Ian Collinge: “overheads keep me awake”.

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IN a new series looking through the keyhole of ‘bricks and mortar’ shops in 2017, ATG talks to Nick Collinge of Collinge Antiques in Llandudno, North Wales

What’s the history of Collinge Antiques? I grew up down the road in Colwyn Bay and I’ve been managing this shop for over 35 years. The opportunity to buy this warehouse came up in 1990 and I went for it. My idea was to create a sort of antiques superstore, a big place where you could have whole room settings and everything would be for sale.

Advantages of owning your premises? This building cost me £90,000 in auction from British Rail. Must have saved me a fortune over the years. But the overheads on a place like this would keep you awake at night.

How involved are you, as owner? There are nine of us and I’m here some part of most days, but my chief role is the buying. But I do my share of lifting and I’m definitely the best at packing a van.

How important is passing trade? Passing trade used to be all you had and we’re not exactly on the high street here. Nowadays we’re dealing with customers all over the world via email. We had a guy from Turkmenistan buy from us the other day.

How does the website support the shop? The website is crucial to the business now and we work as hard at that as we do keeping the shop looking good – we upload three new things every day, which takes some effort. But plenty of customers prefer to see things in the flesh before they purchase and you’ve got to keep your stock somewhere. So I think they complement each other very nicely.

Why should people buy from shops as opposed to, say, auctions or fairs? Customer service and price. Anything you buy at auction is likely to need some work doing to it and the prices at fairs are high because of the costs of having a stand. We have three full-time restorers here so we do the work that needs doing before an object is offered for sale. And we’ll deliver it too.

How often do you restock and from where? I’m buying all the time really. Mainly in the north-west, but I do the big trade fairs here and in France too.