Pass It On helps preserve small pieces of history

Savage Mill shop sells the treasure-savers in lesser quantities

Small business

April 23, 2001|By TaNoah Morgan | TaNoah Morgan,SUN STAFF

Nancy Davis' store is the 7-Eleven of preservation.

Pass It On, a supply store that recently opened in Savage Mill, has products that will keep silver from tarnishing, paper from decaying and photographs from yellowing as time metes out its punishment on treasured items.

With her niche-market store, Davis is hoping to fill a void in the marketplace for average people who want to keep heirloom quilts or priceless photographs in mint condition, but don't need enough materials to start a small museum.

The store grew out of her business as an objects conservator.

"A lot of times, people will call me and want to know how to preserve objects and display them," she said. "That got me thinking there was a market for a store that would supply small quantities of the supplies museums need to preserve items."

In her store, next to the spice shop in the mill, Davis sells the archival-quality items that museums use to keep and display just about anything. Photo sheets made of Mylar, plastic corners and acid-free paper are tools that will help keep photographic memories vivid. Monofilament wire, acid-free display boxes and tiny pegs can help create a memory box to store childhood keepsakes without damaging the aging knick-knacks. Static cling cotton dusting cloths and a jar of micro-crystalline wax will shine Grandma's hand-stained coffee table and protect it from scratches and water damage.

In addition to serving the public, Davis said she hopes small museums, which do not have the money to order in quantity from catalogs, may find her store a welcome alternative.

"Something like that for us would be a great help," said Abbi Wicklein-Bayne, assistant director of the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House Museum in Baltimore. "We don't have it in our budget to [purchase] more than one or two [items] at a time, so we order as little as we can" from catalogs.

Although some catalog companies do allow orders of small quantities of products, that policy is rare to find. The orders cost more, and those sources are not widely known to the public, according to Louise T. Brownell, registrar with the Maryland Historical Society.

One advantage Davis has over the catalogers is convenience. Shoppers can walk in, browse for just the right size acid-free display box or photo album and walk out with a purchase.

"It's the equivalent of a 7-Eleven or a Royal Farms," Brownell said. "I know people are always asking how they can get [preservation materials], then they find out they have to buy so much" from mail-order companies.

Pass It On opened last month, allowing Davis the opportunity to expand some of her conservation work to an office. Davis said she chose the mill because of its historic location and because the shopping center, with its mix of antiques and art stores, could draw the types of customers she would need.

"Someone who purchases an antique may have objects they want to preserve," she said.

Next month, Davis said, she will begin a series of clinics on preservation methods.

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