Local ‘treasure hunters’ seek their fortunes

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Braving the rain, dozens of collectors and hobbyists stopped by Andalusia’s Comfort Inn on Tuesday afternoon to see if they had any valuables that could fetch a pretty penny at the “Treasure Hunters Roadshow.”

“We saw it in the newspaper,” said John Stephens of Andalusia, who brought his wife, Eva, and daughter, Kimberly, to the show. “We had a few coins and thought we’d see what they were worth, in addition to their face value.”

Jeffery Williamson of Gantt also brought a collection of coins, including a half-pound silver proof. Williamson, who said he used to own an antique shop, also had some unique items, including a World War I-era bomb casing.

“I’ve mainly just brought some coins today,” he said. “I’ve got all kinds of stuff at home, though. I’ve got a collection of bar signs from the 1930s — a bunch of antique signs. I’ve just kind of collected them over the years.”

Show manager Jesse Price said even though Tuesday was only the first day of the weeklong show, local citizens had already brought in some interesting items.

“We’ve had a couple of guitars,” he said. “One of the old Gibson guitars that was brought in sold for around $5,000. Obviously, we’ve had a large number of people come in with coins that they’ve either collected themselves, or inherited.

“We’ve had some items from various wars. You never really know what’s going to come through that door, and that’s what makes this job fun.”

The show continues today through Friday from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Treasure Hunters Roadshow is a national company headquartered in Springfield, Ill.

“We’ve probably got about 50 different teams that go all across the U.S.,” Price said. “We’ve been a growing company, which is hard to do in this current economy. One of the biggest reasons we’ve been successful is through positive word-of-mouth. I’d say at least 50 percent of our customers each week are either repeat customers, or referrals.”

Price said the company is able to offer competitive prices because it owns its own refineries and doesn’t have to worry about shipping costs.

“You can come right in and talk face-to-face with someone,” he said. “You don’t have to mail anything in. We want to make the experience as comfortable and profitable as we can, for our customers.”