At a store in south Tulsa, people line up daily like they are about to see a show. They come to a place that most people dread.
"You're standing in the main lobby of the tag agency right now," said Jim Barnes, owner for 27 years. "If it floats or has wheels you got to come see us to get it taken care of."
The tag agency has served more than 2 million patrons since opening its doors. One of those customers is Stephanie, waiting in line to get her identification card, while pondering her impending close up. "If it's not good then I can't help it anyways," she says with a chuckle.
Faces in this place though, aren't of frustration or even boredom. And there isn't just one reason why.
"I would generally say they are awestruck," said Jim, referencing the countless collectables through out the office. Jim has created his own museum, of sorts, for all to enjoy. "They (customers) ask if they have to buy a ticket to come in here," he said. Jim has 20 old phones, shelves stocked with miniature trucks and trains, walls covered with historic newspapers, and 40 other collections for everyone to admire.
But if his lobby is a museum, then his office is his man cave. It's stocked full of goodies. "I forget easily about what all is here," Jim said. His collection is so impressive, it got called up to the major leagues of collecting. "Then when the Smithsonian came I said 'well maybe it really is a museum,'" said Jim. One of the most famous museums in the world, the Smithsonian, asked Jim about his Native American collection. But instead of going to DC, his artifacts will go to the Five Civilized Tribes Museum in Oklahoma City. "These are Oklahoma tribes and they need to stay in Oklahoma," said Jim.
Only twice has Jim parted with a piece of his collection. "I gave my four kids their Micky Mantle baseballs," said Jim. He also gave away a couple of his casket flag cases. One of them went to the family of Tulsa Police Officer and Marine Corporal Jared Shoemaker. Shoemaker died on September 4th, 2006, while serving in Iraq.
"It was an IED," said his dad, Ken, while sitting next to his wife, Linda. Parents who were faced with losing there son and having to lay him to rest. "It was a whirlwind," said Linda. Hundreds of people came to the Shoemaker's side in support, including Jim who's a family friend.
"I had them (casket flag cases) and that's one of those things not knowing why I bought them and never wanted to give away," said Jim.
"He stepped up in a really special way," said Ken. Jared's military flag is now standing at attention in its case for his parents to see. "To be able to look at that case and know it came from a friend and it's with the military flag. It just means a lot," said Linda.
Photojournalist Rob Collett asked Jim if he ever thinks twice about giving up that one piece of his collection. After a long pause, and an effort to hold back his emotions, Jim quietly answered with a shaken voice "No . . . no."
So the next time you need to renew your license or pay your car tag, go see Jim at Barnes Tag Agency at 91st and Sheridan in Tulsa. If you ask, Jim might just give you a tour. He's a curator of stories, while sharing the best one his very own.