Attention all banana aficionados, one of the world's largest collections of banana-themed items can be had for a song.
After failing to sell the collection on eBay for $45,000, Ken Bannister, founder and curator of the International Banana Club Museum in Hesperia, has lowered the opening bid of a new eBay auction to $15,000.
"It's hard for me to accept," Bannister said, "but I do not have another location set up, and I choose not to put all these treasures into storage."
Bannister decided last month to liquidate his collection, which he began in the early 1970s, after the Hesperia Recreation and Park District informed him that his month-to-month rental agreement would soon end. The park district will be expanding its John Swisher historical collection at the Harrison Exhibit Building, where Bannister displays thousands of banana items.
Since the initial announcement, Bannister has been interviewed by several publications and TV programs. Huel Howser, host of the PBS travel show "California's Gold," told Bannister that he would try to come up with a solution. And Bannister expects an article to appear shortly in the Wall Street Journal.
According to Bannister, the Guiness Book of World Records acknowledges the museum as the world's largest collection devoted to any one fruit. Bannister, a real estate agent who lives in Apple Valley, has appeared on nearly 100 TV shows including the "Tonight Show" featuring Johnny Carson.
Museum items range from banana rings, pipes, wooden banana trees, cups, glasses, clocks, records, tapes, knives, telephones and Bannister's ubiquitous banana golf putter.
"I really would like to see someone or some company acquire the content and continue to make it available for all people to view somewhere in California or Nevada," Bannister said.
The International Banana Museum is located at 16367 Main St., Hesperia.Admission is free and hours are Tuesday, Thursday and the first Saturday each month from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Visitors are greeted by Glen Speer, the facility's resident T.B. (Top Banana).
For more information, call 760-244-5488.