It was a busy and bittersweet Saturday at Fleetwood Antiques in Kutztown, where Elaine and Jerry Arak were preparing to close their doors after nearly 30 years in business.
It was busy, of course, because it was a beautiful, sunny September Saturday, and the Araks were offering great bargains. And it was bittersweet because frequent visitors and longtime friends stopped in to say goodbye to the smiling couple at the heart of the close-knit Arak family, long a fixture in the area.
There's no need to pass the tissues, though, as the childhood sweethearts who recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary are heading to Florida and jumping into retirement hand in hand. Meanwhile, their son and daughter-in-law, Jack and Sherry Arak, have bought the property, which includes the huge antique shop and the couple's longtime home, to turn it into an antique co-op. Jack and Sherry also own the Shoppes at Kirbyville and GRQ Furniture in Kutztown.
The family is excited about the transition and the new chapters they are starting, although they say it will be difficult for the close family to live far apart.
On the other hand, Jerry jokes they've been "practicing" for the past three years, as they've been dividing their time between Florida and Pennsylvania — six months in each. Now, however, they're ready to make it permanent, and they'll be on their way in a little over a week.
The shop officially closes Sunday afternoon, and it's not certain when Jack and Sherry will reopen the co-op.
Elaine and Jerry's children and grandchildren have grown up in the antiques business, so for son Jack, taking over was the logical next step.
"I was raised in this," he said. "I can't imagine doing anything else."
Jack's 17-year-old son is already starting to buy and sell on his own, and his 20-year-old daughter works for him full time. Their planned co-op will rent space to other dealers for their goods, and the co-op will sell them with no commissions.
"I'm excited to start something fresh," Jack said, although he said it will seem odd not to have his parents close by.
He has big shoes to fill: When a customer came up to the counter, Jerry worked him like an old pro.
"How much for the Lamborghini?" the customer asked, placing a tiny toy car on the counter.
"It's on the house," Jerry said. "Make sure everyone knows that — Jerry just gave away a car!"
A combination of the Araks' friendly, bantering style and a fortunate listing in the Entertainment Sourcebook have made Fleetwood Antiques a popular stop for a number of big names in Hollywood and New York.
Elaine said Mark Harmon and Pam Dawber once stopped in — the stool Harmon sat on to look through drawers of small treasures is still referred to as "the Mark Harmon stool."
Ralph Lauren has been a longtime customer, and Jack just returned from New York, where he met with the producers of the TV show "Boardwalk Empire" to talk about providing them props.
Elaine, long known for her love of antiques, said she is taking very little with her as she starts her new life.
"I don't need to take much," she said. "It's all in my heart."