Interview with Fred and Tracie Watson
Fred and Tracie Watson are the owners of Yachats Mystic Antiques, located at 310 N. Hwy 101 in downtown Yachats.
|Grafonola, by Columbia |
(early 20th Century)
Fred: Did you see this old phonograph over here?
TYG: Does it actually work?
Fred: This is actually called a Grafonola, by Columbia. It’s a little bit broken—this arm doesn’t go all the way. Yep [to the Publisher], wind it up there... Then what we do is just turn this on, [then] spin the record... now just pick [the arm] up, and set it like this... There you go! [lovely, old-timey tunes pour forth]
TYG: [grinning] That is awesome!
Fred: And this is your volume control! [pulls on a knob at the front of the cabinet, and the sound grows]
TYG-Graphic Design: [laughing] Oh my gosh! It’s a louver! That is so fun!
Tracie: High tech, huh? [laughs]
Fred: And here [points to a space beneath the louvers that looks like a bellows, with a row of numbered typewriter-style keys above it] is where you stored your records. You would have a map [on the inside of the lower doors] that says like, “11. Frank Sinatra,” or something. You push the button, and the record pops out [from between the bellows’ “sleeves”].
TYG-GD: Oh, my golly day. [lots of laughter and exclamations all around]
Fred: Let’s push some and see if a record comes out... Oh, there’s one! [to the Publisher] Try 15! And then you can take the record out and play it.
TYG-GD: What year is this from?
Fred: I think it’s from the late teens [of the 20th century].
TYG: Which side is up—I can’t tell!
TYG-GD: It’s two-sided.
Tracie: You play both sides!
TYG: [reading the label] Frank Sinatra...
Tracie: Oh! Oh my gosh! Did you know that was going to be him?
Fred: No, I didn’t! [all laughing] [the Publisher remembers how to get everything going again, and plays the record]
TYG: That is incredible. That is actually pretty good sound!
Fred: Yes, isn’t it, for just wood? There’s no electricity... [the record starts repeating, so he stops it] It gets sticky—I have to mail it out [for repairs]. Well, let’s set it aside. You have to push this button to stop it.
TYG: Oh, and there’s a slow button as well! There’s actually variable speed!
TYG-GD: Yes, because there were some records that were only about seven inches across, and they needed to be played more slowly.
Fred: Right, 45 [rpm]’s. These are 78 [rpm]. I’m glad you liked trying that out! Nice job Allen, well done!
TYG: That is impressive. That is so cool. [grins and laughter all around]
Fred: You don’t mind if I sit down, do you?
TYG: Of course not... So, who or what gave you the idea to open Mystic Antiques?
Fred: I have to hand that all to Tracie. Tracie was the one who gave me the idea to open Mystic Antiques.
Tracie: Well, this has been our dream for... kind of 40 years! And then in 1995 we went on a trip with our children up here. And that’s when I got the Oregon fever. And I said, “Oh, I’ve got to move to Oregon.”
TYG: Why did you choose to open a store in Yachats?
Tracie: Oregon fever! I got it really bad. I wasn’t really sure where, exactly, I wanted to be. And then maybe 15 years ago, I had a friend—she’s still my very good friend—whose mother lives in Waldport. And we’d come up here and visit her. Then I’d come down to Yachats... I visited Valerie at the Antique Virgin. I just drove down the road here, and went in there.
TYG: This is the prime real estate! Any business in this building is prime real estate—a whole side of the building is right next to the highway! Perfect sign fronting, it’s dead flat... It’s perfect!
Tracie: [Fred and Tracie are both chuckling] I’m glad to hear you say that!
Fred: We’ve been pretty happy here.
