I had the great pleasure a short while ago of meeting a very interesting man.
His upholstery shop was closing after over half a century of service in Hamilton. I was fortunate enough to take a peak at his old shop and to spend some time hearing his stories.
During my visits he showed me some of the most beautiful hand painted and embroidered spools of fabric purchased from back in the heydays of New York City -the designer’s name hand painted onto the end of the fabric on each bolt. He was selling the bolts for only $30-50 each -they must’ve been a pretty penny back in the day. When I went to visit him for a second day he had mentioned that just after I had left some folks from the textile museum stopped in to take photos of the fabric and do some documentation. He said he felt a bit like a movie star! I had wished that we weren’t in the process of purging and decluttering our home otherwise I would have taken at least 1-2 bolts off his hands without a doubt.
He seemed to be 80+ years old but with his wits and humour still abound. He knew very well how to price the items he was selling. There were some great antique pieces that needed to be gone by the end of the week. An old medicine cabinet, wooden farm chairs, and wooden trunk plus many other pieces being over 100+ years old (and priced at over $100). He was sure to sell to some real antique buyers -no garage sale steals to be had here. And those pieces did sell.
I really felt like I could’ve visited the shop everyday that it was to remain open (there were only 5 days left until everything had to be out). I felt quite enchanted with the store’s history as well as the life of the shop owner. The last day I visited was to pick up the least antique like thing in the shop. Steve and I bought a shelf unit that would fit our record collection perfectly as well as our newly purchased TV (first TV purchase ever!). While Steve went to get the dolly from our house to wheel the shelf back home I chatted with the upholsterer. I felt a kind of sadness for shops similar to this one with such history rooted in Hamilton -all the stories he had and people he’d met throughout his life in the city that would soon be lost or never told. I wanted to hear about everything: how the city had changed, how and why he ended up in Hamilton… I intended on coming back every day that week, but for some reason didn’t make it back. The store is now empty and closed.
I hope one day that I run into the upholsterer again…