Commonwealth Journal

July 31, 2012

Pickers Paradise

The Tick Ridge home of Steve & Sue Wilson is a testament to their love of collectibles

By DON WHITE, CJ Correspondent
Commonwealth Journal

Somerset —  

Sue Wilson has a two-story 10-room house, a garage, and five other buildings on her property. And, she has a problem.
“I’m still buying stuff, but I just don’t have a place to put it. I need another building.”
The “stuff” includes as wide of an array of antiques as may be found in Kentucky.
Should the crew from the popular TV show “American Pickers” ever show up at her place on Tick Ridge, they best be prepared to spend a week.
What began as Sue’s Greenhouses has evolved into a homegrown enterprise dealing in antiques, gift shop items, starter plants, and local honey.
Visitors can even help themselves to a moon pie and soft drink inside one of a series of buildings resembling an old-fashioned general store.
Colorful vintage advertising signs dominate the exterior walls of all buildings, and the wide array of vintage items extend into the yard of the house next door that she shares with husband, Steve.
The signs number over 200, but “there are hardly any we’d want to sell because we just like them.”
A 1966 graduate of Nancy High, the daughter of the late Cecil and Dorothy Rainwater Allen, was reared “just down the road,” where she attended the four-room Cedar Point Grade School.
She has fond memories of all her teachers, noting those who stood out at Nancy High include Sharon Tiller, Alberta Foster, Donald Burris, Ray Ramsey, and May Barlow.
Although an avid collector most of her life, the hobby/business picked up steam following her retirement from First & Farmers Bank 12 years ago. She spent 33 years with the Somerset institution. She was a loan officer and customer service representative at the Plaza branch the last years of her tenure.
“I bought my greenhouses from the Mennonites in Casey County and did that for 10 years while Steve worked for Hinkle Construction operating a blacktopper.”
She sold the greenhouses three years ago, but continues to maintain one alongside her other buildings. She sells starter plants out of it and raises produce to sell at the Somerset Mall Farmer’s Market.
Early on, she furnished mums to the nearby Haney’s Orchard, giving her business greater exposure to people from all across the state and increasing traffic to her store.
“I advertised for the first two years I was here, but never had to after that due to word of mouth….which is the best advertising. Many days the parking lot here is full.”
Her busy life also includes serving as custodian at Walnut Hill Elementary in Casey County. She reports to the school near Liberty each weekday afternoon throughout the school year, after maintaining hours of 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. at her store.
She is in her ninth year with the school system, where Steve has been employed as a bus driver. He will begin working for Wayne County schools this fall, transporting students from the Jabez area to Nancy Elementary.
High school sweethearts, the couple will have been wed 43 years in November and are parents of one daughter, Kia, 39, who lives nearby with her daughter, Angela, eight.
The Wilson residence, built in the 1940s by the late Finley Lane, is wall-to-wall antiques in every room. Among the most cherished possessions is a kitchen cabinet that belonged to Sue’s grandmother, Nettie Allen.
“I love antiques, especially primitives,” she says, stating the obvious.
One of her most unique items of local interest is a dining table from the old Hotel Beecher in downtown Somerset.
Wilson says she doesn’t miss day-to-day involvement with her greenhouses because of the demanding nature of the business. “It’s a gamble, having greenhouses. People just don’t realize how much work goes into that.”
She says having her gift/antique shop is work, but also a pleasurable experience of being surrounded by items she enjoys, friends and family.
“We have people like Rick Delk who like to stop by, get a soft drink, and sit out on the front porch.
“I’m usually around, but if I’m not here, people leave money for their drinks on the table.”
And when she’s away, you can rest assured she’s more than likely out looking for more uantiques.
“The main thing I’m looking for now is a mill stone. Of course, I have no place to put it, but would likely lean it up against a tree.
“I told Steve, I just might use it for my headstone.”