Tracie: But I really fell in love with this building, too! And yellow just happens to be my favorite color, too! But when I went in next door and talked to Valerie [owner of the Antique Virgin], it turned out we had so many things in common, because she’s from southern California, and she has a daughter named Kelsey... there’s just a lot of things. She was playing a CD when I walked in that is one of my favorite CDs, and I was just like, “Wow!” And I started talking to her, and after I talked to her, I thought, “I can do this! I want to do this! This is it. Yachats is the place.” As I said—I knew I wanted to move to Oregon, but I just didn’t know where. So then we’ve been working toward it ever since. [...] You know, when my children were younger, and they were living at home, I thought about maybe Corvallis, or McMinnville—a bigger place where there’s a college.
TYG: McMinnville makes sense for kids, because there’s the Air Museum.
Tracie: Oh... yes. And then they have the wine area—I like that too. But now that my children are out—my son’s in San Rafael, he has a good job; my daughter is in San Luis Obispo going to college—we decided on Yachats!
TYG: Just a question—what’s with all the “Sans” in southern California? I think it has something to do with its Spanish heritage, but I’m not quite sure.
Tracie: “San” is “Saint,” right? The Spaniards that came here were Catholic, so everything was San Diego, San Luis Obispo...
TYG: San Francisco...
Tracie: San Francisco is St. Francis!
TYG: Right! I knew that one, but wasn’t sure about the others. So, do you have a particular focus for your antiques?
Fred: I think we have about five main areas where we like to collect. Glassware, especially glassware—we’ve been collecting that for over 20 years. Jewelry: we have some sterling silver jewelry that is neat, too, because certain pieces are signed. Just like certain pieces of glassware are signed. So it’s fun to classify them. We [also] have costume jewelry, but no gold. It’s easy that way. And then we have three other things besides the glass and the jewelry: a lot of vintage clothing that my wife has collected over the years...
TYG: Some of it not quite so vintage anymore, because it’s come back into style. I’m seeing most of these as perfectly acceptable in modern life, and in fact, it would be fashionable!
Fred: And that’s exactly what the customers say when they come in here! It’s been well-received.
TYG: Like that jacket up there...
TYG-GD: It’s pretty!
Tracie: I call it “wearable art.” So it’s either vintage, or wearable art. I love silk, embroidery, tie dye—anything to let your... oh, what was I going to say?...
TYG: “Creative spirit”?
Tracie: Oh, that’s exactly it! How did you know that’s what I was going to say? Your creative spirit being expressed on your outside. We all have that inside, but when you wear these clothes, you’ll be expressing it on your outside too.
Fred: We have two other things besides the clothes. Artwork—we have a lot of artwork, and we’re busy putting it up on the walls right now, and you can see a lot of pictures going up. [The Publisher indicates a preference for one of them] Right, that’s a piece of what they call mid-century op-art. And we have metaphysical books! So basically those five things: glass, jewelry, metaphysical books, clothing, and art.
TYG: What exactly do you mean by “metaphysical”?
Fred: Um, my wife would have to explain that a little bit more! [laughter]
Tracie: So the books have different ways of looking at the world. So I have Buddhism, books on psychic energy...
TYG: So, partly spiritual.
Tracie: Spiritual, exactly.
TYG: So is there any normal fiction?
Tracie: Not really. I do have some rare books that are fiction, so I have a children’s section back there too.
TYG: Cool! Anything in particular that has an interesting story?
Tracie: Hrm. Well, you learned about the phonograph...
TYG: Although I didn’t get any of the story behind it, just the mechanics.
Fred: Yeah, there isn’t really a great story. Just bought it at a garage sale. Actually, I guess no piece is of real, big significance. They’re all fun to collect, and to catalogue. Whenever I buy glassware, I try to catalogue it, so when I label something they know what it is. [Fred takes us to his back room, where he has a large collection of books on collectibles.] These are all my glass books, so when I get a piece of glass I come in here, and I can grab the book, and on most things you can actually look up a pattern. If it’s in a pattern, they’ll tell you the exact piece that it is, and they’ll give you the price. So if you had an ice bucket in blue, and it was made in 1927, it goes for $125.
TYG-GD: What year was that published?
Fred: In 1999. But prices have gone down, since 2008.
TYG-GD: Why in 2008?
