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Thursday, May 30, 2024

Treasure Hunting

Polen’s Antique Shak is a haven for vintage fans.

Polen’s Antique Shak in the tiny Spencer County community of Gentryville, Indiana, is a long-known destination for pickers and dealers from miles around.

Photo of Tim Polen by Laura Mathis

Owner Tim Polen’s large collection of vintage and antique items, from furniture and glassware to collectibles and ephemera, has stood the test of time. And it’s always been a family endeavor.

Tim’s father, Tom, mother, Edith, and grandparents loved buying and selling. Tim recalls that in his youth, he bid $2 at an auction he attended with his grandparents. He wound up bringing home a little red chair and was hooked.

By high school, Tim was buying truckloads at auctions and reselling them for a tidy profit.

“My favorite thing to do was go to auc-tions, sometimes 7 to 10 times a week,” Tim says. “It was just fun … we enjoyed doing it. I’ve been around it my entire life.”

Photo by Laura Mathis

Tom, who worked as a postal carrier, started Polen’s Antique Shak about 60 years ago. Edith helped at the store and continued until her passing at age 93 in 2015, but Tim largely took over the business after his father’s death at age 71 in 1989.

Underlying the family’s love of antiquing, Tim’s sister, Susan Schroeder, once ran another store across the street. That business has been closed for many years, but Schroeder still has items for sale at antique and vendor malls in the area.

Old-school to the core, Tim says he doesn’t like how auctions have become an online business for some. He still prefers going to them himself.

Photo by Laura Mathis

“The adrenaline is going to an auction and bidding live, that’s what I’ve always liked about it,” Tim says.

Polen’s Antique Shak is open from noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays, at 204 Main St. in Gentryville, and Tim says it’s worth the trip for treasure hunters to browse his vast inventory.

“Everybody should see it at least once,” he says. “And come back again if they really like it.”

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Maggie Valenti
Maggie Valenti
Maggie Valenti joined Tucker Publishing Group in September 2022 as a staff writer. She graduated from Gettysburg College in 2020 with a bachelors degree in English. A Connecticut native, Maggie has ridden horses for 15 years and has hunt seat competition experience on the East Coast.

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