The current craze for all things vintage has put homeowners of all ages on the hunt for the perfect accent piece or antique accouterment to complement their houses. Benefit Street Antiques may just have what they’re looking for. The perfect place to browse for gorgeous antique home furnishings and the like, this spacious and well-organized antique and appraisal shop has everything from chandeliers, rugs, paintings and furniture to glassware, dishes and china. It’s constantly updated with new treasures, like Italian hand-painted pottery and Adam Calyx ware. Originally opened 24 years ago (on the corner of Benefit and Wickenden), Benefit Street Antiques moved to its current location, a bit further up Wickenden, five years back, and is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. Owner and home furnishing connoisseur Marian Clark gives us a peek into the business of buying and selling antiques.
Why did you decide to open an antique shop?
I’ve always had an interest in antiques and came from a family that had their own business. I was working for a nonprofit at the time and had a friend who had previously owned an antique shop. She asked me if I wanted to go into business, and we kept the name of her former shop. I bought the business from her about ten years ago.
Where do you find the items you sell in the shop?
We are not a consignment shop – I buy antiques outright from local homes. Most are from older people who are downsizing. I tell them, “After your children and grandchildren have taken everything they want, then give me a call.” That’s how I get things.
Is there a decade or time period that most of your antiques are from?
I try to buy things that are older – 1940 or before. I like to purchase many turn of the century pieces. I have quite a few things from the 19th century in the shop.
Is there anything in particular that people look for when coming into the store?
The home fashion business is just like the clothing business – things go in and out of style. You never know when a “fad” is going to start or stop. I buy classical things, because people are always looking for them. I can always sell a nice couch, wing chair or chaise, and many people like older lamps as opposed to more modern ones.
What is “in style” for home furnishing?
I think mid-century furniture is in style. There’s also a big fascination with names, just like in fashion. People want Tiffany glass and Picasso ceramics are very “in.”