Published Date Written by Adam DrapchoLACONIA — Jane Gove's interest in antiques began several decades ago, when she and her husband purchased a home in Gilmanton. When doing some spring yard work, she noticed a small, glass bottle by the stone wall in her yard. Underneath that bottle was another bottle, and another — she had stumbled upon the corner of the property that had served as the family trash dump of centuries past.
"That was it for me," she said. Stumbling across a long-discarded object — the bottles once held insulin, her research revealed — began what would turn into a lasting fascination with antiques. That fascination led her and her husband Charlie to begin collecting, then to sell some of their surplus collection as a vendor in an antique store in Gilmanton, and then opening up their own antique store, in partnership with another couple, Jack and Diane Gothage, on Main Street in downtown Laconia.
Second Feature Antiques is located at 611 Main Street, in one of the storefronts of the old Colonial Theater building.
For the Goves, who recalls coming to downtown Laconia for shopping and entertainment, setting up on Main Street has a nostalgic charm. "It's kind of like coming home," said Jane. However, there's more than sentimentality to their business decision. Within the same block are the Vintage Emporium, and antique center, and the massive Laconia Antique Center. For the antique industry, having similar shops nearby is a good thing.
"The more, the better," said Jack. If there's several antique stores in a concentrated area, he said, shoppers will make Laconia a destination. "It's one stop shopping," he said. "If we have things all in one area, it's nice. You can save your gas money."
The proprietors were hoping to get their business open prior to the holidays and were disappointed when delays pushed their opening to January, typically considered a slow month for many businesses. However, their business was busy from the opening, even during a week that saw temperatures barely rising above zero.
"We're pretty impressed," Jack said about Laconia's downtown. "There's plenty of people here, it's hard to find a (parking) space."
The foot traffic has translated into sales, too. They find that some buyers are motivated by nostalgia, seeing something that reminds them of their childhood or something that a relative had many decades ago. They've also had customers too young to be nostalgic for the items they purchased. Second Feature Antiques includes a lot of furniture in its inventory, and Charlie said customers in their 20s and 30s recognize a value in antique furniture that is hard to find in products made in the age of computers and robots. "A lot of antiques are better made than modern furniture."
The furniture at Second Feature is described as "primitive" or "industrial," in that it was made with more interest in functionality than ornate design. The store's specific niche within that category is acquiring antique furniture that is dilapidated or in disrepair and either refurbishing the items or breaking them down and re-purposing the materials in a new way. Jack and Charlie work as a team on such projects and enjoy the creative challenge it presents.
Other items found in the store include toys, golf clubs and dolls. "We try to have a little bit of everything."
If there's anything that ties all of their inventory together, it's that the items piqued the proprietors' fancy. After all, antique collectors who have too much stuff then open up a shop, and need to hunt even more for items to keep the store stocked. And that's fine by them.
"Once the bug has bitten you, you do not stop," Jane said about antiquing.
"It really is an addiction," added Jack. "You have to like doing this. You're not getting rich, but you're having a good time."
CAPTION for SECOND FEATURE ANTIQUES in AA: