Eddie and Ann Palmer

Eddie and Ann Palmer own Antiques on the Avenue in Rayne. 

Eddie and Ann Palmer, owners of Antiques on the Avenue in Rayne, were named Business Person of the Year by the Acadia Parish Chamber of Commerce. The Mississippi natives have been married for 52 years. 

Ann and I met when we were both in grammar school in Tremont, Mississippi. We were childhood friends then (beginning in 1951), dated in high school (classes of ’62 and ’63) and were married in 1967, just after I finished a bachelor’s degree at Mississippi State and just before entering a master’s program there. Ann and I began “picking” during that time in order to supplement meager wages and also began going to nighttime and weekend auctions where we would buy furniture and collectibles, take those items to another auction and sell them through that auction on consignment.

After finishing a Ph.D. at Virginia Tech, we moved to Lubbock, Texas, in 1975 where I began teaching sociology at Texas Tech. Ann enrolled in and finished a bachelor’s program in housing and interiors and then opened a draperies and interiors business in Lubbock. We appreciate the smooth surfaces, curves, lines and “moderne” features of streamlined art deco furniture and continue to collect these pieces for ourselves and for our shop in Rayne. We joke about bonding with the inventory when we locate pieces we fall in love with and occasionally ask for visiting rights to a client’s home to see the piece when it is moved from our shop.

We moved to Lafayette in 1985 when I was offered a job at (then) USL. Ann closed her business in Lubbock, and we moved many of our favorite pieces to Lafayette, having to store many pieces because we had too much to fit into our town house. Even after moving into a larger house, we were still cramped and eventually decided to sell off excess pieces. Ann outlined a plan to downsize by taking pieces to antique stores and outdoor markets and quickly found buyers for some of our pieces. Deciding to go back in business, the move to Lafayette allowed us to continue our passion for collecting, refinishing, stocking and selling on a part-time basis. It is hard to get treasure hunting out of one’s blood.

Periodically making good finds is what motivates much of our treasure hunting behavior. One of our finds happened a few years ago, after I had retired from UL and after we bought and opened our antique business in Rayne, when we bought a warehouse filled with hundreds of old foundry mold patterns, some about 100 years old. These patterns are often rough, dirty and scarred but are beautiful and attractive after sanding several times, hand waxing and being staged in attractive settings (many are used for center pieces on tables or for wall hangings). Many customers are seeking unique decorative pieces, and these are perfect for their tables, rooms and offices.

We found a vacant building in Rayne in 2007 that met our needs. We bought the old People’s Drug Store building, which dates back to 1884. It is on a corner lot across the street from the famous Mervine Kahn building and is adjacent to The Warehouse, another building of historical significance. The People’s Drug Store was a gathering place for many of Rayne’s citizens for years, and we love being regaled with things that happened in and around the store in the past. We encourage people to visit with us, sit around the table for coffee and reminisce.

I chair and serve along with Ann and 12 others on the Rayne Old Spanish Trail Committee, a group sponsored by the City of Rayne and The Rayne Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture. The Old Spanish Trail Auto Highway (U.S. 90) is considered by many to be the Route 66 of the South. The roadway runs from Saint Augustine, Florida, to San Diego, California. Under the auspices of the OST100 organization located in San Antonio, Texas, Rayne became the first “Official OST City” in the nation in 2016. Crowley’s annual car show contains an OST component with an OST motorcade.

When we were informed by the Acadia Parish Chamber of Commerce that we had been selected as Business of the Year and Business Persons of the Year for 2019, we were totally surprised and completely humbled. We are so appreciative of this honor, especially because we are much smaller than many other businesses in Acadia Parish. The award validates some of our activities and provides an incentive for us to continue to work through our business to make more friends, satisfy more customers and network through the parish to increase commercial activity where possible.

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Follow Adam Daigle on Twitter, @adamdaigleAdv.