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Pop’s Shop: It’s about the past, the picking and the process

Story by JoAnna Sproles

When you talk to Tillmon Bishop about his hobby of buying and selling antique collectibles, he jokingly compares the items to himself … a bit out of date and rough around the edges. But, all kidding aside, in the past couple of years, the Lincoln County resident has made room for little pieces of history — a place called Pop’s Shop — and within sits a business of buying and selling.

Bishop, better known as the Chancery Clerk for Lincoln County, keeps records both at work and, through these items, outside of work. The collectibles that he searches for, buys and resells each tell a story. Bishop said buying the item and its accompanying story allows him to continue learning about the past. Meanwhile, reselling the item gives him the chance to retell the story to someone else.

“I’ve been collecting antique tools and artifacts for years and finally had to make some room by selling so I could get some more items. That’s what happens to people who ‘pick,’” he said. “I have been selling for about three years and I really enjoy everything about it.”

Bishop’s shop, called Pop’s since his grandchildren refer to him by that name, offers a little bit of everything — as long as it has some years on it and a purpose to reveal. Bishop admits that he often comes across items and is not sure at all about their purpose. Collecting the story from the owner is the most interesting part, he said.

“The best purchases are from older people who can tell you about the item,” Bishop said. “Then, it is my job to try to relay the same story to the next buyer.”

Pop’s Shop is set up in Bishop’s yard on Heucks Retreat Road, where he hosts a “barn” sale a couple of times of year. The next one, scheduled for Sept. 22 and 23, will include 10 to 15 other vendors as well. He also keeps a booth stocked at the Milltown Mall in Wesson.

His search for inventory has taken him all over Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas. His wife, Rosemary, enjoys accompanying Bishop on weekend picking trips, estate sales and auctions. He says she basically puts up with his “addiction.” The couple travels to the “Longest Yard Sale” in Canton, Texas, and many regional festivals, as well.

“Sometimes you make money and sometimes you don’t. But you always enjoy the time spent during the entire process,” he said. “You have to be aware and quick. I’ve learned a lot from others.”

The “others” have meant new, close friendships for Bishop, which are priceless. Among his friends are Wayne Smith, the Chancery Clerk of Lamar County, and James Kizer of TJ Antiques. They have been mentors for Bishop as he started and grew his business.          

“I’ve made some very good friends over the years who share this same interest,” he said. “They are very honest and kind folks who have an exceptional work ethic.”

Bishop generously shares part of what he has learned — you do not make money when you sell, you make money when you purchase smart. And the best part of the trade can be the negotiating.

“The negotiating is the part I really do enjoy the most, and it is not the part that everyone likes. I also like finding that antique, that one item big or small, that I have not seen before and have no idea what it could have been used for. That fascinates me,” he said.

Bishop said he has plans to continue his hobby, hopefully even into retirement.           

“It all depends on when I retire and obviously my health and ability to continuing picking,” he said. “However, it is certainly my intention at this point to keep on searching for and buying old and heavy stuff, things that remind me of myself.”