LACONIA — It's Antiques Week in New Hampshire and there are a lot of outstanding dealers and antiques shops in and around the Lakes Region offering a wide variety of collectibles, furniture, fine jewelry, china, glass and memorabilia.
One of the newest shops in the area, now in its fourth year, is Paws Antiques and Collectibles, located on the Meredith-Laconia town line.
Owner Scott Grant says that the group shop, located in the former Hearth and Home furniture outlet, has more than 5,600 square feet, has 103 dealers and offers high-end china and glassware as well as art, furniture and estate jewelry.
Grant has been into antiques virtually his whole life and recalls selling furniture to the "On Golden Pond" movie makers back in the 1980s and having his own stall at Burlwood Antiques shortly thereafter.
Now a resident of Alexandria ,Va., Grant says that he's always wanted to have his own antiques business, and in 2010 opened the pet-friendly antique shop which also sold pet items with proceeds going to support animal shelters like the New Hampshire Humane Society. and local police K-9 units.
Grant says that he's constantly working to upgrade the quality of what is offered at Paws and has seen steady growth over the last four years, so much so that he was able to expand to a year-round business last winter by keeping the shop open from Friday through Monday from November through April.
He says high-end items continue to sell briskly while low-end items also make their way rapidly out the door.
''There's no middle. Items priced $30 and under sell quickly while those $130 and up also are selling. But there's little action on those items priced in between,'' says Grant.
That observation is shared by Link Fournier at the Laconia Antique Center in downtown Laconia, who says that ever since the recession, which started in 2007, prices for antiques have dropped. He noted that the only place they have remained stable or actually increased are for the high-end items which only a few can afford.
''The good news for buyers is that prices are down for things like furniture, so they're less expensive and more affordable. The bad news is that there are fewer middle-class buyers because they were hit so hard by the recession.''
Located in a former Newberry's Department Store, the Laconia Antique Center, with 22,000 square feet on two levels, is central New Hampshire's largest antique and collectibles emporium featuring more than 150 dealers.
There are bookcases filled with vintage books in a comfortable reading area, a wide variety of furniture, lamps, art, maps, prints, glassware, dishware, china, Depression glass, stoneware, copper, primitives, estate jewelry, coins, currency, radios, lanterns, bottles, movie posters, advertising, railroad memorabilia, World War II memorabilia, nautical items, ephemera, plus many one-of-a-kind items, like a sign from the former Barracks at the Gunstock Inn which advertises ''rugged food and comfortable beds.''
The center also is home to the Laconia Downtown Deli run by Drew Seneca which also offers ice cream.
''Our customers will get something to eat there and his customers will browse the aisles and buy our antiques,'' says Fournier.
Downtown Laconia is real treasure trove for antique hunters, with a number of other interesting shops that are within easy walking distance. including:
Second Feature Antiques and Collectibles at 611 Main St., with country furniture, toys and dolls.
Newffies Antiques at 14-16 Pleasant St., with furniture, jewelry and vintage clothing.
Willow and Sage Boutique, 108 Beacon Street West, glassware, china, art and jewelry.
Curiosity & Company, 110 Beacon Street West, Miss Mustard Seed Milkpaint supplies and workshops.
New England Porch Rockers, 2 Pleasant St., chair caning, vintage wicker household items.
Too Good To Be Threw, 84 Union Ave., which at 6,000 square feet is the largest consignment furniture and home décor store in the Lakes Region.
Carriage Barn Antiques and Collectibles, 249 South Main St., paper, glass, linen, tools and collectibles.
In Gilmanton the Four Corners Brick House offers a wide variety of antiques in a spectacular setting, an 1810 home which was lovingly restored years ago by Doug Towle and purchased in 2009 by sisters Anne Bartlett and Karen Jenkins.
With its hand hewed floor boards, working fireplaces, matchstick mouldings, murals and meticulously painted rooms, the Four Corners Brick House turns shopping into an extraordinary experience. On special days, there might even be a fire in the Keeping Room fireplace.
There is an extensive and eclectic inventory of treasures from 18 different dealers as well as high quality consignments.
''Lately we've been selling more furniture than anything else,'' says Donna Mooney, who looks after the shop when the sisters aren't there.
There are also collectibles and primitives being offered at Thistle & That Farm at 120 Middle Route Road in Gilmanton.
Those looking to take to the road to find antiques will enjoy stops at such places as the Thrifty Yankee at 121 Rte. 25 in Meredith, where they will find an eclectic mix of jewelry, clothes and furniture or, for the more adventurous there is Freedom House Antiques on Old Portland Road in Freedom where vintage kitchenware, linens and collectibles are featured.