By Katie Demeria
FRONT ROYAL -- Sonny Leathers and Rachel Bond call it blue collar antiquing.
The treasures in The Rusty Den, which opened at the end of March, would not be out of place in an old farmhouse or rustic barn -- in fact, many of the items likely came from similar places.
Leathers and Bond did not want their business, located at 130 East Main St., to resemble a traditional antique shop. Rather, they wanted it to be accessible, a place that local residents can enter without feeling intimidated and make a purchase at a reasonable price.
"We want it to be cool and a lot of fun," Bond said.
The fun side, Bond added, is usually taken care of -- the couple keep vintage toys from the 1980s and earlier, as well as lunch boxes.
"People get so excited when they see them," she said.
And the store boasts a substantial collection of antique military items as well, thanks to Leathers' expansive knowledge of all things military -- he served in Iraq, but was injured in 2011. Hopefully, he said, if the business goes well, he will not have to return.
Bonds and Leathers plan on giving back to veterans in celebration of Purple Heart Day on Aug. 7, as well. Ten percent of their sales will go toward the charities Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and Homes for our Troops throughout the entire month of August.
The store also features a solid collection of keys, coins, antique cameras and jewelry. The couple frequently receive signs, too, like a rare Keystone sign currently on sale for $800, as well as old farm equipment and furniture.
Right now they have a barber pole that had been on Pennsylvania Avenue during the 1930s, according to Bond.
"The learning process never stops," she said. "We may think we know everything about something, and then find out so much more."
And the prices, they added, are always reasonable. The lunch boxes range from $10 to $15, depending on how rare they are, and turquoise rings are usually priced between $25 and $35.
Leathers and Bond buy items from individuals who bring antiques to them.
"People will always come in and say, 'You have to come out and see this,'" Bond said.
The couple also spend a great deal of time at local flea markets and yard sales, searching for treasures.
Leathers does not operate on a consignment basis, but he said one of his longtime goals is to open a pawn shop in order to give local residents a fair price for their items and help them out if they are in financial trouble.
He also wants to eventually get his precious metals license so he can buy and sell gold and silver -- again, to make sure people get a fair price.
"It's really not about the money," Leathers said. "If I see a kid that really wants a toy but the parents won't buy it, I'll usually just give him the toy."
The business itself is going very well, the couple said. They go through quite a bit of stock. Bond said the store has radically changed several times since they opened because they are selling so much. They will have many days during which they will sell $2,000 worth of items.
"It's been so much fun," Bond said.
The store is open from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.
To learn more, visit www.facebook.com/therustydenllc.
Contact staff writer Katie Demeria at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or email@example.com