Dealer Feature: Nebraska’s CJ’s Antiques Coolest Store in Chappell!

 By Jon DeStefano
 Eric Wingate has been in Chappell, Nebraska  for a little over 22 years. Soon after he arrived he started his own antique shop which he calls CJ’s named after his wife Celeste.  Prior to that he was laying the groundwork for taking on such a venture.
 Born in Akron, Ohio, he moved to Denver in 1959.  He started working with antiques in the early 70s in New Franklin, Missouri. In the mid-eighties he started going to antique shows like the World Wide Antique Show and many others in Denver.  His Dad and he had an antique shop which his Dad ran. Eric and his wife ran a stripping and refinishing shop nearby that supplied all the furniture to his Dad. Together they supplied the furniture for the Old Spaghetti Factory and a lot of other places in downtown Denver, including numerous hotels and offices.
 In addition to his antique-related occupations, Eric tried his hand at many other businesses. He was the theatre manager for Common Wealth Theaters. He managed the Victory Theatre “until the ball took it down.” He ran the Oriental,  the Federal, the Gothic and numerous others.
 Eric went to Golden High School in Colorado. He says, “It’s funny— I now live in this little town of Chappell in Nebraska which has about 400 people and there are 4 people here that I know who went to Golden High School including one of my classmates. His Colorado connections includes having lived on Lookout Mountain his senior year. And, now, his son lives in Thornton. So there is a strong attachment to Colorado.
 CJ’s Antiques started out with just two rooms. And now it is quite a bit larger. Eric doesn’t do shows any more and doesn’t use the internet. He just does walk-ins. My customers include people who come from all over. I’ve had people here from  Las Vegas, Sweden, Wisconsin, South Africa., everywhere. Most people come in the summer on Highway 30 which is nicknamed the Lincoln Highway. It starts in San Francisco and goes to New York. people buy at the shops along the way.”
 “This year has been a little slower than usual because of the cost of gas but it’s picking up now that gas prices are coming down. People are experiencing cabin fever and they are moving around again.”
 Eric’s great inventory has a little bit of everything. It ranges from razor straps to hundreds of amazing pictures and original photos “mostly quality, real photos, more than all the shops in Nebraska put together.”
 CJ’S has giant brass balls which were used to close and open water pumps and control flow of water. “I  have lots of automobile stuff including bumpers, steering wheels all kinds of things like a beautiful a 55 Ford bumper, a ’63 Ford grill.
 You can find some amazing large collections at CJs, too. He has an outstanding Coca Cola collection, model car collectibles from all the car shows throughout the country, promo collectibles from old car shows, old t.v. lamps, tons of cast iron pots and pans and great antique tools.
 The list of items for sale include boxes of auto and tractor literature, promo  machinery literature, a lot of old magazines, including some of my favorite issues of Mad magazines. There is also old a lot of old hardware, handles and door knobs, hinges, tins, and oil cans. The amount of old quality metal toys and fire trucks is extensive. There are over 500 pieces of M&M collectibles, tons of signs in hallways  and even a room for lights and light fixtures. room. He also has numerous paintings, pictures and gifts from Indian gift shops. There are salt and pepper shakers, a couple of glass rooms, filled with Corning Ware, Pyrex and Fire King. And hundreds of classic Vinyl records.
CJ’s is amazing. A trip to CJ’s in Chappell, Nebraska is a visit to a must-see memory lane.

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