LACONIA —Antiques Week in New Hampshire wraps up today and there are dozens 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.
Those looking to enjoy the scenic beauty of the area while searching for antiques can start their day by stopping by Paws Antiques and Collectibles, located on Rte. 3 on the Meredith-Laconia town line.
Owner Scott Grant says that the group shop, located in the former Hearth and Home furniture outlet, has over 5,600 square feet and about 100 dealers and offers high end China and glassware as well as art, furniture and estate jewelry.
He's 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. Since then he's expanded his community involvement into other areas, including support for summer camp programs for youth.
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 five years, so much 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 that primitives and folk art are in great demand these days but there is really no way to describe any overall trend. ''It all depends on who comes through the door. Our idea is too keep it fresh and keep it clean and make the shopping experience a good one for the people who come here. We don't hover over them but are here to be helpful and offer lots of interesting stuff,''
From there a short drive north on Rte. 3 will bring antique shoppers into downtown Meredith and the Meredith Bay Furniture Company at 44 Main Street, just across from the Meredith town offices, where owner Lou Farkas and his wife, Ginny, offer custom built furniture and antiques. The 4,000 square foot building has been open for a little over a month.
A retired electrical engineer who worked on helped develop high tech electronic microscopes, Farkas says that he would unwind from the stress of the intense work by working with his hands to build furniture.
''I did a lot of woodworking for family and friends.'' says Farkas, who bought the former Hickory Stick restaurant in Belmont and has turned it into a private home where he has a woodworking shop and turns out high end furniture, much of it Shaker period pieces, which are really works of art.
''I'm a perfectionist.'' says Farkas, who says that he likes the clean and simple lines of Shaker Furniture as uses a lot of Tiger Maple in his heirloom pieces which provide an appealing contrast in wood grain.
He also does a lot of repurposing using vintage farming implements to create unique furniture items and says that he and his wife offer a variety of antique items which are individually selected for their unique qualities.
From Meredith customers can take Waukewan Avenue out of town and head out onto Rte. 104 for a drive to Bristol and Newfound Lake and visit North Star Gems, four miles north of Bristol Square on the Mayhew Turnpike in Bridgewater.
Joanne Morrill has been offering her own gemstones, glass beads and jewelry from a converted hunter camp for the last 21 years.
She also offers jewelry making supplies, mineral specimens, tumbled stones, fossils and quartz crystal specimens at her shop.
''I've been making jewelry for years and bought the building basically as a way of self-preservation,'' says Morrill, who says that it has proved to be a good location for her on a well-traveled state highway.
She also offers free jewelry making lessons for anyone who wants to develop it as either a hobby or with a goal of selling their work.
Morrill says that she makes all of the items which are for sale in her store and that her works can be seen of her North Star gems website.
Leaving Bridgewater and heading south, antique and collectibles enthusiasts can travel back to New Hampton and then on to Interstate 93 at Exit 23 in New Hampton and get off at Exit 20 in Tilton, where they can take Rte. 140 into Belmont and on to Gilmanton, where they will find the Four Corners Brick House at the intersection of Rte. 107 and Re. 140.
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 moldings, 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.
From Gilmanton, shoppers can take Rte. 107 north into downtown Laconia, which is a mecca for antiques and collectibles.
There they will find the Laconia Antique Center. Located in a former Newberry's Department Store, the Laconia Antique Center with 22,000 square feet on two stories, is New Hampshire's largest antique and collectible emporium featuring over 150 dealers.
There are bookcases stocked full of 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 Baraks at the Gunstock Inn which advertises ''rugged food and comfortable beds.''
The center also is home to The Finer Diner, run by Ms. Tommie Ryan, which offers a wide variety of sandwiches, soups and comfort food, as well as ice cream.
''Our customers will get something to eat there and her customers will browse the aisles and buy our antiques,'' says Carol Center, manager of the Antique Center.
''We've had a really good summer. Last week we were getting slammed every day,'' says Center.
Another unique pace in downtown Laconia is Newffies Antiques and Collectibles at 16 Pleasant Street, which is the oldest antique store in downtown.
It is now run by Caryn Krahn-Burke, who says she took over the store four years ago from Joe McFall, who started it 15 years ago.
''I'm very eclectic,' says Burke, who says that she will go out of her way to seek out items sought by her customers which are not on her shelves.
''I'll keep my eyes open for it and give them a call if I find it.'' she says
She says that she started collecting things by going to auctions when she was 19 years old and over the years acquired a number of items from estate auctions, so many that she no longer needs to go to auctions to maintain an inventory.
She specializes in vintage clothes and jewelry as well as buying and selling gold and silver A former school teacher in Waterville Valley, Burke now lives in one of the oldest homes in Ashland.
Soon returning to the downtown area is Curiosity and Company, which recently operated out of Paws Antiques and offers Miss Mustard Seed Milkpaint supplies and workshops.
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North Star Gems on Rte. 3-A in Bridgewater has been selling gemstones, glass beads and Jewelry making supplies since 1994 / (Courtesy photo
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Meredith Bay Furniture Company features heirloom furniture and repurposed items like the one shown above. (Courtesy photo)
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Caryn Krahn-Burke of Newffies in downtown Laconia says her shop specializes in vintage clothes, jewelry and offers a wide variety of antiques and collectibles. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)
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Carol Center, manager of the Laconia Antique Center, says that the 22,000 square foot two-story shop has 150 dealers and is the largest in New Hampshire (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)