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Moneta resident Pat Saunders shows off a fraction of her autograph collection. Saunders co-leads the Smith Mountain Lake Newcomers antiques interest group. Photo by Karen Dillon
Friday, September 20, 2013
When she moved to the lake eight years ago, Pat Saunders kept seeing advertisements for the Smith Mountain Lake Newcomers Club. After attending her first meeting, she was instantly hooked.
“I had never been in a newcomers group before because I was always working,” said Saunders, a former marketing executive and antiques dealer who moved to Moneta from Pennsylvania. “These ladies couldn’t have been nicer or kinder.”
As she became more familiar with the club, Saunders learned about the various interest groups that are affiliated with the Newcomers — from bicycling and Bunco to dominoes and gardening.
Carria Wojdyla moved to Moneta from Lynchburg about four years ago and also joined the Newcomers.
“They have something for everybody,” said Wojdyla . “And if there’s not something already available that interests you, you start something.”
That’s just what Saunders and Wojdyla decided to do in 2011, when they started an interest group for antiques enthusiasts in the Smith Mountain Lake Newcomers Club.
Each month, the group carpools to a designated location in search of big bargains and collectibles, and no antique store, consignment shop or thrift store goes un explored.
Afterward, the group, which lists about 30 members, will recap their adventures during a show-and-tell session over lunch.
“It’s all about two things — shopping and lunch,” said Saunders. “It’s so much fun because everybody then gets together and shows what they found.”
They have visited stores all over central and southwest Virginia, including Verona, Lexington, Altavista, Lynchburg, Bedford, Rocky Mount, Salem and Roanoke.
Inevitably, someone walks away with a bargain or two.
“Most everybody collects something,” said Saunders.
Saunders began collecting autographs many years ago when she helped a non profit with getting auction items from celebrities. Now she has an entire room devoted to her collection, which includes books, posters, photographs, Broadway playbills and television show scripts.
“I’m always looking for autographs,” said Saunders.
There’s also an educational component to these monthly outings as the collectors share their tips and tricks on why they collect what they do.
“You learn a little bit about what everybody likes,” said Wojdyla. With a laugh, she added, “I’m more into primitive pieces. If it’s rusting or if the paint is peeling off, it’s mine.”
While the group had been meeting regularly on the fourth Tuesday of each month, they found that, with the downturn in the economy, many shops were closed on Tuesdays. For their September and October meetings, Saunders said the group had decided instead to meet on the fourth Thursday of each month when shops are more likely to be open.
“This will work for October, but not November because of Thanksgiving,” said Saunders. “We’ll just have to see how it goes.”
Regardless of the day they meet, Saunders sends out regular email reminders of the day, time and place they’ll shop. There’s always a turnout and a good time .
And, just because these ladies show a commonality for collectibles, it’s not necessarily about spending money.
“It’s really not because we’re all dying to buy stuff, because we usually don’t,” said Wojdyla. “I just love going out and socializing and learning about everybody’s different interests.”
For more information, call 297-6771, 721-7087 or 576-2322.
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