It’s about 10:15 on a rainy Saturday morning and I’m driving around Lake City, Florida looking for something that will create an interesting image. When I see a building with a weathered exterior, I start looking for a place to park and pull my car in next to a small antique shop that doesn’t open until 10:30. After getting a couple of compositions that look good on the back of the camera, I walk back to the car. Just as I’m putting my gear in the back seat, the door on the antique shop opens, a man emerges, and strikes up a conversation with me.
As it turns out, Bill is a rather engaging fellow. Pretty soon our discussion has moved from the parking lot to the inside of his shop, which is pretty much filled to bursting with smaller antiques and many of those are rings and necklaces. We talk about retirement. Bill was a professor at the local community college for 30 years and opened the antique shop to supplement his income. We discuss travel. Bill and his wife have done a fair amount. We chat about overseas mission trips we’ve taken and the benefits we received from those ventures. The topic of children and grandchildren comes up and the conversation continues. We cover the merits of living in Florida versus other states and agree it’s a pretty good place to be. At some point the topic of mortality gets raised and there’s something else we have in common. Cancer. Bill’s wife had a very serious reaction to chemotherapy and it was touch and go for a while. She’s bounced back and they are quite involved in music with their church; she plays the organ and he leads the choir.
When I asked Bill if he ever thought of getting a larger place his response was, “Yes, but I decided against it. I knew I would just fill it up, too.” It’s always time well spent conversing with someone who possesses great self awareness. If you happen to be in Lake City, I highly recommend stopping at Duval Cottage Antiques to see what he has on display.
Name: Bill Poplin
Job Title: Shopkeeper
What do you like most about your job? I find it hard to pick between the old things and people, but I think it is the old things that bring us together.
What is the hardest part of your job that no one knows about? Pricing things. It’s not always fun. My prices are based on observations…what the local market is and what I paid for it. If someone asks if I can do better on a particular item, my answer is, “Probably.”
If you weren’t doing this work, what type of work would you be doing? I have a property rental business on the side and I would focus more on that.
If you could go back in time and talk to yourself at age 16, what would you say? You will encounter difficulty in life. Never, ever give up. Keep your faith. You are not alone.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given? This came courtesy of my grandmother. “Scratch it if it itches, even if it’s in your britches.”