Friday, September 9, 2022

Memories galore: After 30 years, Dusty Attic closing the doors

Jean Rhoades as she reflected on 3 decades
of memories operating the Dusty Attic in
Butler with husband Dusty and daughter Sue

“He came home from work one day and informed me that we bought a flea market” said Jean Rhoades with a grin, speaking of her husband Dusty in 1992 and it was no surprise.

Jean, who was a respiratory therapist at the time and he working at Thorco, said that everything just came together as both husband and wife already had a sincere interest in the business- he liked toys, glass, colored and fancy, and was always interested in learning more about anything. “I was into hand tools, historical pieces, kitchen items and the like” she said. It all was a perfect fit. 

After purchasing the flea market in Rich Hill, the couple lucked into finding a large building at 813 N. Orange street in Butler to showcase their inventory, most all of which eventually came from scouring garage sales, auctions and anything they saw when passing by.

“We’d be driving around, and if we saw a garage door open” she giggled “we’d stop and ask if they were having a garage sale.” This friendly method not only brought in a lot of items otherwise not for sale, but nicely complemented their growing stock of collectibles and you-name-it items.

In the early years Jean, a ‘city girl’ and Dusty, from western Kansas decided they wanted to raise their children in a rural environment and ‘hop scotched’ around the area including Linn county Kansas, before settling  in rural Butler, near their newfound business. While she continued work at Bates County Memorial Hospital and Dusty, who held a degree in Animal Husbandry, milked cows and labored at Thorco, their dream slowly became reality. The first four years or so brought folks from all over the United States and business was good. The Rhoades honed their skills and overall, things went pretty well for the next 12 years until tragedy struck- Jean’s love and longtime business partner suddenly passed away.

Reflecting back “He sure had a lot of knowledge. About everything” said Jean as she spoke of Dusty’s untimely passing in October of 2008. Despite adversity and in his memory, she continued to operate the Dusty attic in the years since, collecting items and greeting customers with enthusiasm as always.

But as with all good things, they come to an end; the Dusty attic officially closed the doors September 3rd. Business had slowed in the last few years and it was simply time to liquidate and move on. In this case, there’s a lot to do before that can be completely done. Jean, with help from daughter Sue Baptista, who also lives in the Butler area and other children in Colorado, is set to have two auctions- September 10th and 17th to clear out remaining inventory. It won’t be easy, as her daughter said it’s like “closing the door on dad’s memory.” 

But still, it must be done.

you’ll find says Jean Rhoades
as she shows a spent bullet,
 two badges and a lapel pin
 that once belonged to a Vernon
county lawman that found  their
way to the Dusty Attic in Butler.

One might ask, how many collectibles could be in the confines of the Dusty Attic? The writer of this article was invited to check every nook and cranny, and did just that. Rooms not normally accessible to the public are filled with most anything a person could imagine; vintage radios, tools, lighting fixtures, parts and pieces like hinges, door knobs, accents, books and more... making a list would require tons of time, reams of paper and many pencils. With that, fingers are crossed that the upcoming auctions will help it all find new homes.

When asked what the future holds “I’m making a list and deciding what road to take” Jean pondered, smiling “I’m looking forward to me time, I won’t work full time and I don’t want to be tied down.” 

And it sounds like me time well deserved; the Dusty Attic will be well remembered and we wish the best of luck to Jean and family.

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