Antiques co-op opening in Bristol

BRISTOL — For Bristol’s 250th Fourth of July, the town will get a fitting addition: an antique cooperative called Antiques at 27 Main, located at 27 Main St.
And who better to spearhead this cooperative than Bristol residents and seasoned antique dealers Clarisse Shechter and Terry Thomas?
Thomas, a Bristol native whose family has run businesses out of 27 Main St. for much of the past half-century, grew a love for antiques as a little boy. He still remembers the day it all began.
“When I was eight years old, I looked down and found an old Indian head penny,” he said. “I saw that Indian on that penny and thought, ‘Wow!’ I used to go to the Merchants Bank and ask them for those pennies, but that was back in the ’40s.”
He began collecting coins and moved into the antique business as he grew older.
“I think once you get involved with antiques, you automatically have a love for them,” he said.
Not only do Thomas’ antiques have their own history, but the building he’s about to sell those antiques from is steeped in Thomas family history. In 1962, his father and uncle opened Thomas Sporting Goods at 27 Main. The store lasted for 41 years and, according to Bristol Historical Society records, closed in 2003. Thomas then opened Bristol Antiques in the same space, which stayed open from 2003-2006.
While Thomas specializes in selling furniture and coins, other dealers and consigners joining the cooperative fill antique niches like sporting goods and jewelry.
Shechter is the cooperative’s primary jewelry dealer, having run the antique jewelry shop Bejewelled in Middlebury for 26 years. Although she thought she was getting out of the storefront trade, as she was planning to sell jewelry solely on the Internet via rubylane.com, Shechter couldn’t pass up on the opportunity.
Carol Wells, a town selectwoman and director of the Bristol Downtown Community Partnership, sparked the idea. Since a fire ruined Beck’s Alley Antiques Shop in the same location in 2007, the town hasn’t had an antique shop.
“I’m always thinking about what sort of business would do well and a lot of people were sad that we didn’t have an antique store anymore,” said Wells.
In early spring, Wells called a meeting to bring local antique dealers together. Shechter was just closing up Bejewelled, but she figured she’d stop by.
“I went to the meeting and that was it,” she said. “I was sucked in.”
Just like Thomas, Shechter too is addicted to antiques.
“There’s always a story there,” she said. “They’re beautiful and well made.”
She agreed to give the two-story cooperative all of her store fixtures, and she and Thomas began guiding the new project. Six other dealers and consignors signed on, and by the end of the year the two hope that number grows to 12-15 dealers.
The store will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. everyday of the week except Tuesday, and it will open just in time for Bristol’s 250th Fourth of July festivities on Wednesday.
When asked if the store will carry any antiques that are 250-years-old, Thomas responded with a big smile.
“Just me,” he said.
Reporter Andrew Stein is at [email protected]

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