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As Ray Jilderda walked through his store seconds after opening the doors to a small crowd of people already waiting outside, he stopped especially to say hello and pat the backs of a few people he knew.

After 27 years running The Antique Mall, he and his wife have decided to close the establishment and retire. And while some of the people threading their way through the store during the first day of its 50-percent off going-out-of-business sale on Tuesday had never heard of The Antique Mall before, others had been there many times.

“We've met a lot of new friends,” Jilderda said.

Jilderda said he will continue his business of cleaning and repairing clocks into retirement.

One frequent customer, who picked out old prints of Bambi from among the store’s selection of hardcover books, was Orcutt resident Didi Reynoso. She said she and her family have been coming to the store for about as long as it’s been open.

She understands the decision to retire, however.

“It's sad, but my parents had a business for 40 years and they finally had to close down when they got to a certain age,” Reynoso said.

She said her son has made an annual trip to the store to buy her Christmas gifts. She enjoys not only the intrinsic value she finds in the antiques, but the sentimental worth as well.

“There's something cool about people having lived a whole life and they may have had this one little thing that they really loved, and now you find it in a shop,” Reynoso said. “I like the idea of the story behind it.”

Another couple, Paul and Paula Robertson, drove an hour from Paso Robles to get to the store before its 10 a.m. opening. They collect silver coins and other antiques.

“We like older things, just unique stuff,” Paul Robertson said. “And it doesn't have to be all that old, if it's unique, I like anything that's unique and different."

Jennifer Jenkins, a resident of San Diego who used to live in Santa Maria, came to the store on Tuesday looking for things of personal significance to her. Jenkins is a descendant of the Pickard family, which has created fine china since the late 19th century. She and her mother are collectors, searching garage sales and stores for pieces from the family company.

She’s never been to The Antique Mall before, but she said the half-off sale got her attention.

“(Pickard China) is usually pretty pricey, so I thought this would be a good time to stop in,” she said.

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