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Weird stuff is treasure for store owner

Prices for the items at Famous Treasures range from a few dollars to thousands.

By MICHELLE JONES

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 11, 2001


LAND O'LAKES -- Former President Clinton and movie star Harrison Ford serve as greeters at Famous Treasures in Land O'Lakes.

Well, sort of.

The two lifesize wax figures bear a striking resemblance to their real-life counterparts. They stand near the door of the quirky business of Steve Richardson and his wife, Jay. Some visitors do a double take as they enter the antique and collectible shop at 4312 Land O'Lakes Blvd.

In between are antiques, collectibles, furniture, pottery, jewelry, clothes, knickknacks, toys and other unusual or hard-to-find treasures.

The Richardsons purchased the store a year ago from Jane Brossard. Previously, it was known as Calamity Jane's.

Collecting and selling antiques is not Richardson's only business; he also owns a detective agency. The shop is a hobby, an elaborate hobby, Pepe said. The couple also own a horse ranch in Ocala.

Outside visitors are greeted with a security sign, warning that even as you are reading the sign, your picture is being taken. This is a precaution to ward off theft: Last month, the store lost two World War II Nazi armbands, valued at $320; and a vase and two candle holders, valued at $710. Pepe believes the armbands were targeted because of their historic significance, not for any kind of a hate group. Clovis Earl Chambliss, 53, of Hudson was arrested and charged in the theft.

Inside, several cameras are stationed to keep track of the shoppers' whereabouts. Shoplifting is definitely discouraged with the use of the surveillance cameras and television sets.

The authentic gasoline pumps outside on the porch are popular items, Pepe said, but one of the most talked about is the stagecoach Pepe says was used in the 1994 movie Tombstone, starring Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer. A few yards away is a full size 1948 yellow Coca-Cola truck, refurbished and is ready to drive off the lot.

"(Richardson) has been offered $50,000 for it, twice and turned it down," said James Herdman, who lives in Clearwater and drives 40 minutes to work at the store.

Herdman says the place is more like a museum than a store. Lobster traps, soda fountain stools, wicker furniture and a ceramic statue of Humphrey Bogart along with several old advertising signs are scattered on the porch or in the yard.

The Richardsons purchase their eclectic assortment of merchandise at auctions, estate and garage sales.

The store is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday through Monday. It is closed on Tuesday and Wednesday.

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