Fred Haley and his rescue Chihuahua, Senorita, sit outside Haley's store, Quirky Antiques at the intersection of Second Street and Second Avenue North on Wednesday. Haley has been a teacher and business owner in Mississippi since the 1970s. Photo by: Amanda Lien/Dispatch Staff
The handwriting on the wall of Quirky Antiques belongs to clerks at the general store the building held in the 1900s. Clerks would keep track of credit customers owed this way.
Photo by: Amanda Lien/Dispatch Staff
Fred Haley admires a 1970s art deco lamp for sale at Quirky Antiques. Haley's store sells everything from bureaus and china to lamps and antique swords.
Photo by: Amanda Lien/Dispatch Staff
March 18, 2019 10:37:34 AM
Two local antique dealers only spent a few minutes inside Quirky Antiques, Fred Haley's antique store on Second Street North near Second Avenue, but they still gave Haley something to think about.
"Antique dealers are a little like used car dealers," he mused. "The kind of people not exactly trusted in society. I don't know where that came from.
"I used to do that back in the (1970s)," he added. "Hunting for antiques, I mean. But that doesn't really excite me anymore. Now, I like to keep it low key. I like to take my time, think about things. I've lived a while. That's what happens."
Quirky Antiques, and Haley himself, specializes in American relics. The store itself is an American relic, a former general store built in 1901 that still has the original shelving units, as well as handwriting from the store's past clerks, on the walls.
"They'd allow people to buy on credit and just write it up on the wall," Haley said. "They'd give pretty much anything on credit."
Prior to becoming Quirky Antiques, the shop was used as a storage unit for a group of local antique collectors. After Haley opened the building as a store four years ago, he tried to capture the spirit of the general store the building used to be by leaving chairs out front, both for sale and for sitting, and by always keeping his door open.
"Back then, (the general store) was the focal point of the community," he said. "People came here for their grocery needs and gardening needs. It was a communication center."
Prior to selling antiques, Haley had a long career as an educator. After graduating from Mississippi State University in 1969, he taught seventh grade science at Bayou View Junior High before working in the administration department during Gulfport's school desegregation in the 1970s.
In 1974, Haley wanted to get married, but realized he couldn't do that on a teacher's salary. So he opened an antique business, Haley's Collectibles, which quickly began to turn a profit.
"I was on top," he said. "I remember thinking, 'man, how great is this? I'm so successful.'"
Haley's sister, who was also an educator, saw Haley's success and recommended he read one of her favorite motivational books, "See You at the Top" by Zig Ziglar. He said that book reminded him of what really mattered: giving back to others.
"It wasn't antiques and cars and clerks and boats that would make me happy," he said. "It was about helping other people. How simple is that, and how easy?"
Haley started building a course based on Ziglar's book for junior high school students and teachers. He then traveled with Ziglar, Mary Kay and other entrepreneurs, opening for their keynote speeches at events worldwide.
In the 1985, Haley realized he needed to be back in a classroom. He went back to Gulfport and consulted with school systems and colleges on how they could incorporate the course based on "See You at the Top" into their curriculum.
"Even then, I needed to get back into the classroom," he said. "I wanted to get back to teaching kids. But things were changing in education."
In 1990, Haley moved back Columbus and began teaching at Cook Elementary Fine Arts Magnet School, then an alternative school for 13- to 18-year-olds. He taught there for two years before deciding teaching wasn't as much for him as it was in the 1970s.
From then until 2005, Haley was the resident director at Camp Henry Pratt, a summer camp that was owned by the YMCA until 2018. He left that position in 2005, and began making plans to open Quirky Antiques, hearkening back to his 1970s-era venture, only now with more worldly experience and a lifetime of wisdom.
He misses teaching, but is fulfilled by the work he does at Quirky Antiques. He can often be found outside his store, offering neighbors free popcorn or refilling someone's bike tire when it starts going flat. Once, he said, he asked a woman he saw sleeping on the sidewalk near the soccer complex if she needed some food, then purchased her a hotel room and clothing before driving her to the state social security office in Jackson.
"He's just a kind man," said Donna Kuyerkdall, Haley's friend and patron of Quirky Antiques. "He's always here for someone else. And he never tires of helping them. He always has time."
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