When people come to visit our C.A.R.S facility they ask us – how did you acquire all this car, gas, oil and miscellaneous memorabilia, you must have been collecting a long time to have this much good stuff? Well, I say not really, it all started relatively simple. When we decided to procure our current facility in 2005, we wanted to remodel the 33,000 square foot building to move our classic car restoration business into it and have a museum like setting to allow people to re-live the period of the classic cars era. So, I started doing some research on the availability of collectibles and pricing to decorate the shop and showroom. At the same time we were trying to get building permits and zoning approvals for the extensive renovation of our facility. We started buying a few items in late 2005 on eBay and I had the opportunity to speak to a number of collectors of the memorabilia. Well for the sake of time I realized that I had to come up with a way to buy in volume to shorten the time spent and expense of acquiring the items. This led to an approach where I would buy the small items and have them shipped while making contact and speaking to collectors that had multiple collectibles and setting up future site visits. Then the larger items and site visits were scheduled months in advance to view their collections, I had devised a plan to purchase some of the larger items and having them hold onto them, until I could pick them up and see their collections.
Sounds simple right? The plan was to fly to the furthest point in the US on each scheduled trip, pick up a 26 foot Penske truck and set up stops to pick up the items already purchased and buy more along the way to fill the truck on our way home. So, on the first trip I convinced my wife to come along on a vacation so to speak, so that we could spend some time together. She may never trust me again after that statement. We started our trip by flying to Albuquerque, New Mexico. We rented a truck, and then drove 140 miles west into the desert to pick up a 1950’s Gulf Dealer Pole sign, with its pole, out in the middle of nowhere! The short story is – we drove 5,500 miles on that trip, in that truck, made 26 stops along the way; endured searing daytime temperatures of 100 to 108 degrees each day, sand storms, mechanical problems, off road experiences and met some very interesting people in places we would have never known existed. I continued this systematic approach to insanity for about 18 months, in which my wife never accompanied me again on a trip. I made four more similar trips to 39 different states and logged over 30,000 miles, met over 100 collectors, visited places and had wonderful experiences, in connection with the hundreds of items I bought! Each trip has a distinct story, challenges, people and places that made it very special and gave me an appreciation for the places, people and era that these items came from. Something that I never had before!
I had the opportunity to meet some great and interesting people, become a professional picker, see much of our great country and have the experiences that make great stories about those adventures, something that I will cherish for a lifetime. That is the reason when people ask “where did you find that piece?” it will take me back to the place, the people I met and the story behind that piece. In 18 months, I experienced a lifetime of collecting and memories to go with them. I am grateful and fortunate to have had those experiences. We would invite everyone and hope to share this experience with all of the visitors who come to our facility located at 17570 N. Tamiami Trail in North Fort Myers, Florida 33903, to see the memorabilia and the special cars we build.