Mike's - N - Gayle's Toys and Joys Antiques


Were we surprised the first weekend in November when we awoke to the sound of more than pittering and pattering on our roof?  Not at all.  It was Metrolina Expo Marketplace weekend and we were determined to give it another try.  So it was no surprise to us that Mother Nature decided to unleash a multitude of slow-moving heavily laden rain clouds our way.  After stopping for his usual portable breakfast (yes, even in the pouring rain), the Great One maneuvered his way through the downpour.  As most of the sane folks in the area had rolled back over in their nice dry beds, we had very little company on the road. 

Pulling into the parking lot, we realized that we have never arrived at the Metrolina on a pretty sunshiny day.  When we attended a coin show here years ago, Mother Nature greeted us by conjuring up a windstorm, which practically blew us back out of the parking lot.  Since then, we have tried the Marketplace event a few times and every time, the parking lot looks like a duck’s paradise.  Picking our way around the puddles proved to be an exercise in futility and made us wish we owned galoshes, but since we normally don’t have to brave the elements (except when we want to), we are ill-equipped for such occasions.  Of course, we could have just stayed home, but what fun would that be?

Arriving at the gate, there was a lull in the rain so we decided to check out the outdoor vendor tents while we had the chance.  There were still pudgy gray clouds looming just above waiting to wring themselves out over the area.  Right off the bat, the Great One found some crates and with profound restraint, walked away with just one, which necessitated a trip back to the truck – for him – I just kept on looking.  A gorgeous art deco console radio looking for a new home caught my eye, but as we still have more than our fair share in the garage, we admired her beauty and went on our way.

Inside we came across the Cork Dork with her ever expanding line of recycled wine cork boards, trivets, etc. in her usual booth near the door.  Mike’s-N-Gayle’s Toys and Joys Antiques, got our attention next.  Among her many treasures, Gayle has mini vintage Made in Japan cameras  and a Made In Occupied Japan cigarette lighter that looks like a mini camera.  Having lost so many family members to lung cancer, we stay away from smoking-related items.  So, unique as it is, it couldn’t come home with us.  Looking in Mike’s toy booth on previous occasions as well, we have noticed, his stock is ever changing.  If you don’t find something you just have to have this time, he’ll have something for you next time.

Along the way, we happened upon Robert Kurschner of Sterling Treasures.  His chandeliers that sparkle and shine were hard to miss and drew us towards his booth, where we found beautiful crystal and fine china.  As he and the Great One had a lot in common (a past that included food industry sales), we spent a good bit of time with him.  He shared his belief that the “good stuff” should be used and enjoyed, not hidden away in a cabinet.  So if you have fine china and crystal you’re not using, maybe you should call him.   Seeing as I have safeguarded my china and crystal for over 40 years now, maybe it is time to bring it out and enjoy it.

In Nostalgia That Works, we found John Mode, radio aficionado, who enjoys restoring and refurbishing old radios.  He had some really beautiful ones on display, all of which worked.  While we have a garage full of old turntables and parts, about the only thing of interest to him would be a Zenith Cobramatic toner arm.  We haven’t found any Zeniths yet, but If ever we do. . .

Space-related toys and banks have become an obsession (one of many) for the Great One so when he came across 3 Louis Marx & Co. Inc. plastic spacemen made in 1970 following the July 20, 1969 Apollo Moon Landing, I knew he wasn’t going to walk away from them and he didn’t.  But I did have to talk him into the Schylling Collector Series Rocket Ride Carousel toy, a perfect tie-in for his space collection – no batteries needed.

Weather aside, it was our best Metrolina Expo Marketplace experience yet.  We had a good time, met some interesting people and went home with a few treasured items.  And last but not least, there was the kettle corn on the way out for the ride home.  Unlike movie theater popcorn, this kettle corn tastes as good as it smells. 


Even though our fall visit to the Metrolina Expo Marketplace was a bit disappointing, we chalked it up to the horrible weather and decided to give the Metrolina Expo Marketplace Spring Event a shot.  Looking at the weather forecast for the 4-day show, we chose Friday, supposedly the best Mother Nature had to offer, a beautiful early spring day with plenty of sunshine heading our way and no rain in sight.  Do I hear a Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah?   

Because of inclement weather in the fall, the outdoor vendors weren’t able to set up and the vendors in the mall area weren’t much better off than if they had been in tents out in the open.  So we were glad to see sunshine and blue skies as we turned into the parking lot.  Definitely, we were not the only ones who had checked the weekend forecast. There were going to be plenty of shoppers spending money today.  

So we paid the obligatory $20 and started our quest searching with the outdoor vendors just in case Mother Nature decided to throw a little rain our way.  However, she was kind to us and although she huffed and puffed some gusty winds, the tents remained standing and nothing blew away.  Even without a mirror, I could tell it was going to be one of those days when I wish I was a hat person, but then I would have spent the entire afternoon chasing down the hat instead of treasures.  I did notice I was not the only bedraggled-looking soul who was trying to avoid mirrors.

We didn’t have to search too long before we found the cutest little pair of Made In Occupied Japan ceramic kids playing baseball and so we made our first purchase of the day.  This vendor also had some really beautiful end tables made from the drawers of old Singer sewing machines, so we got a little inspiration along with the ballplayers.  Eventually at another booth, we found MIOJ mini vase and that was pretty much the extent of our purchases for the day – unless you count the cinnamon/sugar almonds and the kettle corn on the way out.

More importantly, we spent a good bit of time talking with quite a few of the vendors.  We started off with Mike of Mike’s – N – Gayle’s Toys And Joys Antiques.  He was there in the fall and the Great One bought a dime bank from him.  It is one of the few banks he has that came with a key.  I was flabbergasted when he passed up the opportunity to bring home the motorized Richie Rich Computer Bank from the 60s along with the original box.  Will wonders never cease?

After we left Mike, we found a clock guy and I am more than ashamed to say I cannot, for the life of me, remember his name.  He was so generous with his time, knowing full well that we weren’t going to be paying customers, he still took the time to answer all of our questions.  His obsession with clocks started as a stress-relieving hobby and just kind of got out of hand.  He has restored and repaired clocks of all sizes, styles and makes.  And then and he told us about his radio.  We could have spent the rest of the day talking with him, but we figured he did have a booth to run and finally left him alone so he could sell some clocks. 

We appreciate all of the information he shared and only wish he had not given up the restoration part of his business.  We’ve become attached to a certain Seth Thomas clock that we would love to get restored for its owner.  After a few years in the garage, when I gently brushed away the cobwebs, I was surprised to see that it still looked like a clock inside.  It’s missing a bell and a pendulum and needs some keys for the winding mechanisms, but we’re hoping it can be brought back to life.       

As far as our overall assessment of our Metrolina Expo experiences – I guess we just must not be Expo kind of people.  However, there sure seem to be a lot of vendors and shoppers out there who return time and again, so they must be doing something right.