“We don’t have much in the way of Egyptian Artifacts anymore, just that Sarcophagus lid back there.” When speaking to Antique Dealers, these are the kind of things you do not hear very often. Come to think of it; Alan Gorsuch is not the type of man you meet very often. He posses an effortless cool that comes from experience and driving through Downtown Tacoma shirtless in his convertible 1955 Buick Century. Alan is more of a local legend than an Antique Dealer.
Alan was 23 years old and cleaning out the basement of his home in Nisqually. He stumbled across an old bottle with some type on it. He grabbed the bottle to throw it into a junk pile, and the bottle just stuck. He tried again and could not let go. There was something about the bottle that drew him in, and he decided to keep it.
Sometime later, he was on vacation in Mystic, Connecticut. Alan came across tables full of old bottles at a garage sale. Through a conversation, he discovered, his bottle held some value. A man offered him $50 on the spot for it. Alan declined and later joined a local bottle club back home. He learned that the bottle he had found would fetch $200 on the market. He was hooked and off and running.
Alan opened his first shop on Broadway in Downtown Tacoma in 1985. At that time, he joined the ranks of The Time Machine and Memory Mall. At a community meeting, these antique dealers dubbed the stretch of Broadway between 7th and 9th, Antique Row. A few years later, he would purchase 743 Broadway as the home for today’s Sanford & Son Antiques.
When speaking of the name, Alan said, “I Stole the name from Red Fox, no one knows the name, Gorsuch & Sons, but everyone remembers Sanford & Son.” We agree, the name Sanford & Son has become synonymous with Antiques in our local community. Of all the antiques Alan has purchased over the years, it was a beaded Native American belt buckle that would change his life forever. The piece was brought to him by a local picker. 6 years later, that local picker would become his wife.
Alan and Cheryl met in the Autumn of 1988. Cheryl started in the Antique business by dumpster diving for fine china in Germany. Around the time of their meeting, Cheryl was planning a trip back to Germany. She purchased a ticket, and Alan asked, “where’s mine?”
The pair took off on what was supposed to be a vacation that turned into an antique shopping trip across Europe. Eventually, they filled a 40-foot shipping container with Antiques from their journey. At this time, the trend was stripping furniture to its natural wood finish. Cheryl & Alan fell in love with the painted furniture found throughout the European countryside. The furniture we would now call “Shabby Chic.” With their shipping container arrived, the duo set off doing Country Auctions. Selling their furniture in a country setting inside Sanford & Son. At one of these auctions, they had their staff dress in theme and rented baby pigs to let loose at the auction.
At one point, Sanford & Son was described as “Canyons of Furniture.” Over time, however, the advent of the Internet has destroyed the Antique business’s traditional way worldwide. On a trip to New York, Alan & Cheryl came across businesses like theirs, building stalls to give other businesses space. He took this concept and, 15 years ago, launched the Middle Floor Merchants.
Many local businesses got their start in the Middle Floor Merchants. When speaking on this subject, Cheryl said, “We Love being incubators; we love finding out that people can live their dream and actually make money out of it- that’s the best part.”
In our time meeting with Alan and Cheryl, we were moved by their connection. The level of affection and comedy between them after 26 years is amazing. To this, Alan replied, “It is amazing. I got all the scars and bruises to prove it.” They both laughed
743 Broadway Tacoma, WA 98402
Wednesday-Saturday 11am-5pm, Sunday 12-5pm