David and Lila Fair of Ham-sters/Somewhere in Time, which opened Oct. 17 at 113 Pennsylvania Ave.

Archived Story

Two-in-one store opens in Dowagiac

Published 3:31pm Sunday, October 28, 2012


Ham-sters/Somewhere in Time is two businesses in one, but neither is a pet store.

“Ham-sters” refers to amateur radio, for which David Fair sells new and used equipment.

“Somewhere in Time” is Lila Fair’s contribution in the front of the former dance studio at 113 Pennsylvania Ave.

Keeping the dance mirrors makes the space appear twice its actual size, and it could also be called Where in the World because her antique, vintage and collectibles from the past century are corralled from across the globe.

“We specialize in things from all over the world. We have things from Africa, China, Spain, Greece, pottery from Portugal and German ceramics,” Lila said. “(Thursday) somebody walked out with a woven South American cesta.”

If you’re not familiar with jai alai, that’s the wicker catching basket players strap to their arms.

Somewhere in Time, which has a web site, carries an extensive selection of 1940s Kodiak Bear newspapers, as well as household items, glassware, cameras (including one from Russia, a flashbulb the size of a light bulb and an old box camera), jewelry and small appliances.

David’s great-uncle was stationed in the Aleutian Islands during World War II and sent the Alaskan paper home to his mother “regular as clock work every week.”

They suggest non-hams browse while the other checks out radio supplies.

The companion businesses opened Oct. 17 and, since the Dowagiac couple still hold day jobs, they are open 5 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

“I’m originally from Cassopolis and David’s from Elkhart,” Lila said. “There used to be a ham radio store in St. Joseph, but it closed about five years ago. He had his wife set up in the corner with crafts and knick-knacks she could sell to women when men came in to look at radios. He thought that was a great idea and we’ve expanded on it.”

David works for Niblock Machinery in Elkhart.

Lila is employed by Lincoln Township Library in Stevensville.

“After the St. Joe store closed,” David said, “you had to go to Detroit, Milwaukee or over to Toledo to go to an actual ham radio store.”

The Fairs selected Dowagiac for its central location and a storefront already subdivided.

Ironically, a television given to Lila has a plate indicating it originally came from Curtis TV — which used to be located in this very same building.

“It’s home,” she said. “We won’t sell it, it will just be a conversation piece. We don’t have as many records as they did. We have two Edison records, CDs and cassettes for sale. When we go to sales, we look for tags saying where things were made. There was an estate sale at Andrews University for a professor who went all over the world. We’re hoping if people stop in and see something they like, that will direct us as to what we need to look for as we go around. Usually, they’re not looking for something specific, just browsing until something catches their eye. I’m not a trained antique dealer or anything like that. The Chinese tea set in an elaborate basket came from an estate sale here in Dowagiac.”

There are Erector sets, Lincoln Logs, Smurf figurines and Coke memorabilia to examine while Louis Armstrong jazz plays in the background.

The night before it was Buddy Holly.

Or the shopping soundtrack might be a Sixties group, such as The Association.

David Fair can be contacted at (574) 333-4990.

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