Antiques, furniture and a rainy day conversation

Published 10:00 pm Monday, April 27, 2015

Miss Charlotte Hall and Kim Karaman

Miss Charlotte Hall and Kim Karaman

Braving some dreary, wet weather, I approach Landrum Antiques & Furniture Co. on E. Rutherford St. in downtown Landrum. Noticing the variety of objects displayed on the sidewalk in front of the store, I know this will be an interesting place to visit. I’m meeting with Kim Karaman, the owner of the shop, and Charlotte Hall, who has been selling antiques for many years, even before she started working with Kim.

Kim is in the process of exciting renovations. Ladders and paint buckets adorn the aisles while I’m there and she explains some of her plans.

“We want to bring in some new furniture and show how antiques can blend with even the latest styles. We’re going to de-clutter a bit,” she smiles. “And with the ‘Downton Abbey’ trend currently in fashion, we’ll highlight some Victorian pieces.”

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Kim is originally from Fort Worth, Texas. Her route to South Carolina began when she moved to Oklahoma and became involved in the oil and gas industry as a petroleum landman.

“This career took me from Oklahoma to Michigan and then Ohio, where I met my husband, Mike, in a Laundromat,” she laughs.

After her husband’s company transferred them to Tryon, N.C., she fell in love with the mountains. “It looked like paradise to me,” she reminisces. In an unexpected way, it was coming home. Kim’s fourth great grandfather was the first governor of the Chickasaw Nation and was part of the Trail of Tears that led the Cherokees, Chickasaws and Creeks to Oklahoma away from their ancestral homes in the Carolinas, Mississippi and Alabama.

In July, 1999, Kim was scouting out a business for a friend and happened upon the Landrum Antique Mall. She relates the story.

“My husband and I visited the shop and decided this was the business for us. We didn’t know antiques, but it was intriguing. There were about 50 vendors in the mall at that time. Over the years, we’ve narrowed it down to about five. We were lucky to inherit Doug Morgan and Charlotte with the business, which allowed us to run things from afar for 10 years. Kim and Mike moved back to Tryon in 2010.

Kim said that I should be interviewing Miss Charlotte, as she is known to all her loyal customers. She has been the face of the shop for many years. Charlotte greets everyone with a smile, and knows many of the collectors who have been long time customers. I am immediately curious about a silver neckpiece that she is wearing. “It was a sterling silver, Victorian belt buckle and I made it into a favorite necklace,” she tells me.

Charlotte became fascinated with antiques many years ago when she sold some toys to an antique dealer.

“My mother died when I was young.  She loved antiques, so I think it was ingrained in me. My motto is ‘helping to preserve America’s past.’ So many people just discard things these days. Sometimes I buy a piece to sell but fall in love with it and keep it myself,” she chuckles.  “This happened with a large 1800s cupboard that had belonged to the Cleveland family in Spartanburg. It was so big it took four men to lay it down and take it through our patio door,” she remembers. “And right now there’s an 1800s chest sitting here that is a favorite of mine. It might be the next thing to go. I could save it for my granddaughter.”

We continue to chat about antiques and discover we both collect primitives. She loves mahogany pieces but doesn’t own any. I glance out the window and notice a let up in the downpour. I quickly gather up my things and hurriedly say some goodbyes. Landrum Antiques & Furniture is the perfect rainy day place to spend hours exploring all the rooms filled with interesting pieces. And it’s always fun to shop in fairer weather. A sunny day makes it easier to load furniture.

By Linda List