I bought an antique shop. That is a real, actual decision I made. An actual, entire shop - well, the entire contents of the shop, anyway. In Vegas. Which, for those who don’t know, is around a 5-hour flight from me.

My sister-in-law sent me a text with a link for the shop, joking about how funny it would be if I bought the thing. I thought about it a bit, and then I made the plunge. It might seem crazy to some people (okay, a lot of people), but for what I do, and what I saw in the photos - it was really a bargain, if you think about it.

So, again, bought the shop - and after that, found out that, as a condition of the purchase, it needed to be cleaned out before the end of the month. At the time, that was 2 days away. And I was, again, more than 5 hours away by plane. So immediately after buying the shop, I bought my plane ticket, and touched down at about 7:30 the next evening. Some of my family was waiting for me, as they had offered their help and I snatched that up in a heartbeat.

Not even an hour in Vegas, I started to hit some snags. The directions to the shop were really weird - because the actual address for the shop led down a street nobody drives down, a not-exactly-accurate address was given in its place. The first place we ended up pulling into was a storage facility, and happened upon some fine individuals engaged in activities that you would imagine that alleys off the beaten path are designed for. One of these citizens attempted to approach the car, and my policy of “just keep driving, don’t stop” engaged.

Eventually, we found our way to the shop, and met the building manager. He was a helpful individual. He was very much an old-school Las Vegas type - quite well-connected, and had plenty of recommendations. As a collector himself, he understood why I was interested and had bought the shop in the first place. He was flanked by a woman who I assumed was an assistant or helper of some sort, as well as several dogs - a Great Dane, a Rottweiler, and a couple chihuahuas to boot.

And then I got my first good look at the inside of the shop, without the added benefit of carefully-selected photos in an online listing. It was - and I am in no way exaggerating - floor to ceiling stacks. Enough stuff that I absolutely began to believe I would never get it out. Not in two days. Not at all. There was also an overabundance of cases - themed cases, mind you, each one a different them - all of them locked. The manager had a keyring with at least a couple hundred keys - “These go to the cases” - but neither the keys nor the cases had any kind of labels. Did I mention there were a lot of cases?

So, a quick recap: floor to ceiling stuff. 2 days to get it all out. Millions of cases, millions of keys that could potentially unlock the cases. Only 4 people - myself, my mom, brother, and sister-in-law - to do it all. I was very seriously questioning my decision-making by this point.

We were there at the crack of dawn the next morning, and started going through as much as we could as quickly as we could. My mom, a thrift and antique store veteran, managed to sort through the conundrum with the cases and the keys (only a few keys were needed to open all of the cases) - which was a huge relief. We didn’t waste any time getting to work and boxing what needed to be boxed, trashing what needed to be trashed. I was glad that I’d thought to arrange dumpsters, because the shop definitely had more than its fair share of junk. Far more. Enough so that it started to draw some more colorful characters to us.

To say this was starting to really overwhelm me wouldn’t exactly be an exaggeration. I even started to wonder - was I crazy for buying this and thinking I could clean everything out in 2 days? Jury is still out.

Anyway, that was about when the manager casually informed me that we didn’t really need to have everything out in 2 days - he’d just put that in the listing to cover himself. If we needed to, we could stretch this out over a week or whatnot. By that point, I just wanted to fit whatever I could into the pod and get out of Vegas. We’d already found a whole bunch of diamonds in the rough, plenty of cool and unique things - and there was a lot (be sure to keep your eyes peeled for part II, when I got home and got a chance to really look over everything). But knowing we had a buffer of a few more days was an unexpected aid.

Next day, I had four temp workers lined up - largely because I’m not going to try and have my 68-year-old mother help me toss a commercial refrigerator into the dumpster. Three of the four were great and showed up on time. I wasn’t sure what happened to the fourth guy, until I got a phone call from some people at a business several blocks away. They told me they’d found someone there with my name and phone number, wandering around looking for a job.

Aside from that little hangup, everything ran smoothly...up until the toilet clogged. Not just clogged, more than water overflowing - it was like water exploding from the base of the toilet, bad enough that I had no choice but to shut off the water completely, leaving us with no toilet at all in the building.

Finally, we were on our last day in Vegas. I had an extra spring in my step as I finalized the shop, put the last of the stuff in the pod, and made sure the first dumpster was hauled off. I sent the pod on its way, and then I went on mine - not unhappy to see the last of that place. Sure, I still had a giant pod of antiques that needed unloading and storing, without the benefit of having family around to help me out, but really….how hard could it be?