Antique dealer can't ignore a bargain
by Craig Murphy | © Washington State University
"I enjoy meeting people, doing things to feel the pulse of what's going on in the world." -Anita Busek '49
The rumble of a passing train tells you that All Aboard Antique Co. in Puyallup is no ordinary antique shop. The store is located 12 feet from train tracks, looks like a red caboose on the outside, and has railroad items displayed throughout.
The trains shake the whole building. "No picture hangs straight for long, "says Anita Busek, 76, with a laugh. She's one of three owners.
Perhaps it's fitting that Busek went to college in a town named after George Pullman, inventor of the Pullman sleeping car. After earning a degree ('49 Speech Comm.) at Washington State College, she worked at several radio stations, and was manager of KBLE-FM in Seattle when it was sold to the Marriott family business in 1982. In her 60s, she was hired and later retired from Boeing.
Busek also had a couple of stints in early Pacific Northwest television-one at KCTS and another at KOMO. In 1958 KOMO had purchased the only color-television camera west of the Mississippi and north of California to broadcast one five-minute program in color per day: the weather in the early-evening newscast. She was billed as a strawberry-blonde weather girl. One of two newscasters in the still black-and-white studio was fellow WSC grad Keith Jackson ('54 Speech Comm.).
Busek's fond memories of Washington State led her to establish a communication scholarship in her own name and a scholarship in women's studies in memory of her mother, Johanna Kostick Busek. She plans to create a third scholarship in the name of her sister, Agnes Busek Brenneis.
Anita Busek has been traveling to car swaps, flea markets, and glass and antique shows as a hobby for 35 years. She started collecting and selling Depression glassware-that pink- and green-colored glassware from the '30s frequently found in boxes of oatmeal or soap. Her collection has expanded over the years until she now has an eclectic mix.
"As a dealer, it's hard to ignore a bargain in anything," she says. Her favorites at the moment are teddy bears, ranging from Starbucks to Steiff, a German brand recognizable by the button in the bear's ear. She recently purchased five of the fuzzy bears for $700 and says, "I thought I got a bargain." Her bear collection-none of which are for sale-numbers in the 50s, including almost 20 Steiffs, which she plans to leave to friends.
Busek and her collector-partners Linda Febus and Jackie Jeffords purchased the business last summer and renamed it. It originally opened as Hickory Hill in September 2000. With the floor space of a basketball court, All Aboard accommodates some two-dozen vendors in color- designated exhibit areas. Collectibles range from the primitive-motor oilcans and a ship's wheel-to the refined-sterling hand mirrors and fabric stamps. Furniture includes oak chairs, desks, and bedroom suites. There's even a hand-carved wooden sailing ship.
As much as she enjoys the business, Busek says, "Reproductions, mostly from foreign countries, have made it tough on collecting."
While others her age might be content to sit in front of a television, Busek makes the half-hour drive from her Sea-Tac home to Puyallup four days a week.
She says, "I enjoy meeting people, doing things to feel the pulse of what's going on in the world."
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