native was moving back to her hometown after living in Franklin County for the better part of two decades, and she needed to furnish her new residence.

But furnishing a new house can get expensive fast, and Rouse decided to look for an economical alternative to purchasing everything new.

“I decided to look in the Thrifty Nickel to see what they had, and I saw an estate auction,” she said. “After that, I got addicted.”

Rouse has taken her addiction to Vidalia, opening in January Corban’s Relics and Resale on in Suite 5 of 1642 Carter St.

Since opening, the business — which offers a combination of contemporary, used, antique and what Rouse characterizes as “junk” items — has been pushed into expanding twice into neighboring suites. The second expansion opened last week.

Walk in the front door and to the right is chic, contemporary furniture, while straight ahead is an antique chifferobe surrounded by mint condition period men’s hats. In one corner is a 100-year-old framed photograph of a group of women labeled as the “class of 1914,” and nearby a classic sled that would have made Charles Foster Kane green with envy leans on the wall. Paintings and other art items line the walls.

And while the shop offers classier items, it also has the kind of kitsch — coffee cups painted like playing cards, brass busts of bulldogs — that can keep the resale experience interesting.

“Our customers are people looking for furniture, for do-it-yourself projects, hand tools, even fishing bait,” Rouse said.

“We keep up with what our customers want and we try to find it.”

On the antique side of the business, Corban’s also refurbishes items in need of repair and will reupholster furniture.

“One of my employees does all of my painting, and then I’ll finish it,” Rouse said. “I prefer to use chalk-based paint and give it that distressed look, which is very popular right now.”

Rouse’s expansions since opening have been in part because of antique vendors wanting to get into the Vidalia area. She offers her own items, but — similar to a flea market — offers booth rentals to those who want to sell their own items in her space.

Most of the initial vendors she found through contacts she’d established in her previous careers as a marketer, but as word has gotten out, vendors have come to Rouse, she said.

“I’ve got 20 vendors now, and almost as soon as I opened people started asking if they could get in,” she said.

Rouse said though she and her employees run the cash register, she takes no commission from her vendors after they pay for booth rental.

“What they make here is totally theirs,” she said.

But the success is also because many of the customers have the same kind of good-natured addiction she developed at that first estate sale.

Many visitors to the business have become weekly customers, Rouse said, and with quality resale items in the mix the finds may prove that much sweeter.

“You never know what you will find in a place like this, that you might pay $10 for and find out it’s worth $1,000,” she said. “One time I bought two paintings for $20 total, and I later found out they were worth $900 apiece.”

With a strong base of weekly customers and vendors

“We strive in customer service, in making our vendors happy and we will bargain with people who come in,” she said. “Vidalia has been very good to us, from a welcome from the mayor to the rental people being willing to work with us to customers who have loved what we have.”