Back in May 1997, Roger Snyder, his wife, Jan, and a group of other couples opened Apple Hill Antiques in College Township. The space at 105 Gerald St. had previously been a roller rink, a business school, a church. An antiques shop, of all things, would be something new.
It was around the time when Snyder, then a research engineer at Penn State, was looking to retire. Until then, it was the only job he had after graduating from the university.
“It was a great experience,” Snyder said. “I loved what I did.”
While working for Penn State in 1973, Snyder was contacted by a colleague who wanted his antiques appraised. For the engineer, it cemented a love for the art.
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He’s been appraising ever since.
“It’s a fun business because you’re always learning something new,” he said.
During May, the shop is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a number of events. From 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, the store is hosting a book signing by local author Peggy Hartman, who wrote “Antiques to Die For,” a mystery thriller. A silent auction is scheduled for 5 p.m. Saturday, May 20.
More events can be found at Apple Hill Antiques Facebook page.
Below, Snyder, 82, shared what it meant to be celebrating two decades in business.
Q: To what do you attribute your success?
A: I think being very honest with people, giving them all and any information they needed. We like to educate people. They get all kinds of information from the roadshows, “American Pickers,” all shows that are great to watch. But they don’t always understand that things are regional, prices are regional and they don’t have enough information from these shows to know what it is they have compared to what they have seen on TV.
Q: How did you and Jan end up in State College?
A: We came here as freshmen in 1953 and essentially decided Happy Valley was a great place. Both of us came from opposite ends of the state. Jan came from the Pittsburgh area and I came from the Philadelphia area.
Q: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned over your career?
A: You must be scrupulously honest with people and be of high integrity. Have I lost sales because of that? Sure. But I can’t be any other way, and we encourage all our dealers to be as honest (as possible) and give people more information than they ever wanted.
Twenty-five years ago I thought I was pretty hot stuff; I thought I knew a lot about antiques. The more I’m in the business, the more I realize that there are areas that I never really knew about. But you have to be open to learn new things and accept information from people. Usually my advice to people is if you’re buying in an antique shop, listen to what the dealer is telling you but you don’t have to accept it as gospel. You’ve got to do your own research. But listen to everything, take it all in and assimilate the data.