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Start an antiques business?

By Dorsey, 02/21/2016 - 10:08
Mary and Dick Wilmarth of Wilmarth's Antiques

Mary and Dick Wilmarth launched their antiques business after years of working for NASA.

Jami: "I want to start an antiques business."

Me: "Uh huh." (paying that sort of half-hearted attention that husbands reserve for when their wives say something crazy).

The next day, packages started being delivered.

"Oh crap," she's serious, I thought.

And sure enough, she was.

The thing you have to know about my wife is that when she decides to do something, she will throw herself into it with a fervor that rivals our golden retriever, Indy, attacking a bone.

I watched in admiration as over the next weeks and months, she totally immersed herself in everything antiques. She studied, she questioned, she plotted and planned. I already knew she was intelligent, but her ability to absorb new material left me in awe. I wish I could somehow acquire that laser-focus when I'm trying to learn something new.

In truth, it's not like antiques are a totally new concept for us. My parents were very successful antiques dealers in Texas for many years. My mom and dad, Mary and Dick Wilmarth, built a well-respected business (Wilmarth's Antiques) after long careers working at NASA. As a teenager, I was pressed into service to help move furniture in and out of the weekend shows that they would do when first establishing their business. I don't know how many Round Top shows I attended in the old Rifleman's Hall, but I can still remember the smell of the burgers being cooked and being glad we weren't setting up a booth out in the tent when it rained and ground became mushy.

My parents instilled a love of antiques in me, but I never saw myself actually going into the business.

My wife, though, had different plans, and here we are. We're fortunate that even though my dad is no longer with us, my mom is still going strong, and although mostly retired from the business, she has eagerly agreed to help guide us through our early years as we try to build the business. You can't buy experience like that.

At first, I might have been a little reluctant and maybe even a little doubtful, but now I'm excited. I've caught my wife's enthusiasm, and I can't wait to see how this plays out. While I know she is going to have to shoulder the bulk of the work, I'm looking forward to this becoming "our thing" that we can share for the rest of our lives, much like it was for my parents.

I hope you'll follow along with us on this journey.