This week in Fox 25/48’s latest “County By County” series, we’re featuring Trempealeau County. Join us each night this week for a story on the area, then tune in Saturday at 5:30 PM for a 30-minute special on all the region has to offer.
Tonight, Fox 25/48’s Erin O’Brien explains how a unique telephone store in Galesville can take you back in time. If you’ve ever wondered how we went from these to this, then look no further than Phoneco in Galesville. Ever since Ron Knappen was a little kid, he’s had a fascination with antiques.
“They don’t have to be pristine type antiques, junky stuff.”
If something was old, it caught his attention.
“Going to the dump as a little kid and bringing home stuff that my folks would throw away after they’d thought I’d forget about it.”
And later, as adults, he and his wife Mary got into the antique sales business but they soon “dialed in” their focus to telephones.
“One year we went to Illinois that’s where we’re from to visit for Christmas and he went to a friend that he knew about and bought eight telephones. And he stuffed them in our ’55 Buick Special along with 3 kids, Christmas, and luggage, so nobody was happy and I wasn’t either cause he spent our savings. We got home and he sold all his phones. And he said I know where there’s more.”
“It expanded and it just kept growing.”
Today Ron guesses he has about 400,000 phones at their store in Galesville and in four other storage facilities in the area. They’ve supplied phones for movies and TV shows, like Saturday Night Live and Seabiscuit.
Ron and Mary say they’re not yet ready to “hang up on” their business although they are done adding more phones to their collection.
“We have plenty and, but once in a while something comes along that we’ll buy.”
For now, they just enjoy being one of a kind….
“There is nothing like this in the world. You’ll never find a repeat or a duplicate of it.”
And sharing their “true calling” with the rest of the world.
In Galesville, Erin O’Brien, Fox 25/48 News at Nine.