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Japanese couple travel to Wellington to research Depression glass

  • Published Friday, Oct. 25, 2013, at 7:03 a.m.
  • Updated Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013, at 6:32 a.m.

Depression Glass Shopping

A reporter visits the NDGA National Glass Museum under the guise of a story.

What once was a hobby while they lived in Kansas has turned into something of a business pursuit for Tak and Aya Oda in their home country of Japan.

The Odas were in Wellington on Thursday to tour and learn about the NDGA National Glass Museum in order to start their own museum in conjunction with an American-style restaurant they have in Komoro City, Japan. NDGA is the National Depression Glass Association.

“Ah, we are lucky coming here,” Aya Oda says she and her husband commented while driving from Kansas City to Wellington.

They flew more than a dozen hours to get to America.

“It’s just nothing to see this view,” Aya Oda says of Washington Avenue in downtown Wellington where the museum is.

The Odas lived in the United States for about 25 years, a decade of which was in Kansas when Tak Oda was president of Sokkia, a company that makes measurement instruments and at the time was in Overland Park.

While living in Kansas and Nebraska, they began frequenting antique malls for Depression glass, the sometimes clear and often colorful glass that businesses gave away or sold cheaply to attract shoppers during the Depression.

After Tak Oda retired, they returned home, though someone was living in their Tokyo house, so they bought a large home in the historic Komoro City.

“The house is so big, so we decided to do something,” Tak Oda says of opening the restaurant in their home.

“Doing nothing is very tiresome,” Aya Oda says.

The Odas have more than 300 pieces of Depression glass and began using it in their increasingly popular restaurant, Sun Hills Oda.

“We never thought about opening (a) museum at first,” Aya Oda says.

As she cooks, Tak Oda serves the food and often spends his time talking about Depression glass with guests.

“I want all Japanese people (to) see these pretty, historical glasses,” Aya Oda says.

They started discussing the museum, which will be in separate rooms of their sprawling home, possibly divided by years of production or types of glass.

Tak Oda says they’d like to move their interests from the restaurant to the museum.

“I wish I could open up like this,” Aya Oda says of how the Wellington museum looks with its rows of glass cases and pieces representing individual glass companies.

Museum curator Linda Bredengerd is advising the Odas on how the NDGA museum operates. For instance, she says it’s good to have pieces to put on display but then have at least one of the same piece in storage.

“My goal is … four of everything so I can actually do table settings,” she says.

In addition to touring the museum, the Odas are making time for shopping there and elsewhere during their week in the Midwest. They have numerous favorite patterns.

Miss America is very pretty,” Aya Oda says, pointing to that pattern. “The name of it, Miss America, is very American, isn’t it?”

They also like Heritage and Fire King.

“Everything, everything,” Aya Oda says.

The Odas found the museum while researching their approximately 20 books on Depression glass. They want to become NDGA members.

They plan an April opening for their museum. Their main point, the Odas say, is to share the glass instead of hiding it in a closet.

Their trip is somewhat reminiscent of a “ Bridges of Madison County” tour they took years ago while living here.

“To me this is more like ‘ Back to the Future,’” Aya Oda says of the quaint downtown Wellington setting for the museum and their excitement at being there.

“To us, it’s like dreaming,” she says. “It’s like a movie.”

Getting the message out

Mark Moerner has been bicycling for about 25 years, and he’s been in the aircraft industry almost that long.

“I just kept getting laid off and laid off,” he says. “I just want to be in charge of my own destiny.”

He went through a small business program at Wichita State University, where he developed a business plan and marketing strategy.

“They were a huge help.”

That led to his new Apostle Bikeworks, which is in 1,100 square feet at the southwest corner of 21st and Tyler.

“An apostle is a messenger,” Moerner says. “I just want to be a messenger.”

His message is “getting people out and having a good time.”

“I’m trying to be different than everybody else,” Moerner says. “Sell different things and have a different attitude.”

That includes Kona and Jamis bikes along with parts and accessories and other items related to biking. He’ll also do repairs.

“Basically it’s a bike shop that I would want to go into,” Moerner says.

He says he’s been in some stores where “they’re about as excited as a death row inmate.”

“I just want to be fun and be a place where people can come and hang out.”

He’s also going for convenience.

“There’s not another bike shop that’s right along here,” Moerner says. “There’s riders I see all day long going back and forth. … They can just hop in here … real quick and be back on their way.”

Moerner says he’ll be open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and then only 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays.

“Because Saturdays I want to go ride, too.”

You don’t say

“I’m going to take this clock, which does not have an alarm on it that I can tell.”

Karen McNally, director of community support service for Comcare, accepting her retirement clock after working for Sedgwick County for 20 years

Carrie Rengers first reported these items on her blog. Be among the first to get her business scoops at blogs.kansas.com/haveyouheard.

Reach Carrie Rengers at 316-268-6340 or crengers@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @CarrieRengers.

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