Auburn’s Whistle Stop Junk Shop owner shared love for collectibles

Paul Kashuba, the owner of a popular Auburn collectibles store, took a love for old and often worn objects and turned it into a business that allowed him to share his passion with an appreciative public.

Whistle Stop Junk Shop was where Kashuba based his business at.

But it was not uncommon for him to be one of the many waiting in line to check out the offerings to sort through at a local estate or yard sale.

The results of those forays into the field – as well as the finds of a knowledgeable network of “pickers” who would resell to his store – were on display and for sale in his two-story building at the end of Nevada Street, just before the Interstate 80 onramp.

The store was overflowing with random items of mostly 20th century bric-a-brac, with a nod toward the useable and eclectic.

For drivers slowing at the busy intersection, the Whistle Stop windows were a moveable feast of changing displays, with the most elaborate adorning the storefront at Halloween and Christmas.

Kashuba, 63, died March 24 of pancreatic cancer at the Weimar home, with close relatives by his side, his wife, Mary Kashuba said.

Paul Kashuba will be remembered with a gathering of family and friends to be held from 1-4 p.m. April 21 at the Eden Valley Community Center.

Kashuba’s appetite for collecting was whetted by his mother and an uncle, who both were collectors in their home state of Hawaii, Mary said.

Kashuba was born in Rialto and moved with his family to the Sacramento area in 1966. By the time, Kashuba graduated from Foothill High School in 1972, he had already met Mary. Their 39th wedding anniversary would have been this month.

Before opening Whistle Stop, Paul had worked at several trades and gained enough skills to build his own house in Weimar.

The move into collectibles started as a hobby. While working at a Lumberjack warehouse, he noticed a line of people at a nearby Salvation Army vying for a small number of collectibles. He soon had a collection of what he would describe in a 2009 Auburn Journal as “useable old things – not quite antiques and not quite junk.”

Kashuba opened Whistle Stop in 2006, shunning online sales in favor of a personal touch.

“ I would prefer to focus all my efforts on the store, hands-on, where customers can come and hold, feel and pick up an item before buying,” Kashuba said in 2009.

At the time, Kashuba described himself as a recycler. One of the more high-profile recycling projects Kashuba undertook was assembling parts from several vintage autos into a “rat rod” hot rod replete with untouched patches of oxidation. He would drive his vehicle to and from the shop – and while the license plate was from 1922, it was actually a car of many parts from many years, Mary said.

When Paul made a sale of a vintage tool or object, he would impart the meaning or the history to the customer, giving the object a special aura.

“He loved putting things into other people’s hands to love again,” Mary said. “His biggest joy was passing things on to people who would value them.”

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