Lisa Popa, who operates Lisa’s Not Just Antiques on Beach Lake Highway near Honesdale, PA, began her career in the music industry.
A native of Vineland, NJ, she had her own business for 33 years called “Cabaret Connection,” selling albums for cabaret and theater artists. She first got to know the region when she brought singers and performers up for the evening cabaret shows at the Bradstan Country Hotel in White Lake, NY.
What prompted a full-time move to the area?
“Sadly,” said Popa, “the final prompt was the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. The life that I knew ended after that.
“It affected the city in so many ways. The theater district and cabaret clubs were suffering, because no one was coming into the city. There were times when, for a show the Algonquin, maybe six or eight people showed up. People just weren’t visiting.”
One more trend in the music industry changed the business, said Popa, and that was the onset of downloading itunes and electronic music. It became difficult for artists with CDs and albums to make sales.
Popa opened her first upstate shop on Main Street in Narrowsburg, NY, called Narrowsburg Antiques. After that, she managed the Antique Junction above Peck’s Market in Narrowsburg for a little while. She came upon her present location during a job search, when she was on “a wild goose chase” for a job interview and happened to see the “For Rent” sign on Beach Lake Highway. She knew right away that it could be a good fit.
Popa opened Lisa’s Not Just Antiques a year ago, on May 1, 2011.
“This year,” she said, “it has really taken off.” She was able to acquire space in a second building that used to be a hotdog stand. “I have furniture in there now, and my sale items, tables, odds and ends.”
The shop is noticeable from the highway for its “yard sale look.” Ninety percent of Popa’s merchandise comes from house cleanouts and estate sales. “The idea is to have serviceable, usable items: dressers, sheets towels, kitchenware, lamps.” She also has artwork, furniture and collectibles.
“My fifty-percent-off room is always well stocked,” said Popa. “Right now, it has baskets, pots and pans, soup tureens, kitchen utensils, artwork, notecards, vintage handbags, curtains. Anything I get tired of looking at, or I think has been around too long, goes into the fifty-percent-off room.”
She keeps a big “free” pile as well of items that are too good to be thrown out, but not quite saleable.
Popa got to know folks in the area when she used to manage yard sales. “Lots of people know me from that,” she said.
She has a special connection to artist Brandi Merolla, who created her sign.
“Brandi used to be in the music business too, designing record album labels. She is one of the most talented people I know,” said Popa. Merolla often finds her quirky statuettes and other items used in her artwork from Lisa’s shop and sales.
What is the special appeal of Lisa’s Not Just Antiques?
“One thing that endears people to the store is that I am always negotiable on the price,” said Popa. “The store has a welcome feeling to it, too, and there is something for everyone. Even for husbands, I have tools, hunting gear, knives. It’s an across-the-board kind of place.”
And when you visit, you can be sure that Popa will have cabaret and theater music playing.