CHESTER, Vt. – Vermont Picker Antiques owner John Stark has been doing flea markets and antique shows for about 10 years, but the packing, travel, set up, tear down, and hauling can make even a favorite hobby, somewhat of a grind. Now he’s got a shop right on Route 103, just as you’re heading into the Stone Village in Chester where folks can now come to him. “I wanted a place where I can put all my stuff and leave it there,” he said.
Open for just three weeks, the shop is a charming mix of antique furniture, decorative pieces, and other smaller gift items. The variety and price range are intentional so that locals and out-of-town visitors can find a unique piece regardless of their budget. Furniture includes antique jelly cabinets, dressers, trunks, spinning wheel, and several rocking chairs. Smaller items like pitchers, baskets, cast iron dogs, lanterns, tins, and jars are also displayed throughout the store. Currently old skis, sleds, and snowshoes are on display and all being offered at a special discount. Other discoveries like a worn leather harness with antique jingle bells and a jaunty black felt top hat perched on a wooden coat rack are just a few examples of those items that enthrall those who take the time to look and linger.
The thoughtful layout of the store and how his treasures are displayed are all thanks to his wife of 42 years Carol, whom Stark freely acknowledges is “the love of my life for sure.” According to Stark, “She has a passion for designing the space and she likes choosing and buying the art.”
Buying and selling antiques “starts as a hobby and becomes a passion,” said Stark who previously maintained several booths at Stone House Antiques in Chester and at Next Generation Antiques in Windsor. Now, with his own store, he continues to work with other antique pickers and dealers in the area. According to Stark, it’s a tight knit community with each antique dealer typically specializing in certain categories.
His specialty is furniture with a focus on antique chairs. “I understand the value of a chair,” said Stark, who looks for expensive, undervalued chairs and then turns around and sells them in his shop. Since opening three weeks ago, he has sold four rocking chairs and has many more in his shop and off-site storage barn. Another interest is cast iron dogs and cats, used primarily as doorstops and boot scrapers, which he feels are trending now.
Although Stark knows his antiques and what they could sell for in other shops, there are some special finds in this store with prices that are very surprising. The reason is that John Stark will pass along his good fortune to his customers. If he finds a piece at a great price, the selling price reflects that. “I’m a flea market guy…I like to make stuff go away,” he said.
Vermont Picker Antiques is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. You can follow specials and what new items are coming into the store on Facebook at www.facebook.com/vermontpickerantiques.