Meet your Merchant: Love of the find keeps fueling owner of Past to Present 2nd Hand Store

Marie Davis jokes that running her business is a bit like Sisyphus and his boulder - even if it seems endless, she'll push her boulder until she's either victorious on the mountain or crushed beneath it at the base.

Past to Present 2nd Hand Store is her third go at that style store in Carson City, this time in a converted house packed with goods as varied as used sporting supplies and original artwork priced at $500.

"This is what I love doing," Davis said. "I love interacting with the customers, and I love finding unique treasures."

She said she likes to emphasize the treasures part of her wares and thinks of her business as more about collectibles and antiques than typical thrift-store goods, though her merchandise runs the gamut of it all.

Only about a fifth of her wares are even on display in the shop, she said. The rest is stored in the backyard or a trailer that's stuffed to the gills, meaning it sometimes becomes a hunt when a customer is looking for a specific item, she said. But for some customers, it's the hunt that thrills them.

"They're like, 'Can we go through the treasures also?'" Davis said, smiling.

Even if she can't find the item the customer is looking for in her collections of furniture, glassware, collectible toys and used electronics, Davis said she is unabashed about referring them to another second-hand store.

"I don't find I have competition," Davis said. "I refer people to other thrift stores and tell them, 'If you can't find it here, try these other places.' (There's) no reason we can't help each other.

"It doesn't take away my business. It helps another business succeed, like I want to do, and I hope they'll do the same."

She said her business has come under additional stress recently when the city forced her to take down a sign because it was more than 50 feet from her store, which sits about a block south of U.S. Highway 50 on Brown Street.

Losing the sign cut her business back dramatically, she said, causing her to ask for extra support, lest she falls to Sisyphus' rock.

She noted that she used to live on a neighboring lot when she first lived in Carson, a fact that wasn't lost on her son.

"This is where you started in this town," she recalled him saying, her eyes tearing up and voice cracking. "And this is where you're going to finish."

After showing off some of her goods, she continued.

"Eventually I'm going to get that rock up there and show people that we were successful," she said. "Or maybe the rock will end at the bottom of the hill and we'll have to wave the white flag."


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