We caught up with Hamish Gunn, owner of The Finer Consigner in Middletown to pick his brain regarding vintage finds.
What sets your shop apart from others of its kind?
The warm, friendly atmosphere when you walk into the Finer Consigner; it’s a contributing factor to how you start your treasure hunting experience with us.
What inspired you to start your consignment store?
I’ve been known to gather, hide and store things ever since I can remember. On our farm in New Zealand, I buried a bunch of old silver in one of my father’s tobacco cans. That was 48 years ago. Dad sold the farm a year later; I bet all the old coins are still there.
How’s it going so far?
A lot of people say, "Oh, I’ve always wanted to open a restaurant because it looks like so much fun." Well, I did [follow my passion] and it was the toughest thing I’ve ever taken on.
So then, was it always your plan?
I was in a consignment store off the island looking for a desk. I was about to buy it for $180 when I noticed that there were different prices on the tag. "Aha!" I thought to myself, "If I wait 37 more days, I can own this piece for $108." I decided to take my chances and wait. Thirty-eight days later, the desk was sold right before I got there. You snooze you lose. Driving home disgruntled, I kept thinking about the reduction model; that started the ball in motion. The rest, as they say, is history.
How do you find most of the items in your store?
I find my inventory in many different ways. Estate sales are quite common, but more commonly, from downsizing. Many boomers are trying not to do what their parents did to them and are clearing out the old treasures. Gone are the days of: "One day this will be worth a lot of money," or "I paid a lot for that before I met your mother."
So how does the treasure get from there to here?
I have a big box truck and I can empty a house in a couple of days if I have to. Storage units can be fun. I’ve paid good money for a lot of garbage as well.
What’s been the most interesting piece you’ve consigned recently?
We had a Jane Pickens queen size bed in here a few weeks ago. That was probably our most famous piece.
Any exciting tales of the trade you’d care to share?
One day a bloke walked in with a guitar neck sticking out of a sail bag. His ex-wife put it in storage and he wanted a few hundred for it. Being a guitar player myself, I recognized the headstock as an old Gibson. I called a collector mate of mine. It turned out to be one of the first Gibson guitars made after the mandolins in 1907.
Amazing. Did it sell for more than he expected?
My mate sold it for him for a few thousand. He was a very happy consignor. 1224 West Main Rd., Middletown. 401-849-9162.