SOPHIA - The Unique Antique and Mercantile on Main Street attracts those in quest of antiques, collectibles or a history lesson.
"I love to talk to people," said proprietor Phyllis Rose, who is also known as the town historian. "I know everybody in the whole country."
Even with an abundance of merchandise, she keeps the shop clean. Everything sparkles from mirrors and knickknacks to pictures and glassware. She also carries decorations, books, dolls, ornaments, music boxes, lamps, clocks, pottery, hats and assorted other items.
"This is my physical and mental therapy," she said of the shop. "I love it. I meet friends and new people who come to town. My life is greeting people."
She comes from a long line of merchants with a love for the area.
Her grandfather, John Hunt, who once had a general store, was the first merchant in Sophia, she said. In her shop, she has a picture of him with her grandmother, Lockie, from the early 1900s.
"My dad was a merchant, and I began working when I was 8," Rose said. "Our roots go deep in Sophia. In 1912, when Sophia was incorporated, he served on the board."
Her parents, Guy and Ceretha Hunt, had a number of businesses over the years, selling items such as furniture, cabinets, carpet and clothing. She worked in all of them.
Whenever a building fell into disrepair, her father often purchased and restored it and then either offered it for lease or sale.
In the early 1900s, many frame buildings in the area burned to the ground, she said. The materials were so flammable that a flick of a match could send them up in flames.
"We suffered so many fires that frame buildings were banned by a city council ordinance," she said. "Italians and Greeks were coming here to work in the mines. Many chose to start laying rock, brick and stone to build our buildings. In Sophia, each building is independent. The Greek and Italian immigrants came in the 1930s when the last of the original buildings were built."
Rose worked for a local funeral home for several years before opening Unique Antique and Mercantile 10 years ago. She said she is technically retired and the shop is a hobby because she opens when she wants. That is usually six days a week, but she hands out many business cards so folks can call ahead to make sure the shop is open.
She and husband Raymond have three children, nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Rose, 75, once carried more furniture but that is a heavy item. So, she now focuses on smaller things. She shops estate sales and yard sales. She also has loyal customers who know what she likes and volunteer to pick up goods for her whenever they travel.
However, she is not one to be idle.
When anything of historical significance is going on in Sophia, you can bet she either initiated it or is involved in some way.