When you meet someone who has made it their job to sell off their collection of old odds and ends, it’s interesting to know what they first collected first as a child. In the case of Tim Fuller, owner and operator of Tim’s Picks on Main Street in Over-the-Rhine, it’s baseball cards. His father ran a drugstore that sold them, which enabled young Fuller to build his collection to a sizable quantity. Does he still have any of them? No, he learned early on that prized collectibles can be easily sold off, in his case for beer money back in college.
Tim’s Picks is a vintage/antique store that specializes in local ephemera dating back to the turn of the 20th century. When I spoke with Fuller in his shop we sat on a pair of elegant mid-century modern Rattan wrought iron chairs with polished wooden seats, where I received a lesson on his favorite items both up for sale and not. The fact that he’s able to educate you while maintaining a conversational and casual tone is not surprising: The shop is Fuller’s retirement plan after a 25-year career as a social studies teacher at Anderson High School.
He and his wife Connie purchased the space at 1336 Main St., formerly occupied by Shadeau Breads, last October. After some major renovations, including a new floor, walls, HVAC system and the opening of a skylight that was previously covered up, the shop was ready to open by May.
“I retired in 2015 and from then until we opened this store I was primarily out searching, shaking the trees, looking for anything that struck my fancy and that I thought I could turn people on to and sell,” he says. “It was in the back of my head while I was still teaching.”
The collection in the shop is eclectic and spans decades of pop culture, sports, music, kitchenware, fashion and beyond. If you’re a Rolling Stones fan you can get satisfaction here; vintage concert T-shirts, posters, magazine interviews and vinyl records make up a sort of Stones shrine in the middle of the shop. Those are all from his collection, but before retirement his overall inventory increased exponentially.
“My wife had an eccentric aunt. She and her husband never had children. She passed in 2012 and she had a house out in Mt. Healthy, two bedrooms with an attic and a basement,” he says. “Literally floor to ceiling, stacked with things. She was a hoarder, but an organized hoarder. When she passed I started going through the house and I found an amazing number of things.”
Some of the items procured include Ditzler calendars featuring buxom pin-up gals made between the 1950s and ’80s. There are T-shirts, space-related memorabilia, Miami license plates, Holiday Inn towels, jackets and more. There are a number of autographs from racers, film stars, comedians and even Neil Armstrong, but Fuller is waiting for the right time to verify these items. (This was easy to do, since the aunt provided contextual papers known as provenance with the autographs that explain where and when they were signed to add legitimacy.)
Other sources of inventory Fuller relies on are Craigslist, antique and thrift shops and online auctions — it’s a daily hustle. All the items he has that aren’t in the OTR shop are stored in a building in Blue Ash.
The store may not be a museum, but Fuller always enjoys when a potential customer is made happy from a flash of nostalgia upon seeing something from their youth. To give an example, Fuller brings out a 1961 Cincinnati phone book — an item he’ll likely keep around for display only, unless an unbeatable offer is made.
“I’ve had people come in and ask if it’s for sale. Originally it was, but then more and more people, I noticed them looking up their home from when they were a kid or their grandparents’ houses and they’ll take a picture of it,” he says. “Who would’ve thought we’d be taking a picture of our phone number out of a phone book with our phones? Technology brings irony, I guess.”
Fuller does buy antiques, but, to help people from wasting too much time and energy, he’s not really interested in large wooden furniture as it takes up too much space to be worthwhile. Call ahead if you’re curious about any items.
Tim’s Picks on Main is located at 1336 Main Street. More info: tims-picks.com.