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Sweet Livin' for everyone

BY BILL COONEY | MARCH 12, 2015 5:00 AM

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Each week, The Daily Iowan will provide an in-depth look at one Iowa City business.

Sweet Livin’ Antiques, Arts, & Records is located in a plain red brick building. Upon entering, one realizes the outside appearance is the only thing unremarkable about the shop.

Hundreds, probably even thousands of records are the first to greet customers. These items, along with antiques, furniture, and other artifacts give Sweet Livin’, 1565 S. Gilbert St., the feel of a museum rather than an antique shop.

Paul Young, the Sweet Livin’ owner, when he got started in the antique business, he thought it would be temporary.

“In 1997, I was working on my dissertation for my Ph.D. when I started helping out at an antique shop located where the Futon Shop is now,” he said, referring to the store at 224 S. Linn St. “I thought it was going to be a temporary thing, but here I am, 20 years later with no dissertation, still working with antiques.”

Young said he enjoys being his own boss and the business.

“I love learning about how people used to live just by looking at items they used in their everyday lives,” Young said. “I think most of us have a treasure hunter inside of us, and this is a great place to come and find something cool.”

There is no shortage of interesting items at the store, including a Roman-era pottery piece, ebony African statues, 100-year old Valentine’s Day cards, and a Daily Iowan issue from May 9, 1942, describing the Battle of the Coral Sea.

Young is not the only one selling in Sweet Livin’.

Laura Lovell works three days a month and has her own area in the store for her items. She said her favorite part of the job is interacting with customers.

“I love watching people’s reactions as they walk around and look at stuff,” Lovell said. “I think people are really reflected in their things, and it’s interesting to see what items people are drawn to.”

Lesa Frantz, who works part-time, said Sweet Livin’ lives up to its nickname of “The Really Cool Store.”

“This store is a treasure-box; you never know what you’ll find just by looking,” Frantz said. “Paul will play any vinyl in the store if you ask, so yes, it is a really cool store.”

Many items considered “obsolete” are finding a new use at Sweet Livin’, Young said.

“Just the other day, I had a guy come in and buy a couple of these old rotary phones for his mother who has Alzheimer’s,” Young said. “These are the phones she grew up with, so they won’t confuse her like a modern phone would.”

There is something for just about everyone in the store, he said.

“I think anyone that comes in here will find something cool,” he said. “That’s why I call it ‘The Really Cool Store.’ ”


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