The most outstanding stop on our recent road trip out west was about 1 mile off Interstate 44 at Exit 67 at 2637 S. State Highway N in Republic, Mo.
It is called Cooper's Antiques, and it does qualify as an antique shop. But the 30-by-60-foot building is 95 percent filled with restored furniture or machine quilting. It's actually two specialized stores in one building sprinkled with a few other antiques.
In my 15 years of writing this column, I have maintained that the two best sites for authentic antique wood and furniture restoration are the Maul family business just outside of Cissna Park and Colonial Antiques mall just off Illinois 47 in Woodstock, just south of the Wisconsin border. Now those two have to take a back seat to Cooper's Antiques, which specializes in quality, authentic oak furniture.
As we drove up the driveway, both Coopers were working on a large piece of furniture. Inside the store were more than 125 items, all refinished and ready for sale, mostly oak with a few other woods.
The Harlow dresser really caught my eye. It was mahogany with a full mirror in the middle and a row of skinny yet deep drawers on both sides. The front of the drawers were half circles or round with good pulls, glass with brass rings. It was a first for me.
Bill Cooper's workshop is right behind the main store, and his wife said the other outbuildings are full of quality furniture just waiting to be restored and join the rest of the gang in the retail store. They have been at it for more than 30 years. Carlie Cooper was a rural mail carrier before joining her husband's woodworking business.
While I do not know a lot about quilts or their craft, my wife was impressed by what she saw and said the prices were reasonable and the product was top drawer. If you are in the market for really good authentic restored furniture or a good line of high-quality machine quilting featuring the Nolting Long Arm Machine, this is a trip that is well worthwhile.
Bob Swisher has been a collector since he was a child. Questions or comments can be sent to Swisher by writing to The News-Gazette, P.O. Box 677, Champaign, IL 61824-677 or emailing email@example.com.