Glasses are lined neatly one after the other, grouped together by pattern. Wine glasses, champagne flutes, goblets, tumblers — some colored, cut or etched — fill the cabinets that line all of the walls of The Glass Urn in Mesa.
For Fran McClendon, it’s time to think about retiring, but before she does she has an entire store and a life’s work to liquidate.
McClendon owns the antique shop that specializes in American glassware and china, and moved to Mesa in 1983 after first opening in Phoenix in 1979.
“I’m downsizing,” she said. “I want to do things and I know I can’t hold on to everything.”
To do that, she is planning on holding a weekly patio sale every Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The first of her Fridays will be Black Friday, or Nov. 23.
The sale items will include a table for items priced below $25. Stock will be rotated and no one Friday’s display will be the same as the next, she said.
McClendon, who says a lady never reveals her age, served in the Army during World War II, later joining the Air Force, spending a total 25 years in service.
“It was while I was stationed in England when I discovered glass,” McClendon said. “I love the study of the glass industry and china industry.”
In her office, shelves full of books detail antique glass and china. Finding and selling beautiful pieces has become her life’s work.
During the war while she was stationed in Birmingham, McClendon would head on the weekends to the markets were she would see the beautiful crystal ware through the windows or during high tea at nice restaurants. It was there that she began her appreciation for the fine craftsmanship.
After returning to the U.S., getting married and moving a number of times, McClendon and her husband, Roy “Mac” McClendon, moved to Phoenix. They built a house in Tempe where McClendon still lives today.
“My husband enjoyed it also and he’s the one who did a lot of my research,” McClendon said. “We came here with 27 boxes of antiques.”
Those boxes were the couple’s personal collection. While McClendon collected glass and china, her husband collected nudes and paperweights.
“I got him started on nudes,” said McClendon. Sometime after his death in 1984, McClendon found a nude missing from her husband’s collection.
“So I bought it and put it in with his collection,” she said.
And while the majority of her stock is American crystal, she does also have a selection of foreign glassware including Waterford, Swedish and German.
McClendon likes learning the stories behind the glassware, the company that made it and the technique that created it.
“Cut glass is literally where the artisan would cut the glass,” she said, holding a small glass saucer. “See how the glass is so sharp, it can almost cut you?”
Then holding up a small oil lamp, she pointed to the pattern, “This is pressed glass and is made from a mold. Feel the design? The glass is almost rough.”
Part of what makes McClendon so well known and respected in the antiques world is her ability to teach, said Dee Penner, a friend and antiquer who is helping Fran organize the sale.
“She has helped a lot of people,” Penner said. “And I don’t know one person who has ever said anything about her. She’s a loved person. She’s known as an educator.”
McClendon’s ample stock will soon be put on display, including costume jewelry, stemware, plate ware, crystal, linen, quilts, pictures, postcards and other collectables.
The one thing that you can always get a good deal on at The Glass Urn?
“I hate champagne flutes,” she said. “When you drink out of them, they bump your nose.”
The Glass Urn is located at 456 W. Main St., Suites G and H, Mesa. For more information, visit theglassurn.com. Regular store hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
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