Happy Hungerford dealers
James Podger is the owner of long-established Great Grooms, a high-end, 60-dealer antiques centre housed in a Queen Anne building, pictured above, in the Berkshire town of Hungerford.
He said: “The way business is done continuously changes but traditional antiques are again selling well, albeit at greatly reduced prices, and they really do represent great value again. We have had an excellent year, with the highlights being the sale in September of four Thomas Gainsborough portraits and our 25th anniversary of Great Grooms.’’
Nothing beats the look of candles set in a pair of fine candlesticks, especially at Christmas, and Great Grooms is offering at £385 a pair of 1902 fluted sticks made by James Dixon & Sons in Sheffield in a late 18th century style.
Boom time in Banbury
In the Oxfordshire town of Banbury up until five years ago there was not a single multi-dealer shop selling antiques, mid-century and vintage. It has now experienced a regeneration with independent shops launched including art galleries and three centres: the Banbury Antiques Centre, Buzzy’s Emporium and AntiqueModernMix.
Paul Appleton, owner of the 70-dealer Banbury Antiques Centre, said: “We are approaching our fifth birthday here and are planning further expansion. I set the business up to accommodate dealers who would benefit from a packaged service rather than them bearing the large costs of a stand-alone shop. We have around 70 traders operating from here and regularly feature on BBC’s Antiques Road Trip.
“We hold regular events for our customers and Christmas is always a time when we like to push the boat out with events all through December, with mulled wine and home-made mince pies every weekend.
“We will be hosting a brass band, handbell ringers and a male voice choir. All this has become a tradition here and our customers regularly ask when the next events will take place. We have a passionate approach to the business and the team are without doubt our biggest asset.”
Paul Buzzard gave up his electrical business a few years ago and opened Buzzy’s Emporium in 2014 on the site of his former business. He said: “I have always been interested in antiques and vintage, both of which I collect. I opened the small 12-dealer centre after 60 years in the electrical trade and I have to say it’s very enjoyable and satisfying.”
Sofoklis Sofokleous, who collects mid-century furniture and design classics and owns a number of furniture and lifestyle shops, has recently opened AntiqueModernMix which he runs with daughter Charlotte and son Kyri in a Georgian building in the centre of Banbury.
This offers eight large rooms across three floors, with independent dealers either renting space or cabinets, or both, selling antiques, decorative arts and mid-century design pieces.
Thanks to Marcus Potts of Antiques at the Holt antiques fairs for news of Banbury’s antiques centres scene.