People who change their lives by entering the trade often share something in common – they show what can be done with a passion for antiques plus drive, determination and chutzpah.
Sometimes redundancy money can help too, which was the case in
this story of a Suffolk-based ex-corporate bank manager turned
antique furniture dealer.
Robin Dunkley worked in financial services
for 21 years and loathed it for most of that time. Following the
crash of 2008/9 he took both courage and redundancy and launched Holt
Antique Furniture at a Lomax antiques fair in East Anglia
in 2010, running this business from his home near the very
desirable Georgian market town of Holt in north Norfolk, as well as
online and standing at fairs.
He said: "I have always been interested in collecting, starting
as a boy with railwayana - pre-nationalisation - on the back of
receiving a LNWR [London and North Western Railway] bridge plate as
a gift and when I had saved £5 my nan or mum would take me to an
antiques fair where I bought lamps, cap badges, doorstops etc.
"Gradually that collection grew and my tastes and pocket
changed. When I started earning I still bought these things, as I
do to this day, but my main passion was and remains oak and country
furniture pre-1800 - this started when my wife Nicola and I bought
and furnished our first cottage."
So successful has Robin's business been that he has expanded and
opened a shop in Little Walsingham, Norfolk - since the 11th
century, the villages of Little Walsingham and Great Walsingham
have attracted many visitors to the shrines of the Virgin Mary and,
now, to a major pilgrimage centre.
"We had too many people visiting our home and needed somewhere
in a good location with historic interest and this place with its
medieval timber-framed buildings and 1000-year history was the
ideal choice and remains so," he added.
Two years on, and at the start of Robin's fifth year of trading,
turnover has grown to six figures and the business is in profit to
the extent that he is negotiating to take on additional
His financial background has surely stood him well in the growth
of his business. In a final comment, one with which dealers will be
so familiar, Robin said: "With the antiques trade come very long
hours and the salary is nowhere near my previous career path but
one thing I can truly say and that is 'I love it and wish I had
done it sooner'."
Holt Antique Furniture specialises in 16th-early 19th century
oak and country furniture, treen, delftware and other decorative
and ecclesiastical pieces.
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