Editor’s note: This story is part of the Eat, Play, Live special section.
As owner Brian Herman says, “There’s nothing too weird or unusual for here.”
Herman, 44, owns The Great Mish Mosh, a store of “eclectic finds, home decorations and accessories” located at 128 S. Allegheny St. in Bellefonte. As he suggested, the store may also at times be home to the occasional strange or unusual item as well.
While a quick perusal of the shop’s stock will reveal tables, cabinets, radios and record players — most dating back to the mid-20th century — Herman said some memorable pieces have come across his counter in the three years the store has been open. Coffins, a headhunter’s spear, antique medical equipment and even a tray of teeth were once part of the store’s numerous items for purchase.
Herman said he’s been working with antiques since he was a child helping his best friend and friend’s family with their auction company.
“By accident and hanging out with him, I learned the business,” he said.
After working as a sales representative for a large Pennsylvania company, he said, he was relocated from the Allentown area to central Pennsylvania. He enjoyed the area so much, and was so stressed from his current job, that he decided to quit and go into business for himself “and be twice as stressed out.”
Pieces, ranging from practical to decoration, fill the ground floor, with space for vendors to rent on the second. Herman said keeping the store stocked isn’t too difficult, especially for someone who is familiar with the business.
A lot of people in the area are downsizing, he said, moving from 5,000-square-foot homes to 1,000-square-foot retirement units and need an outlet to sell their things. He also travels across the state, visiting estate auctions and hunting through collections.
There seems to be a resurgence in antiques, he said, thanks mainly to reality television. The quality of furniture made today is also suspect — a person can spend thousands of dollars on a bedroom set that will only last about five years.
“This stuff is already 80 or 90 years old,” he said. “It will last forever.”
But the charm of the store remains in the unusual and the fun.
A lot of antique stores act like museums — everything is so high priced, it won’t move. We’re here to sell stuff.
Owner Brian Herman
“This isn’t a museum,” Herman said. “A lot of antique stores act like museums — everything is so high priced, it won’t move. We’re here to sell stuff.”
It’s not unusual to sell 50 pieces as soon as they’re brought in, he said. He advised to visit the store each week because if something cool comes in, it won’t last very long.
There are a few amazing pieces for people who know what they’re looking for, he said. Currently in stock is a Fritz Hansen set of chairs valued at about $12,000.
While items like that probably won’t sell locally, he said, it could go to a buyer as far away as Los Angeles.
College students looking for furniture are also finding out about the store, he said. Though a pricier item like the chairs will go to an outside buyer, his clientele remains strongly local.