When the sandwich board open sign appears on the corner of Warren’s Water and Broad streets, it’s safe to say Nick Heywood can be found inside the Nick Haus Shop, a narrow two-story building featuring a treasure trove of antiques, art, and conversation pieces curated by the perennial collector. An adjunct professor of interior architecture at his alma mater Rhode Island School of Design, Heywood’s love of collecting started at a young age. As with any consuming passion, he needed a place where he could showcase items for sale; thus, a former piano tuner’s workshop dating back to 1890 became the home of Nick Haus Shop in 2016. NickHaus.com, Instagram: @nickhausshop
Childhood Hobby: I have memories of collecting antiques when I was four, but it probably started before then. My mom was very into antiques. We spent a lot of time going to antique stores, and we always lived in old houses, which we were constantly working on. In the midwest, “old” to me was 100 years, so moving to Rhode Island was so extraordinary.
Sweat Equity: In 2011, we bought our house with the intention of the little building to be a shop. It was really pretty derelict. The people we bought the house from tried a few times to tear the building down. Various people in the town said, “No, no, please don’t, we love this little building.” And they didn’t [tear it down], thank goodness! It had never had a foundation of any sort, just sitting on the earth and listing slightly. Every surface of the exterior had to be touched in some way. It was a labor of love. I opened [Nick Haus Shop] around 2016.
New Generation: I have a lot of younger shoppers. I get clients who have not conventionally bought antiques. They may wander in and see something they like. I carry things that are versatile and small, which sort of speaks to the contemporary moment even if those things are quite old.
One of a Kind: I look for things I haven’t seen before. Often I hear people come in and say, “Oh, this is so curious. I’ve never seen anything quite like this or that” – and the reason is that neither have I. Currently I have a shark tooth sword from the Gilbert Islands dating back to the 1860s or ‘70s. It has grips made out of shagreen materials from animals who died 150 years ago.
Local Talent: I have several paintings by Henry Newell Cady who is a known late 19th century early 20th century painter from Warren. The paintings are especially interesting because they are scenes that are quite local. Typically his oils are absolutely enormous. The paintings [which are smaller] are probably studies.
Customer Confidence: I think a real aspect of owning a shop is when someone adores something but they just don’t feel confident enough in themselves to take it home to enjoy; they need the confidence [from me] to love it.
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