Go retro to give new life to old treasures
SINCE the day his grandmother bequeathed him her Wedgwood gravy boat, Grant Quinn has nurtured a passion for all things antique and vintage.
"I was a teenager when my grandmother gave me the item.
"It had belonged to her mother. I can remember being fascinated by the history behind it," he said.
"When it comes to antiquities, I don't mind if something is chipped or cracked or if there is a nick in the timber - for me, that's where the stories come from.
"If an item is in perfect condition it hasn't lived."
The 49-year-old's love of antiques has led him to become an experienced dealer and co-owner of Ipswich store The Vintage Advantage.
A quick rummage through the shop's shelves, hangers and cabinets uncovers treasures from the past; from safari suits to crystal sets to memorabilia from the golden age of childhood.
"My initial vision for the store was to establish it as your typical antique shop filled with old Victorian and Edwardian furniture and furnishings," he said.
"I wanted the type of shop that was dark, dingy and smelt really musty like grandma's closet - because that's what I love personally.
"But if we had set the shop up like that, the reality was we'd probably be out of business within six months."
To avoid that, Mr Quinn said he had to change his way of thinking when it came to what products to offer.
"Stocking traditional antique items isn't enough.
"People don't really seem into that dark brown furniture or old English-style stuff at the moment," he said.
"There's a chance it could come back into fashion but what is popular at the moment is all things retro."
As a result Mr Quinn and co-owner Glen Smith filled their store with not only antiques but a broad range of vintage collectables and fashion as well.
"When you think about the word antique it conjures up images of dusty, 100-year-old stuff, but retro items are only 50 to 60 years old," he said.
"Retro clothing is a big seller right now. So is anything from the industrial age and cane furniture is making a big comeback too."
Mr Quinn said the antique business was driven a lot by current trends.
"We once had a run of people wanting industrial light shades, simply because it was featured on a series of The Block," Mr Quinn said.
"We had about 30 of those light shades and got rid of every single one of them.
"When Sherlock Holmes came out on film, everyone wanted the Sherlock Holmes hat.
"Ipswich's annual Gaslight Parade has people wanting goggles from the industrial age.
"When something becomes hip and cool, everyone wants it."
Though his store has maintained a good flow of customer traffic, Mr Quinn said the number of Ipswich antique shops had dwindled.
"The city used to be filled with antique and second-hand type stores," he said.
"Now all that really remains is us, the Ipswich Antiques Centre and a few other stores including op-shops."
It's disappointing news for younger antique enthusiasts like Katrina Dunner, who makes regular trips to stores like The Vintage Advantage.
The 18-year-old from Blacksoil said she had a penchant for anything vintage and one day hoped to open her own antique store.
"Through my parents and my grandparents I grew up around a lot of old-style stuff and developed an interest in antiques that way," she said.
"The first vintage thing I can remember owning was a pair of 1920s gloves which my grandmother owned. I still have them."
Miss Dunner said she preferred to do her shopping at antique stores rather than big shopping centres.
"It allows you to discover unique items that you wouldn't normally find in other stores," Miss Dunner said.
"At Christmas, for example, I bought my father a book from the 1800s. He's in love with it," she said.
"There's a lot of great items with really interesting history behind them to be found."