Adam’s Antiques Closing Up Shop in Downtown Steubenville

In its heyday, Adam’s Antiques in downtown Steubenville specialized in community memorabilia.

Among them were plates and decorative pieces from the old Steubenville Pottery; a refillable prescription bottle from Mantica’s Pharmacy; old photos of the Paramount and vintage dice from Steubenville mainstays Midway and Rex. Photos of Steubenville sports greats Calvin Jones, Frank Gilliam and Edward Vincent were featured, along with pictures and movie posters featuring Dean Martin and the Rat Pack. Keepsakes from Acme Glass, Gill Glass, and LaBelle., lined the walls as well as memorabilia from the Hub, the old P&W Bus Co., Spahn’s and celebrities like Traci Lords.

Most of it is gone now, as Vinnie Fristick and his wife, Susie, look to wrap up a going-out-of-business sale that began in August. He admits it’s like selling off memories.

“That’s what antiques are, they’re things you had as children or things you remember your grandparents had around,” he said. “And sometimes you have to tell people a piece they have might be 100 years old but it’s not worth a lot.”

Fristick started collecting about 35 years ago.

“When I married Susie, the rule was if we brought something home, something else had to go. But it was something we both enjoyed, we enjoyed shopping and going all over the country to find things. Every day we had off we’d run, especially on weekends because my wife worked for the school district.”

Fristick, who retired as a steelworker about 12 years ago after 28 years in the business, said being his own boss has been his dream job.

“I’ve loved being able to buy and sell local history,” he said. “I had Calvin Jones (memorabilia) before they even thought of doing the statue.”

And given Steubenville’s history, he said a lot of pottery has passed through the shop.

“Some of the pieces we had were unique, one-of-a-kind things,” he added. “That’s what sold for the most money. They came from locals, people who worked (in the plants) and brought them home.”

Most of the time he bought on instinct. He said sometimes he made money, other times he took a bath.

“There were a few pieces I bought for $10 and got over $500 for” when he sold them, he said. “But, when you’re playing a guessing game, you guess a lot more wrong than right.”

“I don’t think this generation has much appreciation for the past,” he added. “The new regime coming in keeps telling me I live in the past, that I’ve got to let it go. But that’s what made this place, the steel industry and the other industries of the past, the Acme Glasses and the Gill Glasses, LaBelle, the woolen mills, paper mills…At one time you didn’t have to leave Steubenville for anything — whatever you needed you could find here.”

His first day in business was Dec. 4, 2004. He remembers because it was the day of the Steubenville Christmas parade, it was cold out and the shop, located on Adams Street, was just a street away from the parade route, a blessing in and of itself: First he bought the building, then set about adding a new roof, windows and air conditioning.

“I tried to make it decent,” he explained. “I got tired of that dilapidated downtown image” that had plagued Steubenville for decades.

“I grew up in a home where we always had what we needed and I always had a good job,” he said. “When I came downtown, I ran across people every day of the week who had to sell something just to make ends meet. I got to know how the other side lives,”

Walking away is sad, he concedes, especially because of the friendships he’s made.

“There are some good people down here in the south end…if they see something going on they’ll call me at home or find a way to let me know if there’s a problem. You know, I’ve never been robbed in all the time I’ve been here.”

He said he has a potential buyer, though the shop would take on a different persona if it goes through. If there’s no buyer, he still figures to close by Feb. 1.

“It’s been a good run, I’ve made a lot of friends,” he said. “I was born here 62 years ago and I’m just ready to hang it up, I’m ready to take more than one day off at a time. I don’t work very hard but I’m here six days a week.”

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