Hanging from the wall at Hollywood Treasures is an ornate turquoise laced cow skull. For owners Michael and Lucy Rudy, it’s what hovers over the cow skull that is priceless.
“We’ve had 20 people ask to buy that picture,” said Lucy. “Michael does not want to sell it.”
The picture that Lucy refers to is a painting of an old Native American warrior riding his horse toward the onlooker. The background in the picture is hazy leaving the Native American as the central focus. The picture is mysterious and filled with ambiguity. It could be a recreation of a warrior riding back to camp victorious after the battle at Little Big Horn. The picture could also be that of a warrior falling behind on the infamous Trail of Tears. Maybe the picture is that of a medicine man on a vision quest?
Michael titled the picture as the “End of the Trail” and says, “It’s my personal favorite, I love Indian things. That’s something I cherish and won’t ever sell.”
Hollywood Treasures, located at 825 W 7th Avenue, Eugene, Ore., engulfs the old Hollywood Video rental store. It’s the perfect location for owners Michael and Lucy Rudy. The store is big enough to display the antiques and collectibles for sale and the added bonus is the fact that Michael has the ability to display his “other items.” Those items are easy to recognize, they have no price tags.
Michael’s command module at Hollywood Treasures is in the back corner behind the customer service counter. His co-pilots are two parrots that are free without a cage; turning the store into an antique collectibles store and a bird sanctuary. Michael’s computer acts as a portal for the other world. This other world is a place where Michael and his fellow captain, wife Lucy, can venture back in time to connect with possessions that are forgotten and are in need of a home.
“Most everybody that collects anything will collect things that they like, Michael said. “We personally know which items will sell and won’t sell so obviously the items that sell are the ones we want to collect.”
The life of an antique collector and dealer is that of personal attachment and narrative. Although they have only owned Hollywood Treasures for 2 years, Michael and Lucy have been antique collectors all their lives. Michael started as a plywood superintendent for a plywood mill for 15 years and his wife Lucy had her own business that supplied material to the plywood company; that’s how they first meet. After the downfall of the wood mills across the country, Michael and Lucy went out and bought their own convenient store. Once the couple retired from the convenient store, Hollywood Treasures was next.
Although not every piece for sale at Hollywood Treasures comes equipped with a personal story, the store is an antique mall where the owners make a 12 percent profit off whatever is purchased from renter’s merchandise, there are items in the store that are not for sale.
“Part of the problem of being in this industry is that you can get attached to something and before you know it, your collecting more back home again than you have for sale,” Michael said. “If we buy something for 50 dollars we have to turn it for 100 dollars to pay the bills and keep the store open. “
What a paradox, having to sell something for profit that you’re attached to. Luckily for Michael and Lucy, people find value in things you wouldn’t have expected.
“Sometimes you get stuff that is absolute garbage,” Lucy said. “What we do is put the word ‘Yard Art’ on it and we can sell the ‘Yard Art’ faster than we can sell the 100-year-old antique vase. People in Eugene are real earthy and they really like that kind of stuff.”
The future of Hollywood Treasures is unknown. Michael has health problems, which have increasingly gotten worse over the past year.
The hope is that Michael and Lucy can pass the store down to family or eventually somebody to run.
When asked when that might be? Michael said with a smile, “We don’t know, sometime in the future;” An answer as ambiguous as his prized Native American painting.