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If you have driven on the 7100 block of Little River Turnpike in Annandale anytime over the last three decades or so, chances are you have seen an old brown commercial barn that looks like it’s been there forever.

According to the current occupant--Kurt Kruger of Kruger’s Antiques--that barn has been many things over the years; a lumber storage area for a saw mill, a garage for a landscaping company’s vehicles, and it almost became an Asian produce market.

“That last idea didn’t fly,” said Kruger. “Fairfax County zoning officials told those folks they couldn’t sell edible agricultural products out of it. And their loss was my gain. Because of that decision, that barn became available just when I needed it. That was in 1998.”

Since then, Kruger, 75, has filled the barn with 2,400 square feet of antique treasures that he says he has accumulated over the last 34 years.“I was once an economist for the CIA,” he said. “I have a Ph.D. in Soviet economics and I studied the Soviet Union’s defense budget. I retired from the agency in 1981.”

After retiring, Kruger said he pursued his love of old books.

“I have a collection of more than 30,000 books including one from the year 1580, several first editions, and a 46-volume American encyclopedia from 1805,” he said. Kruger says it was his love of collecting old books that eventually led him to collecting other antique items.

“I would rummage through antique stores, yard sales and thrift stores looking for old books and come across other old things that appeared to have value,” he said. “That’s how I came to collect and sell antiques. Eventually I needed a very large space like this barn in which to display everything.”

“Everything” is right. Kruger’s barn currently houses just about any item one might seek in terms of an antique; furniture, chandeliers, kitchenware, artwork, jewelry, electronics, musical instruments, ceramic figurines, decorative holiday items and of course…books.

“This is a real antique store,” he says. “It’s a treasure hunt. And as the big sign outside says, ‘We Got Stuff’.”

But collecting and selling antiques is only part of what Kruger enjoys about his business. He spends his days online, researching and learning about everything. Many items do not have price tags because he says he doesn’t know what some things are worth yet.

“I take in about 400 to 500 items a week, so I don’t have time to research and tag everything right away,” he states. “You can come in here and possibly get an amazing bargain. If someone is interested in something, sometimes I will guess, and I might seriously under price it.”

He claims to have once put pricetags of $25 on two ukuleles only to later discover they were made in Hawaii in the 1920s and worth considerably more. “They sat around the store for months with those $25 price tags on them until I found out what they were really worth,” he said. “I eventually sold them on Ebay for a total of $4,500.”

Kruger Antiques, 7130 Little River Turnpike, is open every day from 10 a.m. until “sometime between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.” says Kruger. “If I go to church on Sunday, we don’t open until 12:30...but I don’t always go.”

gmacdonald@fairfaxtimes.com