Antique Station in Refugio a place of knickknacks and other trinkets
Aug. 30, 2014 at 3 p.m.
REFUGIO - There is a way to browse Jeff Brittain's Antique Station.
One must walk through the building slowly, checking out the auto shop turned antique store high, low and everywhere in between.
The business is on U.S. Highway 77 in Refugio.
The building is easy to spot; just look for the metal bulls, horny toads and other eccentric yard art.
This is Brittain's home away from home.
"What's really interesting to me is to find out the history of the piece," he said.
The business opened July 1, 2003, after Brittain retired from the oil field.
Years before that, when he and his wife had time off, they would travel to estate sales searching for anything that piqued their interest.
"We collected stuff knowing we wanted to have a store one day," he said.
At first, he and his wife started with antiques, but weeks into the business, they realized people wanted more.
"I figured antiques wasn't going to pay the bills," he said, adding that four antique stores were in Refugio at the time.
With thousands of motorists traveling through Refugio daily, customers file in from all over the world - from Brownsville to Germany.
That's when Brittain decided he would go to Mexico and purchase metal works of art. It was an instant hit.
Patty Lewis, who works the Juneteenth celebration, has been in the shop before and enjoys the random selection of merchandise.
She has also met Brittain, who donated an item for the celebration in 2013.
"It's just a lot of stuff that you can't find anywhere," she said. "A lot of random things."
The shop has anything from antique silverware to ceramics of all sorts.
In addition to the merchandise he occasionally bought from estate sales, he now had these interesting pieces of art.
The most popular has been metal dachshunds, but perhaps the biggest seller has been the metal bulls, which are actually barbecue pits, he said.
The bulls weigh about 250 pounds and cost about $650 each. He sells about 45 a year.
That speaks volumes, considering some days he sits in his office all day without one customer stopping by. What also makes his business interesting, he said, is that although it is in Refugio, hardly anyone from town stops by.
It's a shop for travelers, he said. "People want to take a little Texas with them."