Thursday Merchant: Carson antique shop offers bits of history for your house
Hanifin’s Arts & Antiques sits inside Carson City’s historic downtown area, a place where owner Michael Robbins thinks it fits in quite nicely.
“I always liked Carson City and the historic nature of the downtown,” Robbins said.
In 2000, he was looking to relocate his antiques business from South Lake Tahoe to Carson City.
“I saw that this building had a for rent sign for years, and it was really kind of gross looking. It had no bathrooms, no plumbing, no electrical, and the owners didn’t want to invest any money into it. So it was up to me to do it.”
Most of the inventory of furniture and artwork is at least 100 years old, and European. Robbins travels widely to find pieces for his store.
“We don’t deal with American antiques that much,” Robbins said. “Normally American antiques from the 19th century are a little more ordinary than French antiques of that period. French, English, German furniture is more fancy, more round, more exotic woods.”
Hanifin’s customers come from all over, including Las Vegas and the Bay Area. While Robbins said they have items that fit into most budgets, they try to raise the bar in terms of their target market.
“We do have stuff in all price ranges, from $100 to $15,000,” he said. “If we put a bunch of junk or reproductions in here, we might sell a little bit of it, but we would lower our standards, and we’re trying to keep good standards and not waste people’s time. You can get junk anywhere. We want people to have the experience of looking through a wide range of quality items.”
The economic slump has hit businesses like Hanifin’s hard, as people cut back on spending.
“We’re feeling it as much or more than anybody,” Robbins said. “There’s no staples here, nothing you need. This is all optional stuff.”
But Robbins added a lot of people aren’t affected by the recession, and that antiques are a good investment.
“If you had invested in it in the ’40s, ’50s, ’60s, you would have tripled your money,” he said. “I think the theory is to buy the best antique you can buy, and it’s going to appreciate much more than ordinary stuff.”
Hanifin’s has many unusual pieces for sale, perhaps none more so than a stained glass window from a French church built in the 1820s that features an image depicting sinners burning in the fires of hell.
“You don’t see than every day,” Robbins said. “I’m thinking it might look good over a bar.”