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POSTCARDS FROM FLORIDA

Antiques not the only attraction at Renninger's in Mount Dora

Jim Abbott on Travel

Postcards from Florida

January 24, 2010

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When I told my friends that I went antiquing last weekend, there wasn't a one of them that didn't arch an eyebrow.

They don't see antiques coming from me.

And, yes, I have been to the mammoth Renninger's Antique and Collectors Extravaganza only a handful of times in my life. And, yes, in each of those instances, there was a lady involved. Even if you don't leave with a vehicle laden with vintage armoires, I highly recommend the Renninger's road trip as a lovely social opportunity, if nothing else.

If you know something about antiques, you can impress with an eye for a value. If you don't, as in the case of yours truly, you can at least amuse with well-meaning, but clueless observations.

On one long-ago trip, I happened on a vendor selling vintage posters for the so-bad-it's-good 1962 B-movie Safe at Home!, a . flick starring New York Yankees Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris as cardboard-stiff versions of themselves. It was filmed in Fort Lauderdale, near my home town, so I asked the guy how much a poster would cost.

When he told me, "Five," I told him confidently, "I'll take two." He then explained that it was $500, and gave the woman I was with something to laugh about for the rest of the day.

Good times.

I made the trek again this past weekend, with a companion searching for an antique chandelier. It was a lovely day for strolling the 800 or so booths on Renninger's 115-acre site, on U.S. Highway 441, less than a mile north of State Road 46 in Mount Dora. For details, call 352-383-8393.

The Extravaganzas, which draw vendors and shoppers from around the world, take place three times a year. In addition to the January event, there's another one slated for Feb. 19-21, and a third planned for November. The other months feature smaller Antique Fairs, featuring the wares of Renninger's 200 permanent dealers.

While my friend searched, I was happily distracted by the array of trinkets: a Roy Rogers button ($18); Kentucky Derby glasses ($3 each); oodles of old-fashioned postcards. Later, I was enlisted to carry a fixer-upper iron chandelier, the day's big bargain at $25.