Wednesday, December 21, 2011
It will be a Christmas miracle if East Brainerd resident Phillip Clark gets to wake up in his own bed and spend the holiday with his family.
Owner of the Speckled Egg consignment and vintage store, he has vowed to man the store round the clock until all his previous inventory is sold. He has a little more than 5,000 items to go.
“When I leave is up to the public,” said Clark, who’s already spent more than a month sleeping on a makeshift pallet on the cold, hard floor, taking showers out of the bathroom sink and eating what his wife brings him. “The more they buy the quicker I get home.
“I’ve already missed my birthday, Thanksgiving, all of it, and probably Christmas and New Year’s too,” he added.
His family has started a “Bring Phillip Home for Christmas” campaign.
“I kept thinking, ‘I’ve got to get people’s attention,’” Clark said. “This time of year our sales drop because the big box stores beat our brains out. We’re a small store. We’re just trying to make something out of nothing is all we’re doing.”
The word “everything” as opposed to “nothing” is a better indicator of the store’s selection. Decorative lamps, carefully selected knickknacks, artistic works in various mediums, antique furniture and furnishings and vintage clothing and jewelry fill the East Brainerd Road store to the ceiling.
“I’m a picker,” Clark said. “I will knock on any door anywhere at any time if I see something I like and want to sell.”
His prices range from $1 to $6,000, and he always tries to give consignors, many of whom come from surrounding neighborhoods like Council Fire, Hurricane Creek and Windstone, a fair price, he said. A sign at the front of the store advises shoppers that, “If you don’t like the price, always make an offer. Worst case scenario, we say no; best, you walk out with what you want.”
“A lot of stuff has moved out. I sold a dress at 1 in the morning,” said Clark. “I’ve made some good deals. I want to clear out the store.”
His highest priced item is a certificate signed by Woodrow Wilson and other leaders presented to a man at the close of World War I. Clark recently sold a reunion medal for J.H. Gilman, who fired one of the first shots of the Civil War, to a man from a museum in Nashville, he said.
“You know that story they [consignors] tell you — where it came from and how long they’ve had it — that’s what I live for,” said Clark, who was inspired to open the store after seeing a “perfectly good” chair on the side of the road, reminding him of being 10 years old and being ecstatic over being allowed to keep a downed traffic light if he hauled it all the way home.
“That’s part of the reason I got into this; you hear this over and over, ‘The kids don’t want it,’” he said. “I want people to be interested in old things so they don’t end up in the dump or gone. You put something on the Internet and somebody in Germany buys it. More and more of our heritage is being shipped overseas.”