Finding pieces of history that have a story is a thrill for Sonja Nielsen and Jim Gammon, owners of
Den of Antiquities at 1399 Bridgton Road in Westbrook, just over the Windham line. They have been acquiring and selling antique pieces from furniture to cookie cutters for many years before opening the Den of Antiquities three years ago.
“We’re history buffs. We just love doing this,” said Nielsen.
They sold their antiques in other shops until it became too much to maintain four places. Once the
decision was made, opening their current shop happened in two weeks.
Den of Antiquities has 11 vendors on two floors, who offer antique and vintage everything, said Nielsen. “We sell re-new products, artisan pieces or redone vintage furniture.” The higher end, home décor or homemade artisan goods are priced appropriately and some people are surprised by the deals they find.
“We are very particular. We like diversity,” Nielson said about looking for certain items for the shop.
“We are a very clean and organized shop, not a junk shop,” said Gammon.
The types of items people look for change all the time. Right now, art deco isn’t as popular, but the farmhouse look is in, as is anything primitive or rustic.
“It just has to have the right look. Some like the industrial look,” said Nielsen. “We look for unusual things, antique military items - if it’s old and it’s in good condition we want to see it.”
This week they have metal stars from the Bates Mill in Lewiston. One of the most unique items in the store is a casket trimming table that comes with a swinging basket that was used to keep the tools in regardless of how the table was tilted.
Most of what Nielsen and Gammon do is educate the public on the antique pieces. Sometimes they are the ones being educated when older adults come in to reminisce about items they used or had in their homes. One couple, both 98 years old, came in and walked around for hours, then offered Nielsen $5 for the entertainment.
They always have staple items like jugs, crocks and glassware. They also have older books.
Homemade soaps are displayed in a dental cabinet which is a piece of dental history that is for sale.
“Things change in here daily. There’s a huge turn over. I sell one piece, I rearrange ten,” Nielsen said.
Regulars are always stopping by to see how the store has changed. All ages come by the shop from little kids who like to look at the ceramic figures or the little girls who try on the vintage costume jewelry while their adult looks around the store.
“I love the people. They come in and tell a story,” Nielsen said.
Den of Antiquities also sells Vintage Market & Design Chalk paint. The paint has been a huge seller. Nielsen helps people with their projects and she has begun taking on commissioned pieces. There is a huge variety in colors which can make the antiques unique and give them a pop of color.
Nielsen is a second-generation antique dealer. Her mother repaired historic items at the Smithsonian. Nielsen never thought she wanted to work with antiques, but after refinishing the couple’s historic home, they started selling again.
“We are always looking for good condition, period pieces,” Nielsen said. People stop by daily or call with one piece or a whole estate. Nielsen and Gammon like to have people do this as long as the item is clean and in good condition. They also have a flea market space in Oxford, Under Cover Flea Market, with their partner Ken Hall, where other items can be brought for purchase.
“If we buy it right we sell it right,” said Gammon. “Don’t be intimidated and think we have crazy prices.”
Starting Black Friday through January 1, Den of Antiquities is offering 20 percent off everything in the store, except certain marked items. They ship and freight pieces all over the world at cost. From a small item to a large piece of furniture, they will package it and get it to its new home. They also sell gift certificates. Den of Antiquities is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, year-round. Visit them at www.denofantiquitiesme.com and find them on Facebook. For more information you can also call Nielsen at 207-650-2729 or Jim at 207-650-3007.