About Once Found


Once Found was born from not wanting to grow up. We are a brand of wonderment. We are handmade and hand-delivered. We are treasure hunters and storytellers. We are dirty knees digging through a pile of the past to discover the perfect memory that tells your story. At Once Found, we are the place for you to rediscover the connection to your past. We hope our stories help you tell your own and inspire you to share about them with the ones you love.


We are bringing the most important part of antiques back to antiquing—the stories. Like some of your favorite television shows, we spend hours at Second Hand Stores, Flea Markets, Auctions, Estate Sales, and with Collectors searching for unique antiques and relics. We are looking for unusual pieces that evoke curiosity. These are the pieces that tell stories—their condition, their location, their reason. The memory creates the value at Once Found.

Once Found brings you a narrative with each piece. All antiques and relics are for sale, and they are sold with a hand bound and signed copy of the story. These antiques and relics are extremely limited, and once they are sold, they are no longer available. But, there is always something to be found, and always another story waiting to be told.


We do it for intrigue. Ever since I was little, I’ve been curious why people keep the things they do? Why do certain keepsakes make their way from generation to generation? And most importantly, I’ve always wanted to know about the stories they told. But what happens when these items get lost, or worse, the stories are forgotten? Where would we be? Who would we be? If we couldn’t carry our past into our future, how would we identify? This is why we do what we do. Once Found intends to never forget the memories that make us who we are. We started Once Found to help bond brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, friends, and grandchildren with the grandparents they never met. We started Once Found to provide a place for you to find a gift with thought, with character, and with charm.


We are a boy, a dog, a pickup truck, and an endless imagination. My name is TJ Bollinger, and I am the owner of Once Found. I have a lifetime of experience in treasure hunting and antiquing, started by my mom when I was very young. She would take me to Long Grove and Geneva and Door County—one hand holding hers and the other holding my piggy bank. This is where and when I fell in love with the curiosity of the things people keep. I would wander the flea markets and antique shops searching for items that told me stories. And I never gave up that love. Not just for the antiques, but for the stories. I graduated in 2008 from Columbia College Chicago with a Bachelor in Arts and an emphasis in Fiction Writing.

Though life has often taken me in directions that stray from my passions, my passions have never let me stray. And the time was right. So I figured out a way to combine those passions in what you have before you—Once Found. I couldn’t be more pleased to share my stories and relics with you. I hope you enjoy them as much I did, finding and writing them.

But I am not alone. None of this would be possible without the support of my family and friends, and my faithful dog, Gracie. It also wouldn’t be possible without the wonderfully talented artists and photographers, with whom I am continuously collaborating my stories. And of course, the numerous collectors, all as weird and obsessed as me. It is with them that I have found my musings to bring to you. Thank you all, so very much.




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