STOCKTON — Cheryl Calvin likes surrounding herself with old things. But new is not bad, either, she has found.
Calvin is owner of Sand Creek Mercantile in Stockton, a store offering pickings from flea markets, auctions and Calvin’s own search for items that interest her.
“I scrounge around and find old brands and make different things,” she said.
“I’m just attracted to just about anything. I’ve been known to go into junkyards and find something.”
The store is closed Mondays and Tuesdays, as well as most Saturdays, so she can go on the hunt for new items.
There are few new items among the home decor she offers, but mainly the store features rustic items transformed into decor, vintage tablecloths and other items.
The centerpieces of the shop are the furniture that Calvin restores. She has a shop area in the back where she works on the tables, cabinets and other pieces. Some of the pieces get refinished, but many others she paints and gives a distressed look for the vintage feel.
Sometimes, she will before working on a piece, like a 1950s gun cabinet in the store. She has ideas of painting it and modifying it into a display case, but also has hopes it might sell as is.
"I try not to paint everything. I realize not everyone likes that painted look," she said. "And we really don't know how long that's going to be in," she said.
She’s proud of a job she won on a bid earlier this year — restoring two century-old tables from the Rawlins County Courthouse. The 4-by-8-foot tables took about a month to strip and refinish. The tables were too large and heavy to move into her shop, so she worked in the storage container used to transport them from Atwood.
“That’s the part of the business that really keeps the store open, doing furniture and then everything else in between,” she said.
Everything else includes some light sewing and chair re-upholstery.
She’s also a photographer, although she said she hasn’t had much time for it lately.
Her love of all things old stems from her childhood on a farm 8 miles west of Stockton. The name of the store comes from the creek that ran through the property.
Her family lived in an old stone house until she was 5, when her parents built a brand-new house nearby in the late 1950s.
“It was a nice home, don’t get me wrong, but I still have memories of that old stone house. I’m very attracted to stone,” she said.
She also has fond memories of an old wash house on the farmstead, a 10-by-10-foot unfinished structure with a concrete floor and exposed wall framing.
“This is the real key to why I love all this stuff. That used to be my playhouse. I would sweep the floors and sweep the little sidewalk,” she said.
Her current work is far from what she originally set out to do after she left Stockton, though.
“I didn’t go to college for this,” she said with a laugh. “I have two degrees, and they’re in criminal justice.”
She worked in that field for 26 years in Wichita before she and her husband, David, moved to Stockton 11 years ago. They bought an older house in town and the storefront as a place for all the antiques and items she’d acquired.
Calvin is having to get used to a new house, however. In July — 11 years to the day she and David closed on the property — the 101-year-old house burned down.
The loss of the home, and the couple’s dog, has been a big adjustment, she said. They have moved into a home that is only four years old.
“I’ve always been dedicated to older homes, but they are a lot of work to maintain. There’s always something that needs to be fixed. This new home, my husband loves it. I’m starting to like it,” she said.
But she finds comfort in her store.
“This is like my second home. I still get to be here with the old stuff.”