Christian is a walking Wikipedia! He can narrate the historical context for everything in his shop like a true storyteller. His journey in the antique industry began in his 20s when he got hooked on the history of art while helping his father. “My dad collected a lot of Japanese art, so I would help him research things and look into it further.”
He recalls the first estate that enchanted him when he was looking for antiques: “It was a treasure trove of the time period that the family had lived from the 1860s to the 1980s. From the floor to ceiling, it was full of art works, book collections, family history– it was a part of so many social and political changes in America!”
Trust is very important in the business, and Christian explains his philosophy as a broker: “There’s an honesty issue with the Internet because everyone can see the price. The Internet has changed how things go. You can’t buy it for $100 and sell it for $1,000. People always ask me when they sell their stuff: did I sell it for too cheap? They feel a little hollow inside. So I sell it for them on a commission basis. I’ll take a photo of it, put it online, and let customers get in touch directly.”
While antiques retain their value by staying the same, businesses have to stay fresh and contemporary. “Rent has been staggering! I’ve coped by moving online for 7 to 8 years now. It’s changing so much. Businesses need to adapt to social media otherwise they’re going to fail. We’re not about to return to the abacus anytime soon!”
Instagram has been a useful way to connect with customers. “Sometimes I’ll be at an estate taking photos of things that people want to sell, and before I even leave the place, there’ll be messages from people saying they want to buy it!”
He has advice for business owners: “To get better at business, you just have to keep doing it… and get better at it!”
The owners of Milk & Ice – a vintage clothes boutique – have recently joined forces with Christian at a new location since their collections blend well together. “Christian has outgrown this space, the store is eating him up!” Their collaborative energy has brought out the best of their trades where different relics of the past are given coherence in one space.
Christian will be happy to narrate interesting tidbits on the eclectic collections in his shop – from Marvel May comic books, blood-letting instruments from the Civil War, and old band posters. “I can talk about it endlessly because I like it. It’s not just a job. I genuinely love history.”
You’ll want to check out the rest of the cool stuff that Christian brings together at his shop– it’s constantly changing! Look for “Sturgis Antiques” on Facebook and Instagram, or go directly to his website!
If you enjoyed this peek into Christian’s business, you’ll probably enjoy the stunning photoshoot in Shopkeepers’ Stories! We’re on Facebook and Instagram— see ya there!