Fred: Well, that’s when the economy started heading down. There wasn’t as much disposable income in the economy so people couldn’t afford to buy antiques like they did before. But it’s coming back up a little. So I guess not one item has a big story, but it’s fun to look up every item and see where it was manufactured, what year it was from, what color it is, what pattern it is...
TYG: Where did you move from?
Fred: We moved from Ventura, California, and we moved at the end of October last year.
Tracie: We rented the shop last January because we didn’t want it to get away—like you said, this is a great spot. So even though we knew we couldn’t open it soon since we were still living in southern California, we just wanted to have this spot. So he came up [about] ten times during the year with a van.
Fred: I used my airline miles to rent a van and pick it up at the airport, drive home, fill it with stuff, drive here...
Tracie: He had all those airline miles because he had had a job where he flew a lot.
TYG: What job was that?
Fred: It was like a logistics manager. I was working for a semi-conductor test equipment company, and I did logistics.
TYG: What was that all about?
Fred: That was trying to reduce lead times and cost.
TYG: Hmm. Trying to reduce the time between when the signal is sent and the time it’s received—is that what you mean by lead time?
Fred: Um... pretty much. When the signal is sent, and the product is received. So the signal is sent to a manufacturer that we need a product, and it takes a while for that manufacturer to build it, depending on how many. You would think you could get a nail tomorrow, if you needed one. But if you order ten million nails, they wouldn’t have those for you right away. So it always depends on quantity of what you want as to how quickly they can get it to you. So there’s a balance in there, and it was always what I worked out with suppliers.
TYG: Although I doubt a semi-conductor company uses nails or even screws. I would think it would be all welding!
Fred: No, we actually did, because [for] a lot of the big equipment, they put it in pallets. They use screws in those. And one time, we actually had a problem where there was a manipulator that was rusting. The hardware on it was rusting, and they couldn’t figure out where the moisture was coming from. It was actually coming from the wood pallet it was on, and plastic was over the wood pallet to keep it, and that created an atmosphere where the moisture came up from the wood pallet into that, and actually created moisture on the nuts and bolts.
TYG: So you put it in extra plastic sheets?
Fred: They stopped using wood, because nothing that had any moisture could be in there. So they started packing them in plastic—like a heavy plastic. But work was work—it was always fun when I wasn’t working. So with my wife, we’d go to garage sales, and flea markets, and estate sales.
TYG: Was there anything else you wanted to add?
Tracie: Well, we also carry journals—I know that was a big deal when I came here so many times. I’d come, I’d get a journal, I’d get a book to sort of open my mind... Yachats is such a transformative place to relax and think about the world a little differently, and bring that home with you. So that’s why I wanted to have some journals. I think they’re all lined, for writing. [...] And I’ve always collected Tarot cards, and now I’m starting to sell my collection. Lots of fun stuff!
TYG: Thank you so much for your time!
Fred: Thank you, Allen! It’s been a fun time!
Tracie: Thank you!
Interview with Starla Gade
Starla Gade [pronounced “Gay-dee”] is the owner and main chef at Stargazer’s Gourmet.
TYG: So when are you going to be open?
Starla: Well, they’re remodeling in the Antique Virgin and bead store. We’re not a separate store—we’re going to just have some of our product line in their store. We’re waiting on the contractor to come in to do the remodeling. It was supposed to start last Monday, and it hasn’t happened yet. I’m hoping that it’s all done by the end of March.
TYG: So that’s when you expect to be open—end of March, beginning of April?
TYG: So—what do you sell at Stargazer?
Starla: Chocolates, caramels, fudge, biscotti—pretty much anything with chocolate in it. Chocolate-covered pretzels, chocolate-covered marshmallows, caramels and marshmallow covered in chocolate, lots of different things like that. Sweet treats from the beach. I’m also going to do some dog treats—dipped in carob, for dogs.
TYG: Good call, the chocolate.
