Breathing New Life Into The Antiques Business

By ASHLEY ANDERSON
Staff Writer
The Voice-Tribune

Growing up, Lucie Stansbury didn’t quite appreciate her father’s passion for antique furniture and collectibles. “He (Howard Wagner) had been a collector since, I believe, he was 13 years old,” said Stansbury. “Growing up as a child, the house was a museum, and I hated it.”

Decades later, however, Stansbury began to cultivate an affinity for antiques, beginning with her own collection, and eventually joining her father as co-owner of The Century Shop. The local boutique specializes in European antique furniture and accessories from the 16th through 19th centuries, with a selection of estate and designer studio jewelry. Appraisal, repair and restoration services are also available at the shop.

Originally located off Bardstown Road, The Century Shop recently moved to a new permanent location, 3704 Lexington Road, to help build on the success of the company since its founding in 1958. On May 30, the business celebrated with a grand re-opening party at its St. Matthews site. “The Louisville antiques market is a great market for this size city and the quality, the things that we have here and the prices that the consumer can get for these things,” Stansbury said. “So it’s really nice to be here, and one of my goals is to send that message worldwide.”

After years of employment in a corporate marketing position, Stansbury opted to work with her father – who at 82 still comes into the store six days a week – to help broaden the awareness of the business and bring the company into the 21st century.

Through her experience with the business, Stansbury has witnessed a constant change in what people want, with a recent trend in porcelain antiques. “You

never know what people (are going to) want,” she said. “You get a sense. And then (you never know) where you’re going to find it. You can’t go out and order from a supplier necessarily because it’s all one-of-a-kind, so it’s interesting in that respect.”

While porcelain, a flagship of the business since the beginning, has increased in popularity in the last month, case pieces and handsome, old-fashioned chairs and tables have also brought in curious customers and collectors. Stansbury also added antique and estate jewelry to the list of merchandise offered, along with contemporary pieces with silver and semi-precious stones from sources out of New York and California.

Though she, herself, has propelled significant, successful change over the last 10 years at The Century Shop, Stansbury never ceases to learn from her father, who taught her the importance of integrity and quality of work. “Just maintaining that simplicity and the integrity of the business and honesty,” she said of her dad’s business philosophy. “But, also sending the message out that that is what we are, and we have quality product. He has run the business that way.”

Whether an avid collector or someone simply looking to enhance his or her home, Stansbury encourages everyone to consider the purchase of antiques, as they can add excellent value to any space. “If you find the right antique, it certainly does add value to your home in the aesthetic portion and the monetary portion of it as well,” she said. “We have these collector-type pieces that are very specific to certain people and then more general (for a) decorator.”

From cabinet furniture to wall decor, tea caddies and mirrors, The Century Shop can assist you in bringing a wide range of unique beauty to your home. The company may focus on the old, but it’s certainly current on its customers’ wants and needs with more than 50 years of experience in offering fine quality antiques. “This is a good and safe place to shop for antiques,” Stansbury said. “You’re not going to get something that’s not exactly what someone says it is.”

The Century Shop is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For more information, visit www.thecenturyshop.com, e-mail centshop@bellsouth.net or call 502.451.7692 or 502.419.7686.

Photos by CHRIS HUMPHREYS | The Voice-Tribune