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Regional Archives The Altamont Enterprise, September 22, 2005
From the Special Section Antiques Guide
Sales, services, and food highlight fall antiques season
By Jo E. Prout
Young collectors and experienced antique-ers may find just the right piece this autumn as local dealers celebrate the leaf-looking season with sales, services, and food.
Dealer Rick Vincent, owner of Americana Antique Center in Esperance, said that his dealers offer items ranging from his specialty of Victorian smalls and glassware to country-style painted cupboards and decorative crocks.
"You don’t need a draw if someone is a collector," Vincent said. Customers looking for particular pieces stop at every antique shop, he said. Vincent owns with Americana Antique Center with his brother Bob. Rick Vincent said that centers with several dealers under one roof are popular with customers.
"There are very few single-owner shops left. People get to see more stuff in one stop," he said. The Vincents’ center has 20 showcases. "There are no new trends," Rick Vincent said. "Higher quality always sells first."
Hamilton House Antique Center owner Michelle Muia hosts 23 dealers at her Guilderland shop. While her dealers may not follow antiquing trends, they are creating services for customers who like vintage items.
"We have a wonderful bridal boutique," Muia said. Her dealer offers "vintage bridal gowns that are absolutely gorgeous," she said. The boutique also has vintage lingerie, shoes, jewelry, and clothing for mothers of brides and grooms.
The shop even has someone who can work with a bride on alterations to the gowns that may not be the exact size needed. The seamstress can also repair small tears, Muia said.
A separate entrepreneur cuts up irreparable wedding gowns and creates fancy bridal bags for wedding gift cards. In describing the bags, Muia simply said, "They’re awesome."
Hamilton House offers "cases and spaces" within 14 rooms in a two-story Victorian house setting, Muia said. When she bought the eight-year-old business last year, Muia added two rooms to the building.
"One of our new rooms is a vintage kitchen room," she said. She began with a kitchen table from the 1950’s and has added all sorts of retro items to it since. "People have a lot of fun in that room," she said.
Hamilton House dealers offer vintage toys, sports collectibles, decorative garden elements in a room of their own, and staples like jewelry and glassware.
"We have fantastic art -- beautiful art," Muia said.
Muia’s own specialty is furniture. "I just buy what I like," she said. "Generally, if I like it, most of my customers like it." She sells a lot of Victorian furniture, but also pieces from the 1950’s.
"Right now, we’re getting a lot of young people first-time home buyers. They look for good quality furniture you can’t buy in stores now," she said. They also look for glassware that reminds them of their parents and their grandparents, she said.
"Apartment dwellers love the retro look. Grandma’s kitchen, basically," Muia said. "A lot of people just stop because they’re curious. People think antiques are untouchable, but they are usable. All are usable, right down to a tea cup."
Kate Halasz, the owner of Aunt Katie’s Attic on Amsterdam Road in Scotia, describes her antiques similarly. Her website logo at auntkatiesattic.com features the slogan, "fun. funky. functional."
"I specialize in vintage kitchen, but also in affordable, fun, funky merchandise -- eclectic," she told The Enterprise. "It’s a multi-dealer shop"with everything from vintage appliances, chrome toasters, and coffeemakers. We sell Fiestaware." She assured The Enterprise that the appliances still work, and that the Fiestaware is not radioactive.
Halasz said that her shop dealers offer a unique variety of items.
"It’s not your standard ordinary"but going back into your childhood, seeking things from your grandmother’s house a lot of kitsch. But, it’s more. We go in a lot of different directions," she said. "The store is artfully organized. Everything is designed with a color or a theme. Each section has a little vignette going on."
The shop has a 1940-1950’s bedroom set up, "to give people an idea on how to decorate," Halasz said. "I grew up with all this stuff. I love it."
Her teen customers find affordable flower-power items from the 1960’s and 1970’s. "A couch, pillows"the real wacky, kitschy stuff, and the jewelry," Halasz said.
Her dealers also offer country-kitchen items, and "primitives" like cupboards with rustic finishes. She described the country look as "kind of beat up, like in the magazine Country Living. Some people love the shabby chic look." She said, "We have some Victorian, because people like it."
One popular item sold at Aunt Katies Attic is head vases, which are flower vases in the shape of a womans head, Halasz said.
"I really like people to come in and have fun, even if they don’t buy anything," she said. "It brings them back to a happy time."
Halasz will host one of her three annual open houses on Oct. 8, to celebrate being in business for 10 years.
"Actually, it’s like a party, and a big sale, too."
Deals for dealers
Black Sheep Antique Center is hosting Apple Fest at its shop the following day, Oct. 9. Owner Mary Jane Breedlove, who is also a dealer at the center, said that the fest will feature sales in the shop, appraisals, and doughnuts and cider for customers.
For collectors eager for December shopping, Black Sheep Antique Center has a Holiday Open House on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, when the dealers offer "a lot of good, homemade food, and a lot of sales"and holiday cheer."
The holiday event is only fitting for Breedlove, whose dealers sell a variety of goods including vintage holiday pieces.
"We have a variety of merchandise in here: jewelry, furniture, some collectibles, but mostly antiques," Breedlove said. The shop is housed in three floors in one section of the building, and in two floors in another section.
"I like holiday items, doorstops, and country painted furniture," she said. The furniture in the center ranges in age from late 18th Century to the 1970’s.
Black Sheep is thoroughly modern: A small portion of its business comes from eBay sales. "We do consignment at the shop," Breedlove said.
She will transact business online for her customers who want to sell their items. She will also buy from them directly, "if they want to sell something," she said. She buys art work, preferring floral art work and still lifes, as well as cupboards and country pieces.
"We sell a lot to dealers here" because Black Sheep items are priced affordably, she said. "All kinds of things go out of here." Country items are very popular now, as are silver and estate jewelry, she said.
Breedlove encouraged newcomers to antiques who may be looking for certain items to "become as knowledgeable as you can by reading and looking a lot. See as many as you possibly can. You come to recognize reproductions or a price that is out of whack. It’s a learning experience."
Breedlove is looking for new dealers to rent center space that is rarely available, she said. One new dealer on the third floor appeals to customers, Breedlove said. "She’s got a great look about her space. She’s attentive," Breedlove said.
Like many of the dealers, Breedlove has been in the antique business for several decades because of her collecting interests.
The Vincents at Americana Antique Center celebrated their first anniversary in business in May, although Rick Vincent has been in the business for much longer. "I’ve been dealing in antiques since I was 17. I had a like of it," he said.
Muia, too, is celebrating her first year as owner of an antique center.
"We’ve had a wonderful year. It’s just great," she said. "It’s a lot of fun."
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