NORWAY – Eric White of South Paris said that he has always had a fascination with antiques, vintage collectibles and reselling items, a hobby that has evolved over the years into Vintiques of Maine, a Main Street business that sells an assortment of vintage wares, antiques, and oddities, many of which are one-of-a-kind.
“My parents did yard sales and flea markets and would try to get bargains on stuff,” White said. “Ever since I was a kid, I was interested in buying and reselling.”
White said that he opened Vintiques three years ago near Goin’ Postal, a local shipping center, on Main Street, and in Sept. 2017, he outgrew the space and moved to its current location on 312 Main Street.
Before that, White said that he owned and operated a pawn shop in Massachusetts, and worked as a retail manager for 14 years.
Three years ago, he said he decided to take his money and put it into opening Vintiques of Maine.
For the seven years that White has lived in Maine, he said that he has found the Oxford Hills to have a “laid-back feel” that “lends to a vibe that makes people want to go antique shopping.”
“The town is pretty old and has its history, which also lends to that laid-back, comfortable vibe,” he added.
White said that he gets a lot of his antiques and collectibles by “treasure hunting.”
“We’ve all seen the show ‘American Pickers,’” White said. “Treasure hunting is similar to that. People invite us into their homes, businesses or storage units and let us go through their stuff and pick out items we like. We also go to local auctions, and of course, yard sales, garage sales and flea markets. Those are all good places to look for stuff.”
He said that he relies a lot on social media to get tips on where to look for “treasure.”
While White’s favorite type of antiques includes “mechanical-type stuff,” such as “old typewriters and turnstile phonographs,” Vintiques of Maine “buys anything other than furniture or glassware.”
Vintiques of Maine is just one of three stores on Main Street that sell antiques or collectibles, White said.
There is also Widdershins Antique Store at 329 Main Street, which opened in January, and Food for Thought Books and Records on 446 Main Street.
“I think it’s important for the three of us to work well together,” White said. “There are so many options in this area for antique shoppers to go and buy stuff. Route 26 is practically antique alley. There are probably four or five group shops down there, and they are large ones. It’s nice to have us three on Main Street, because we can pull a small portion of those people to Norway. It helps us out to work together, because we can send business to each other if one of us doesn’t have something.”
White also lauded Norway Downtown, a non-profit organization dedicated to revitalizing Main Street, and its role in drawing attention to Vintiques of Maine, Widdershins, and other Main Street stores.
“(Norway Downtown) has done a great job of pulling traffic off of Route 26 and getting them into Norway,” White said. “They do a really great job with advertising and marketing what’s happening on Main Street.”
White said that he would like to continue to increase Vintiques’ online presence, something he views as tantamount to successfully running a business in the 21st century.
“Right now, there’s Amazon, which 49 percent of people buy from, and eBay, which people buy from a lot too,” White said. “Facebook has their Marketplace now. Businesses have to stay relevant and be on social media. Otherwise, they’ll fade and fall by the wayside.”
He said that “it wouldn’t hurt to have a second store either.”
“If the retail space was available here on Main Street, I would do it,” White said. “It would give me more space to put out antiques.”
White said that he was also looking for one more “dependable, trust-worthy” person to help out at the store.
“It needs to be somebody who is as excited and enthusiastic about the story of each item as we are,” White said.
Most of all, White said that the store is “always, always, always looking for unique items to buy from people.”
“For me, everything is about my kids and the business,” White said. “If anyone has any cool and vintage items that are unique, we’re the place to take it.”