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Change of heart has dealer buying collectibles again

by Sandra Lee Stuart (09/10/08).

ENGLEWOOD, Colo.— Chris Lucero has a message for collectors. He’s buying after all.

Three months ago, Lucero opened Antique Fishing, a small store in this Denver suburb to sell off his 50-year collection of vintage fishing equipment and other collectibles. Diagnosed with congestive heart failure and other ailments, the retired police detective and longtime collectibles dealer didn’t want to saddle his heirs with the emotional chore of unloading his unique inventory.

Then a funny thing happened. While he remains slowed by his health, Lucero says he’s feeling better than he has in a while.

“I think it has to do with the work, having something to do,” Lucero said from his familiar seat behind his desk at the sunny front window of his store. From there, he can monitor his shop’s two doors and three display areas—as well as the little dramas that unfold every day along a stretch of South Broadway that features a pawnshop, taverns and used-car lots.

Chris Lucero’s Antique Fishing storefront

“Before, I was just sitting home and waiting,” he said. “Now I come here. People are always bringing something they want me to look at and give them an opinion on.”

In fact, Lucero has felt good enough that he’s been winking at his original business plan and expanding his inventory with some of the best items that come his way. His store is like a man’s dream of a boy’s bedroom closet, filled with bamboo fly-fishing rods, vintage lures and reels, comic books, model cars and other collectibles.

Behind his desk, album covers of 1960s LPs blanket the wall. Most are Elvis collectors’ items—Lucero moonlighted for the King of Rock ’n’ Roll as a bodyguard.

Since he opened, Lucero has been behaving like a guy who isn’t going anywhere soon. He hangs a bold “Antique Fishing Open” banner over the back of his shiny black SUV to lure customers cruising South Broadway’s six lanes of traffic.

Considering selling collectibles on the Web

During August, business was slow as fly casters trekked to mountain streams instead of Lucero’s store. He is thinking of adding Internet sales, but he isn’t sure how his merchandise would stand out among thousands of vintage rods, reels and lures available that he considers to be junk.

Meanwhile, his shelves look noticeably fuller.

“I don’t know why I keep buying,” Lucero says. “I guess that’s what collecting is all about. Some of these reels I have now, there are only about 15 of them left in the world.”

He pauses, and then remarks without a trace of sarcasm, “Maybe I need a bigger store.”

If you are interested in Chris Lucero’s collectibles, you can reach him at the Antique Fishing store in Denver. The phone number is 303-359-1613. The address is 4068 S. Broadway, Englewood, CO 80113.

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