STEWART Hofgartner is sporting suede creepers today, as he does every day, along with one of his long drapejacketed Teddy Boy or Edwardian dandy outfits which he wears to flamboyant effect in his shop.
He runs Below Stairs in Hungerford and appears on ITV’s antiques and collectables show, Dickinson’s Real Deal.
An antiques dealer for 35 years, Hofgartner has been an on-screen expert on the show since it started 13 years ago. “I absolutely love it,” he said. “It’s so much fun – just like being in the shop.”
Below Stairs is five rooms packed with 19th and 20th century pieces, all set around a courtyard, together with two workshops. The place is so full that Hofgartner can’t really count just how much stock he has, although there are 5000 pieces online.
He buys privately, his profile enhanced not only by Real Deal, but by his long presence in the town.
As a boy, Hofgartner scoured the junk shops and car boots near his Middlesex home buying vintage kitchenware from the money he earned from his paper and grocery rounds.
After a career at WH Smith in charge of newspaper distribution at Heathrow Airport, he landed in this Berkshire town. He had accumulated so much stuff that he took a unit at the Hungerford Arcade, the newlyopened antiques centre.
He traded there for two years before opening his own shop in the town 38 years ago.
He said: “Nothing sells quite as it used to but I now sell a lot of architectural and interior fittings and lighting here.
“And Hungerford is thriving on the antiques scene with plenty of dealers and lots of choice.”