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Jay’s Unique Thrift Shop Scores Big on Antiques Roadshow

Some of Questa’s own visited one of America’s longest-running reality TV shows that will air this coming winter. No, not American Idol, and no – no one married a Kardashian. Believe it or not, it is PBS’s Antiques Roadshow. For those not in the know, Antiques Roadshow, which has aired on public television since 1997 and now is in its 27th season, follows a simple premise: people bring their heirlooms and treasures to a local convention center where antiques experts appraise and give the history behind the items. Every item gets appraised, and the most interesting or expensive pieces are shown on air. PBS calls it “part history lesson, part treasure hunt.”

Photo by Jessica Kirwan: In Santa Fe on June 14, 2022 Fran Lanzisera, right, of Jay’s Unique Thrift Shop and the Antique Roadshow experts give the Vulcan “Live Long and Prosper” hand gesture while posing with the autographed costume from Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

The owners of Jay’s Unique Thrift Shop, founder Jason Rice, with new partners, siblings Jessica Kirwan and Francesco “Fran” Lanzisera, are nothing if not treasure hunters themselves. “About 80-percent of what we get, we get out of storage lockers,” says Jason Rice. Buying the contents of old storage units is a business fraught with risks, but can lead to amazing finds, like the items Jason, Jessica, and Fran took to Antique Roadshow’s recent stop at Santa Fe’s Museum Hill on June 14th.

“We had a Star Trek suit, with all the patches, all the signatures from 1979, from Hollywood. We found it in a storage locker. The lady worked for Star Trek as a costume and makeup designer, and we got all her stuff.” The costume was used in the 1979 film Star Trek: The Motion Picture, which starred William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, and the rest of the cast of the original 1966 NBC television series. The film and its sequels are credited with helping turn the cult classic, which had survived two cancellation attempts by NBC and remained in syndication thanks to efforts of dedicated fans, into the multi-billion media empire it is today.

Photo by E. Wilde: Jason Rice is always surrounded by treasures. The interior of this store never stays the same and is never boring.

“All the patches are authentic, the belt buckle is authentic, all the signatures are authentic from everyone on Star Trek, including Gene Roddenberry, the visionary creator of Star Trek. Even though it was probably only worn by an extra or bit player, Jay says the experts appraised the autographed costume at $20,000 and $30,000.

As if that weren’t enough, The Jay’s Unique Thrift Shop crew had another amazing find to show the antiquarians from PBS. “We also took in an AC/DC hat, Angus Young. He wears those funky hats.” AC/DC, the Australian rockers whose hits like Thunderstruck and T.N.T. remain staples of classic rock stations and dive bar jukeboxes, are some of the top-selling musical artists of all time with over 200 million albums sold worldwide. Their guitarist, Angus Young, is known for his eccentric performance style which includes his customary Australian grade school uniform, complete with jacket, shorts, tie and cap. The hat’s value starts at $3,000. Jason says if they can find evidence of performances at which the hat was worn by Young, the value shoots up to at least $15,000, quite a bit more than the few hundred they paid for the contents of the storage locker.

Jason Rice, who was born in Idaho and lived in Houston before moving to New Mexico as a child, opened Jay’s Unique Thrift Shop eight years ago and recently teamed up with Fran and Jessica. The store sells all types of second-hand goods, from antique furniture and original R.C. Gorman lithographs to old tourist matchbooks and even rare and classic cars, though ironically, not that much clothing. They also buy and trade items with public. “People around here have lots of great stuff.”

The items he took to Antiques Roadshow will not be available in the store, however. Since they are so valuable, Jason plans on auctioning them through Sotheby’s in the coming months. Check their website, sothebys.com, for more information on bidding. The Antique Road Show episode featuring their Santa Fe stop is expected to be aired in 6-8 months. Jay says the Star Trek uniform and the Angus Young hat will likely not be featured on the TV show when it airs, but it was a lively and educational experience to show off their treasures to the antique experts and to have them validated.

Photo by E. Wilde: Jay’s Unique Thrift Store’s store front. This is in December 2019. It’s time I a take a new shot.

Jay’s Unique Thrift Shop is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am-5 pm at 12 NM-38, Questa, NM 87556. They are also open on Sundays during Farmers Market season. Antiques Roadshow airs on PBS New Mexico and online. Check listings for time and dates. More information can be found at pbs.org/wgbh/roadshow.