For a quarter-century, LouAnn Paulsen has seen her collection of ancient antiques and timeworn treasures grow by leaps and bounds, as she has accumulated plates from England and Denmark, dolls from around the United States and old canisters bearing the logos of Sanka and Folgers.
She has also made those historical heirlooms available for customers in northwest Iowa for the same 25-year period, as her business, Lou's Antiques, has provided a place for residents of Storm Lake to peruse and purchase vintage objects of all sizes, shapes and categories.
Paulsen, who owned a shop uptown for four years before moving the business to its current location on East Lakeshore Drive in 1981, also operates antiques stores in Spirit Lake and at the Old Ice House Mall in LeMars, and said her love of antiques has been with her her entire life.
"I've been a collector for a long time," Paulsen said. "The collector grew to where I could open up a store, and owning and operating the store is something I really enjoy doing now."
While the size of the Lakeshore store hasn't grown in 21 years, the size of the antique collection has, as Paulsen and her husband, Virgil, continually acquire numerous items from customers who sell their old items to the company.
"We keep filling up," Paulsen said. "We always say we'll take a handful or a houseful of antiques from people, and that's what's happened. Some people have sold us a small amount, and then others have sold us quite a bit."
Paulsen and her husband also continue to seek out eye-catching and interesting antiques at local shows across the Midwest, as they attend approximately six to seven antiques events at spots such as St. Joseph, Mo., Lincoln, Neb., and Walnut, Iowa, home of the large AMVETS Antique Show.
While television shows such as PBS' "Antiques Roadshow" have helped inspire many people to take a new look at their antiques, Paulsen said it shouldn't take all of the credit for the enthusiasm about the topic, as people such as herself have been interested in the antique business for many years.
"There's always been great interest about antiques," Paulsen said. "Shows like the 'Antiques Roadshow' may have made people a little more aware about antiques, but the interest has been there even before television shows like that came on the air."