Cline’s Country Antiques: farm, junkyard, antique store? All of the above
Posted on 8 Nov 2012 by Carlos Lopez
If you are driving down Highway 49 in Mount Pleasant, N.C. and you pass Cline’s Antiques, you might think it’s a farm. Then again, you might also mistake it for a junk yard. Other than the old faded wooden sign out on the edge of the road that says Cline’s Antiques, there isn’t much to convince passersby otherwise
If you stop and drive down the long gravel driveway, behind a large chain link fence is a small, gray, air-conditioned shack with a flat roof and windows all the way around. It looks like an old guard shack. On its side is the word “office” made out of pieces of duct tape, and a concave metal awning over a door with a worn brass knob.
Don Cline says his store is open Thursday through Saturday. Pronouncing them thursdee and saturdee. His gentle accent gives away the fact that he grew up in the South. It’s a business day so Cline can most likely be found in the shack in an old chair transplanted perhaps from an old dentist’s office or barbershop. He wears faded jeans, and boots that look as if they have a story of their own. A red hat sits on his explosion of grey hair that runs down his face turning effortlessly into a beard. Cline wears glasses but he doesn’t need them to see. They balance precariously on the bridge of his nose, daring to fall off but they don’t.
The 6-foot tall 71-year-old is eclectic to say the least. Before selling antiques, he studied to get his first degree in poultry science. He then began the coursework for a doctorate degree at the University of Tennessee but never finished because he never wrote a dissertation. “I liked going to school, but I despised doing academic research,” he says reclining in the chair. He moved back to a farmhouse on his father’s land in the early ‘70s and was teaching economics at a local college.
The house had no heat or air so he bought antique wood heaters for himself. They were cheap. So cheap that he could afford to keep buying them and stockpile them in an old barn. When the energy crisis in the 70s came around, wood burning heaters became popular and he seized the opportunity. “All I had to do was put an ad in the paper selling heaters,” he recalls “They weren’t available anymore so I was able to name my price”. By 1980, Cline quit teaching altogether and hung a sign on the edge of the road welcoming anyone interested in buying antiques.
He calls his inventory junk, and he calls junk inventory. To him the words are interchangeable; it’s all the same with the only difference being how you look at it. Every couple minutes someone is sure to stop by the shack, hold something up to the window, and wait for Don to give his price. There is no haggling here. “We do a lot of business with people from all over the country, and I should say from all over the world, I reckon”. Dealers come to buy from him to resell at their store, and Cline’s has provided some props for movies like “The Color Purple”. The clientele range from Hollywood, to local dealers, and even magazines from Europe.
Cline’s may be an antique store but mostly everything is outside. Be reminded: the place was once a farm, so items that need shelter from the elements are stored in barns, and the place is littered with them. Each one dedicated to a specific type of antique: doors, signs, furniture, horse-drawn farm equipment, and much more. Boxes bought from a recent estate sale are stacked up and remain unopened. A table near the entrance has an eerie display of row upon row of white hands. Under that same table are several old rusty tricycles and an old train set missing several boxcars. If you are curious, intrepid, and do not mind getting dirty, you can find some serious treasure at Cline’s.
Cline’s Country Antiques is located at 11839 Highway 49 North, Mount Pleasant, NC 28124. The store is open Thursday to Saturday, from 8 AM to 6 PM.