LEBANON — When Mike and Shirley White made the decision to retire from the furniture business this spring, it was a bit of a hurried decision.
The longtime owners of Hometown Furniture in Lebanon had welcomed a new grandchild and realized they wanted to spend more time with their family and less time running the business.
Four months later, Mike White is convinced they made the right decision.
“There’s absolutely no question,” White said.
The recent closing sale at both the main location and at the auxiliary store across the street went very smoothly, White said. The secondary location, which handled their mattress business and their clearance inventory, sold out within a couple of months. The main location sold out of its inventory in September.
That left only the extensive antique collection. A preview day was held on Friday, Sept. 21, and the auction was held on Saturday, Sept. 22.
People came from around the state, and even further, to attend the sale.
“We’ve got people flying in from southern California and the East Coast,” White said.
The antiques for sale included musical instruments, wagons, boats and many classic cars from as early as the 1920s. The most unusual item for sale may have been the front porch from the former Oregon State Insane Asylum in Salem.
One of the cars in the collection was a 1934 American Austin. This compact vehicle drew the eye of Art and Anne Engen, who drove down from their home in McMinnville for the preview.
“It looks like you could take it out on a trip today,” Art Engen said.
White said that isn’t far from the truth.
“I put the battery charge on it and it fired right up,” White said.
The Engens learned of the sale because they are familiar with the auction house which handled the event, Nielsens Auctions and Antiques, which is based in Amity.
“We wanted to see what was here,” Art Engen said. “It would be terrible to see pictures and think we should have been here.”
The Engens were unsure if they would be bidding on any items, but they enjoyed browsing the collection.
Dan Lutz, also of McMinnville, attended the preview and was impressed by the very large Coca-Cola sign. He said it was much too large to fit in his home.
“I could maybe re-do the outside of the house,” Lutz joked. “Someone who collects Coca-Cola (mementos) would give their eye teeth for that.”
Even larger was the double-decker tour bus which dates to the 1940s. It was originally in service in England before being brought to the United States. According to White’s information, it was used for many yeas by the Benson Hotel in Portland.
Getting it into the furniture store required installation of a rolling door which extends very nearly to the ceiling.
With the inventory all sold, White can now turn his full attention to the future use of the properties. He said there has been substantial interest, but it was important to finalize the Hometown Furniture business before moving forward.
“They’re kind of waiting for us to get out of the way,” White said.
The Whites plan to remain in their home in Lacomb and potentially acquire more commercial property in Lebanon to lease out. He is certain his days of running his own retail business are over, as much as he loved playing that role in the community.
“It’s been a great town, good people,” White said.