Starla: I know, right? I love chocolate! We offer a huge variety of fudges. In fact, I’m trying to figure out the fudge of the month for March, so I would like to get your feedback. These are your three choices. For March, it’s Saint Patrick’s Day, so you might think of mint — we’re going to offer a chocolate mint fudge swirl. Or, I was thinking a gold mine fudge —chocolate fudge with caramel and peanuts. And the other choice is pistachio fudge.
TYG: I’d have to go with the mint.
Starla: The mint—okay.
TYG: I’d assume that’s probably the most popular choice.
Starla: You know, it’s kind of split between the mint and the caramel gold mine.
TYG: Personally, I’m not a big caramel fan.
TYG: Yeah. But my mom is. She’d go with gold mine all the way.
Starla: [laughs] That’s a woman after my own heart. Caramel. But it’s gotta be dark chocolate.
Starla: Almost everything I make is out of dark chocolate. I have some milk chocolate, but I hardly use it. I’ll do it when people ask for special things. We’re also doing some cool little gift things — for some bed-and-breakfast places we’re making some specialty mint chocolate, for them to give to their guests, and biscotti, and things like that, which is kind of fun.
TYG: What gave you the idea to open this shop, and have you been open elsewhere?
Starla: Originally, I opened a candy store in Montana, with my Dad—a long time ago, like 15 years ago. I enjoyed that a lot, but then I moved on to do other things. Then I got involved in political activism work, and we also did our own small salsa business.
TYG: Political activism—a good career. I mean, the United States people do not do enough to influence politics.
Starla: [laughs] They could all start by voting.
TYG: So—why Yachats?
Starla: Why NOT Yachats! It is beautiful! I grew up in San Diego, so I grew up at the beach, but I love Montana and all the mountains and the trees…
TYG: …And here they’re both here.
Starla: Exactly! When they say, “the forest meets the sea” here, it’s so true! So I’m just totally in my element. When I came here a year and a half ago, this was the area that I fell in love with. I thought it was really beautiful, and I love the people here—they’re really friendly and nice, and I figured I’d do something fun.
TYG: So, tell me about yourself!
Starla: Well, I raised my four kids on my own for the last 20-some-odd years, so being a single mom was a big job for me, and that was what I devoted most of my time to. I am blessed—I’ve got great kids, two of whom went to college. One of them went and got her degree in political science — she was the first one in our family ever to go to college, which was pretty exciting for me. My youngest son just graduated from the University of Montana—he’s got his degree in Media Arts, and is actually working in his field, at the university, which is pretty exciting.
TYG: Okay, that’s pretty cool—that you can actually get a job in your field, at your home university.
Starla: I know, right! Plus he’s making all kinds of great stuff—they create educational video games and stuff like that.
TYG-Editorial Assistant: How long have you been here?
Starla: A year now, actually! I came out here from Montana, where I decided to run away from home. We did some of the farmers’ markets last year, late in the summer, more like fall—that’s when we started doing the chocolates. I broke my ankle really bad last year. I broke my fibula, dislocated my ankle, and tore a tendon, and had to have...
TYG: ...Tearing tendons is bad—they don’t regenerate easily.
Starla: Isn’t that the truth—a year later, and I’m still doing physical therapy.
TYG: How do you predict the business will go at Antique Virgin?
Starla: I’m looking forward to seeing how it goes. I’m building this business slowly. We’re doing local farmers’ markets, and local events like the spring Yachats Arts and Crafts Fair [March 21-22, at Yachats Commons], and we’re also doing some shows, like Spirit Mountain Casino invited us for their Chocolate Decadence event. And we’re wanting to get into one or two local retail stores here in Yachats first, and see how it goes, and if it works well, we’ll expand, maybe. I’m not looking to be a big chocolate place—I want to make enough money to support myself and to be able to provide small batches of handmade, quality product—because that’s really important to me.
TYG: That’s what every shop owner dreams of—small shop owner, that is.
Starla: That’s right—that is what every small shop owner dreams of. For me what’s important is doing it small, keeping it local, and just having a good time with it.