Customers get hooked on collectibles' charm

December 22, 1992|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,Staff Writer

You could call Denise Hull's customers obsessed.

For years, they've come to the Calico Mouse in Annapolis in search of just the right gnome, mouse, angel, porcelain doll or Smith Brothers reproduction cookie tin to add to their collections.

"Some people almost become addicted," Mrs. Hull said.

Once they begin amassing pieces in a line of collectibles, such as Hummel figurines, "they want almost every one," she said. "Others want just the ones they like."

A customer once surveyed the shop's mix of Tom Clark gnome figurines, made from crushed pecan shells, and commented that he had 400 like them at home.

"Something just strikes their fancy," Mrs. Hull said. "It is very interesting to observe what people do collect."

After 14 years of running the Main Street gift shop, Mrs. Hull and her husband, Richard, have opened a second location, at Marley Station mall in Glen Burnie.

The new shop, like its counterpart, is a collector's paradise.

Customers will find a mix of curios, artwork and accent pieces. There are limited edition etchings of Annapolis' Conduit and Market streets by artist Joan Menard, clay Christmas caroler figurines by a Pennsylvania artist, homemade dolls, Navajo sand paintings, and wood block paintings of such Annapolis landmarks as Middleton Tavern and Chick & Ruth's Delly.

"We try to carry a lot of things made in the United States, well-done pieces that are collectible or unusual," Mrs. Hull said.

The shop also carries houses and characters from the lighted, hand-painted porcelain miniature villages that have become popular at Christmas. On display are carousel music boxes, hand-painted calligraphy signs and Santa Claus figurines made from stiffened fabric.

The Hulls opened a shop on Main Street 14 years ago as an antique furniture refinishing business. But the couple found many of their customers also looking for local handicrafts.

When they began ordering wares from local craftspeople, the Hulls found those pieces easier to sell and restock than the antique furniture -- which they eventually phased out in favor of handicrafts.

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