One woman’s trash is another’s treasure

Maria Nann

Local shop owner’s 25-year collection becomes “coolest place in town”

Annie’s Almost Anything Shop, located in downtown Kent, boasts coats, shoes, jewelry, hats, trinkets and almost anything else imaginable. Photo by Elizabeth Myers | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: Ron Soltys

Need a light?

No — not like that.

Annie’s Almost Anything Shop is giving away a free lamp, and store owner Annie Morris wants to see it go.

“It’s taking up space, just sitting there,” laughed Morris as she tried to persuade a customer to take an old-fashioned, brown desk lamp.

The thought of anything “taking up space” in Morris’ shop is comical, seeing how the walls are covered with an odd array of assorted hats, posters, necklaces and various other items.

“You can’t even see yourself in the mirrors we have hanging on the walls,” Morris said. “They’re all covered up.”

Accidentally, of course.

In fact, the whole shop was an accident.

Morris, an avid, 25-year collector, began her business last Christmas season, expecting to be open only during the holidays.

“People wanted me to stay,” she said. “So, I guess we’ll see.”

Morris’ business isn’t any ordinary shop. A fair amount of her merchandise actually sits outside her store.

“I had people tell me they had never even seen the place until I started putting things outside,” she said. “Hey, whatever it takes to get people in here!”

Possibly the most interesting merchandise in Annie’s is the seemingly never-ending supply of hats.

“No matter how many antique stores I’ve gone to,” freshman advertising major Kara Benson said, “I’ve never found this many hats.”

The merchandise that makes up her sidewalk sale, as well as the rest of her store, is a collaboration of collectibles Morris has gathered during the past 25 years. Various odds and ends, such as jewelry, glasses and china, clutter the shelves, while an array of clothes takes up an entire corner of the tiny shop.

Morris used to sell her various items at a Hartfield flea market before embarking on her own economic endeavor.

Morris also has a corner of her store blocked off specifically for children. This “Itsee Bitsee store” is compiled of old toys and belongings of her grandchildren.

“I have 10,” she said. “Five boys and five girls.”

Her grandchildren usually come in on Saturdays or days they don’t have school.

“They come in and sell cookies and cupcakes outside when we have a special,” Morris said.

In addition to the “almost anything” Annie’s offers, Morris also gives away free Bibles to passers-by.

“Scott James (a friend of Morris), my husband and I run a volunteer Bible study at Ridgewood Nursing Home in Fairlawn,” Morris said. “Anything to help someone out.”

If these two activities were not enough to keep Annie’s owner on her toes, she and her husband also run a wallpaper hanging business.

Perhaps these two extra occupations explain the store hours.

Typically closed on Mondays, Morris said she sometimes comes in and opens for people.

“It just depends on if I’m tied up on another job,” she explained.

As to the future of Annie’s, Morris isn’t sure whether she’s going to stay open.

“I’m staying until at least Christmas,” she said, tentatively. “If I decide to stay open after that, I’ll have to hire someone.”

Dan English, a senior music major who lives in the apartment above the store, likes the traffic in front of Annie’s.

“I’ve always liked it,” he said. “Everyone who walks by is always looking in the windows, at all hours of the day. I sit up there a lot and just watch. It’s a nice place.”

Benson agreed. “This place is awesome,” she said as she tried on an old-fashioned hat. “We have a lot of shops like this at home, but not with stuff that interests me.”

Louis VanRiper, a volunteer worker and friend of Morris, had similar feelings.

“It’s the coolest place in town,” he said.

Annie’s Almost Anything Shop

-Located: 164 E. Main St. in downtown Kent

-Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 12:30 to 6 p.m.

Contact features reporter Maria Nann at [email protected].