Dressed for the beach, Aztec business owner considers her job a day at one.
AZTEC — Candi Coury's business model is as old as many of the items she sells.
"It's just the old fashioned trust," she said. "You treat your customers good and they'll treat you good."
She insists it's worked well for her Aztec store — "Packrats - Antiques and Other Fun Stuff" at 504 NE Aztec Blvd. — which she opens every morning except Sundays at 10 a.m. She doesn't stop helping customers navigate the packed aisles, hallways and alcoves inside and the offerings outside that spill into the back yard and along the sides of the seven-room converted house until she closes at 5 p.m.
She only takes cash or checks, doesn't have a business phone and doesn't buy advertising or have any online listing. In an era of social media and websites that most businesses regard as standard practice, Coury likes to keep it simple.
"I'm old-school. We're entirely word-of-mouth. Never had a slow day and (we have) a lot of repeat customers," she said. "I used to take credit cards, but I could never get those straight. I was always confused. I have never had a bounced check and people come here and are kind of dazzled by the amount of stuff I've got. Our customers are low-key and really nice. I've been lucky."
Coury opened her first store on Apache Street in Farmington nearly 10 years ago, moved to a larger location on Main Street a year after that, ran out of room there, too. She opened her current roadside location in Aztec seven years ago.
Dressed in shorts, a t-shirt, flip-flops and wearing sunglasses, she looks like someone headed for a day at the beach instead of a hands on business owner. She starts each work day by carrying dozens of her front-row items into the parking lot out front. On one end is a careful stack of benches, tables and outdoor furniture. Dressers, cribs, bookshelves, birdcages, doors and wrought iron statues are on the left flank. Inside she sells clothes, kitchenware, artwork and statuary that are among thousands of items large and small and mostly antique.
When she's not helping customers load their purchases into their cars, Candi Coury turns up country music on the radio and paints furniture in all the colors of the rainbow outside in the parking lot.
"I paint every day. Bringing these things out each morning and hauling them back inside, it's my work-out," she said, laughing. "Our location here is perfect. It gets a lot of attention with all the cars driving to and from Durango. It's impossible not to see us."
She started the business after her husband of 34 years, Jim Coury, complained there was no room to walk in the couple's garage and said he would not build any more additions onto their home to accommodate her growing collection.
"I told her to stop buying stuff or do something else. So she opened a store. She doesn't throw anything away. It's a sickness, really," Jim Coury joked. He works in the oil field but said he helps his wife two days a week, repairing items and unloading trailers full of new arrivals.
"Jim was saying we had a million items here, but I think it's around 200,000," she said. "Either way, it's a lot. I have to have all of them. I'm just an addictive, compulsive personality, but I give Wal-mart a run for their money. This stuff just finds me."
She said that half of her wide-ranging inventory she has found herself and about half has been delivered to her door by people looking to sell.
The most popular items she sells are wrought iron pieces, signs and outdoor furniture, she said.
"I just love it. It's a fun business," she said. "I get to buy other people's old stuff and resell it. A lot of people are like, 'Are you out of your ever-lovin' mind with all this stuff?' but some of these things are worth some money. I'd do this for free if I had to. It's a sickness, but a fun one to have. This isn't work at all."
James Fenton covers Aztec and Bloomfield for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4631 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @fentondt on Twitter.