COLUMN: The New Year at Shady Lawn Antiques

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The antiques business is a business like no other. The acquisition, cleaning and display of antiques present unique challenges. This is due to the fact that antiques shops almost always sell one-of-a-kind items.

When a furniture store sells a dresser, they can keep their show-room display intact. They just deliver the exact same dresser from their warehouse storage. An antiques shop can’t do that.

Many individual antiques shop (not antique mall) owners have developed a solution to these inventory/display challenges. They close their stores for regularly scheduled breaks. During their breaks, they process new inventory and create new displays.

Klicker’s has a winter break from Christmas to March 1st. They also close in early November to set up their Christmas display. Judy, of Patina, in Richland, takes seasonal breaks to completely re-set her shop.

We close Shady Lawn Antiques from Christmas to Valentine’s Day for our Annual Winter Furniture Restoration Break. We especially focus on the restoration of furniture that will fill “holes” in our inventory. This includes replacing pieces that were recently sold as well as restoring unique, rarely seen furniture.

However, we are not totally focused on furniture restoration during our break. The sales area gets some serious attention as well. This is the one time of the year when we can make major changes to our displays.

For any antiques shop owner, making major display changes implies the creation of a big mess and chaos before order can be restored. This includes furniture stacked in aisles and small items piled onto any available surface. None of this can occur while a shop is open for business.

There is not a single antiques shop owner that doesn’t wish for more floor space! It would be awesome to have the luxury to highlight outstanding pieces of furniture in a pristine, uncluttered space. However, that is not an option for most, if not all, of us.

With the exception of the sparse mid-century look, that is not a reality for homeowners either. Our solution is to group similarly-styled furniture and accessories together. Thoughtfully organized display vignettes make a greater design/display impact than the visual chaos of random mismatched items.

We begin to build our displays around our large pieces of furniture. Then we place other pieces of a similar age and/or style around them. Smaller pieces of a similar style are then nestled around the larger pieces. The issue is that in order to maintain coherent furniture displays, it is never a one-for-one move.

This being said, it should be no surprise that Shady Lawn is currently in the midst of major furniture reshuffling. Currently, our Arts and Crafts furniture is scattered about the store. This happened because when we sold a piece of furniture, the easiest thing was to just put a newly restored piece in its place.

The organization of our A&C furniture is logically the major focus of our display efforts during the current break. However, the furniture shuffle that is involved in this effort will also enable us to “tighten-up” the look of several other displays at the same time.

Perhaps the greatest thing about Shady Lawn is our old building (not to diminish the family heritage). But the most inconvenient thing is that all of the floors slope toward the floor drains. The sloping floors were great when the building was used for creamery production. They are not so great for displaying furniture on. Every piece we move has to have wooden shim-blocks put under its legs to make it level.

By the time that we complete our new A&C furniture display, we will have moved (and leveled) at least two dozen pieces of furniture. Not only the furniture, but everything in and on it will also have been moved and redisplayed.

We think that you will enjoy our new displays when our break ends and we reopen on Valentine’s Day! We will have new inventory, new furniture, new displays, and we will be open for the first time in 2020 — that sounds like a new year to me. Please join us for a bite of chocolate as you browse through our new Shady Lawn displays.

Fifth-generation Walla Wallan Dave Emigh owns Shady Lawn Antiques. Glimpses of the store’s ever-changing inventory can be seen on Facebook. Shady Lawn Antiques will reopen (for 2020) on Valentine’s Day. Shady Lawn Antiques is open for business from 10 a.m. — 5 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday.