Gracie Garcia, a lifelong collector, world traveler and longtime manager of the Main Street Exchange in Los Gatos in the 1980s, died on Feb. 10 following a stroke she suffered in December. She was 82.
Tika Burns, one of Garcia’s four children, said her mother was passionate about antiques for as long as anyone can remember. She rejected most newly made things, son David Garcia said, possibly because they could not match the beauty and quality of something that has been around for generations.
“I don’t think in our entire life she ever went into a new furniture store,” he said. “She always bought beautiful used stuff.”
Every international trip would result in a new item, or multiple things, for her collection.
“The world is her marketplace,” David said.
Garcia was born in San Jose in 1939, growing up in Campbell and graduating from Campbell High School.
The family lived in San Jose until moving to Morgan Hill in 1969, where Garcia pursued her other love of animals. They moved to a home on Fifth Street in Gilroy in 1977, where Garcia lived up until her passing.
While living in Gilroy, Garcia commuted to manage the Main Street Exchange in Los Gatos. But after the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake damaged the building, Garcia began floating around the idea of opening her own store, preferably closer to home.
It was about this time that the hardware store at 7445 Monterey St. in downtown Gilroy had closed up shop, leaving the building available. Garcia purchased the building, and Gilroy Antiques opened its doors.
Countless people have walked through the doors to view and purchase Garcia’s eclectic displays of furniture, kitchenware, artwork, jewelry and any type of collectible imaginable, or just to chat with the proprietor herself. She was known to make friends with anyone who stepped foot into Gilroy Antiques, and she often invited people to view the large apartment upstairs that would make any collector swoon.
Most of her store’s merchandise was acquired through private parties, according to a previous Gilroy Dispatch article, where Garcia described herself as a collector first and dealer second. Her taste in goods definitely leaned toward the Victorian era, her children said.
Planning is underway for a celebration of life.