By now, everyone in the eight-planet solar system has probably heard some version of the New York Post’s gossip item claiming a Bruce Springsteen-Patti Scialfa split is in the works.

The story, sexed-up with tantalizing hints of another redhead—this one a Sept. 11 widow—hit the wires and got picked up all over the place, including a Romanian publication that had trouble spelling Bruce’s last name. Wikipedia’s entry on Scialfa has already been updated with the gossip (though it was curiously absent from Springsteen’s bio this morning).

But the couple spent more than an hour shopping yesterday at the Antique Center of Red Bank, and appeared to be having a rockin’ good time together, redbankgreen has learned.

Store owner Guy Johnson says he was at home, having just read the rumor in the Asbury Park Press, when one of his employees called to tell him that Scialfa and Springsteen were in the shop.

“I said, ‘Are they fighting?’ She said, ‘No! They’re holding hands and laughing and going up and down the aisles picking stuff out,’ ” Johnson reports.

The couple, who have homes in Rumson and Colts Neck, dropped “at least $3,000” on a sterling silver set and other decorative items, says Johnson. Bruce put the tab on his black MasterCard.

It seems that Springsteen and Scialfa were doing pretty much what they always do. They’ve been customers of the warehouse-like antiques emporium for years, Johnson says. Sometimes they shop together, but Patti also likes to peruse the 30-percent-off tables solo or with her mother, he says.

Bruce has also shown up stag “just before Christmas, picking up stuff for Patti or whatever, every year for the past six or seven years,” says Johnson. “He’s pretty much a regular in the place.”

Was this shopping spree a PR ploy meant to quell the talk of marital discord? Who knows? But as Johnson sees it, if Springsteen and Scialfa were hoping to generate counter-buzz to the gossip, they picked a strange place and time for it, as there were few customers in the store when they dropped in.

Springsteen is aparently fond of the pre-owned markets, by the way. Earlier this month, one of the Princeton Packet newspapers ran a story about an antiques dealer in East Windsor who said Springsteen had “filled his house in Rumson” with items purchased at that shop.

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