Tens of thousands of old phones linger in vintage seller's inventory

Phoneco, a mom-and-pop seller of analog technology, has tens of thousands of classic rotary phones in stock and they aren't shifting.

Their inventory exploded in 1991, when the Knappens purchased 13 semi-trailer loads of phones from the Turtle Lake business after the owner died. Phoneco also began supplying phones to Hollywood for period-specific movies. They included in 2005 "The Lost City," which featured Andy Garcia, and "Cinderella Man," directed by Ron Howard. A year later, Phoneco phones appeared next to Scarlett Johansson and Hilary Swank in "The Black Dahlia," and in "The Good Shepherd," which featured a star-studded cast of Robert De Niro, Matt Damon, Angelina Jolie and Alec Baldwin. But the glory days of antique and not-so-antique phones, which included trips across the country to buy and sell phones, are in the past with just a few orders a week now. Much of the focus is spent on trying to empty the building in Galesville. The Knappens have taken more than 50 loads with their pickups and also have used the couple's Buick Riviera for the 9-mile round trip from their farm to Galesville and back.

It's true that we hit peak nostalgia some time ago. But I see they're trying to sell these phones for $100 when the going rate for similar items is under $50 shipped. They're able to retire, apparently, so someone needs to bring up the H-word with them—I count a fair number of immobilized vehicles in that aerial shot of their storage facilities— and see if that gets something else moving. They've lost track of time and need a disinterested party to liquidate the excess at prices the market will bear and organize anything that has a good chance of becoming "hot" again, even if that means it all ends up at the Amazon warehouse.

P.S. the website is lovely, be sure to check it out.