With the impact of Covid and now the cost of living crisis, businesses across the country have been forced to adapt in order to survive.
One such business is the 25 year old Antiques Center on the corner of Ilkeston Road in Heanor and it is still very much alive and thriving, with a steady community.
This building is not only steeped in history, but now houses a plethora of collectible and dated pieces. It has over 200 antique shops, 140 6-foot display cases and furniture, and 3,000 square feet of glass display cases.
It really is a sight to behold, click here to see more.
The owner of this marvelous “Aladdin’s cave” is Jane Richards. She brought the building in 1998, converted it into an antique center and has owned it ever since.
I went for a tour of the center – without which I would certainly have gotten lost with its many floors and corridors – and chatted with her about the history behind the building, the Covid issues and of course all the antiquing.
“We like to run the center with the phrase ‘A budget for any pocket’, some of the stuff here is fifty pence so someone can come here with ten pounds, come to the cafe, have a coffee and a sandwich and buy something even if they have little pocket money. I think it’s pretty good that you don’t need a big budget. says Jeanne.
“On the other hand, people from all over the world come here, Americans, Europeans, people from all over Asia and most of our audience being Chinese.
“They ship quite a few items that we resell in China and can buy up to 1,000 items at a time on a regular basis, but the process takes time because the buyer likes to see the items filmed and previewed before asking someone to buy their.
“I have three types of customers. I have the general public who got us through Covid because they loved coming here. I have the dealers in England who come from all over the UK to buy and then we ‘I have the internationals.
“The general public had a big pocket right after Covid so we reopened pretty well and that helped tremendously. Not to mention we staffed it with our family once we reopened and it was run like a business family for a month until we can bring all the staff back.” she added.
“Although the most expensive items we’ve ever had have been around four to five thousand dollars, I don’t see us in that area. It’s not really our audience, it’s quite common for things to be a thousand and a half, but it’s a very limited audience.”
I asked how a business like this could stay afloat, especially in times of crisis, and she explained, “We’ve owned the building for 25 years and when we first brought it in, the internet was only in its infancy. So there was no eBay people had So it was quite different at first we tried the whole eBay thing but the packaging process and the complications that it’s now of our articles made us stop that pretty quickly.
She continued, “Over the last five to ten years, we’ve had what we call the vintage or retro brigade. So people around your age (26) like these vintage items and everything looks good on them. This is where the Internet and our instagram is really helpful. People used to say you weren’t as good as your last ad and so our social media is really helping us with that.”
See this post on Instagram
I asked what the center’s impact was on the region after its impressive 25-year tenure and Jane explained: “A lot of people who work here have a story, a lot of clients came when they were younger and some of the dealers were there when we opened.
“I think so much has happened in Heanor in terms of shops, that locals like to think that a small business is still going on in town because there’s so much change.”
“We almost have our own community of people who specifically come to see us, come in for a drink, buy or sell a little something and it all goes on.”
The building itself, aside from the few adjoining extensions, has quite a rich history as Jane told me: ‘It was late Georgian housing and a church, then there were stores placed in the front where the accommodations were, then it was ran like undertaker with tombstones and coffins at the windows.
“Subsequently in World War I it was used as a hospital and then in World War II it was an ammunition storage depot followed by a tram depot and finally a Machin and Hartwell store in 1952 (which had an unexploded bomb found from ammunition storage in 1970) and then we brought it in 1998.”
However, there are downsides to being placed on the corner of a traffic light, as Jane told me: “We had a vehicle through the front window twice, the first time four years ago, it nearly killed three people, swept away the entire facade of the building on a shopping-packed Saturday, which went viral on YouTube.
“The following year during an early morning snowstorm, a car lost control, fell and ran through the windows that had just been replaced!”
Jane explained that in addition to the cost of replacing all the stonework and windows, there was also £5,000 of antiques destroyed in the accidents.
I naturally asked which item had been around the longest and Jane replied, “It’s a little dog with a kennel that’s been there since the very beginning and hasn’t sold in all that time, so I’m going to ‘ve put in the office.”
“At the end of the day, we are keepers.” she says. “We simply move an item to its next stage of life.”
The Heanor Antiques Center is open Monday to Sunday from 10:30am to 4:30pm and is a very welcoming and interesting visit. If you’ve never been to an antique center before, I would definitely recommend this to be your first.