Out with the old

A changing advertising industry has led a local prop supplier to unload thousands of antiques

LYNDALE – Steel toys, weathered sports gear, seasoned farm equipment, old cookbooks – name the antique and there’s a good chance Diane McGrath has it.

"In the glory days, this stuff used to rent all the time," she said walking through a basement filled with thousands of old things. "Now everything is computer generated and so high tech that they don’t need this stuff anymore."

McGrath, 70, is the owner of Scroungers, a prop company she started in 1970. During the last several decades, she’s collected a treasure trove of antiques, which she has rented to advertisers for use in print and TV ads. Technology advances and use of more modern props has slowed antique rental in recent years, she said, so she put a huge chunk of her collection up for sale.

Scroungers, located at 3541 Lyndale Ave. S., is staying in business, it’s just lightening its prop load, McGrath said. Items are being sold at neighboring Bayberry Flowers, owned by McGrath’s daughter, Monica Flis, 37.

McGrath said she’s taken some of her favorite items home. She can part with the rest.

"I do have an attachment because I bought everything myself," she said. "But I’ll survive."

Aside from renting props, McGrath has also helped arrange sets for advertisers. She recalls using her props to create classic table settings and outdoor farm shots. She started noticing a big dip in antique use during the last five years.

Freelance production designer, art director and set decorator Terri Gold, 48, of Linden Hills, said shots nowadays are often done using a "green screen" on which items can be digitally added. Gold has been a Scroungers customer since the mid-1980s and still is but said most props used today are contemporary. She used McGrath’s antiques for many years and said she is sad to see them go.

"When you needed it, she was a one-stop shop," Gold said.

Most of McGrath’s antiques are tucked away in neat sections categorized by genre: sports, toys, farm, nautical, kitchen, etc. She’s been pulling items up one-by-one as the antiques in Bayberry sell.

"I could be doing that for the next five years," she said.

For more information about the antiques for sale, contact Scroungers at 823-2346 or Bayberry Flowers at 825-1990.