The owner, Masoud “Martin” Asvadi, loved antiques even before he emigrated from Iran to Canada in 2000. “I believe antiques always have a life and art, matching each other. It’s different from the new furniture. I feel it doesn’t have a life.” The next year, he opened his store on Main Street, and moved to the present location in 2003. During this time he learned a great deal about North American antiques, to supplement his extensive knowledge of European items.
Martin enjoys sharing his love of antiques with others. And while a small part of his business is renting props to movie and TV production companies, the majority is sales to people who want items for their homes. Working to help them find just what they are looking for, he hopes to create “a great memory for me and my customer.
Music from the past
In the store, beautiful wooden tables and cabinets support cut glass and fine china, while the walls are lined with paintings and tapestries from across Europe and North America. One corner is devoted to functioning music machines from the past, such as a vacuum tube radio from the 1920s in a wooden cabinet, a 1910s-era Victor Talking Machine wind up gramophone with a large horn, and a Victorian-era Edison phonograph that plays wax cylinders that each record up to four minutes of sound. “Everything here is working. We try to have it running in the best condition,” Martin says with pride. He turns a crank on the Edison to wind the spring, sets the cylinder rotating, and carefully places a needle in the groove. A tune more than a century old comes out of the cone-shaped amplifier, surprisingly loud. Then he plugs in the vintage radio and fiddles with the control knobs and antenna. Once the vacuum tubes in back have literally warmed up, it plays a local broadcast. Finally, he winds up a Victrola cabinet record player, which plays “That’s Amore.”
Owner Masoud Asvadi works on an early Edison Gramophone
Changing With the Times
The antiques trade hasn’t been easy, Martin says. “You have to love this business to stick with it. Before, this area had 15 or more antique shops. They’re all closing because people’s tastes are changing and rents are going up. It’s not an easy time for the antique shops in all of Canada, all of Europe. Most of them have closed or they’re going to reproductions, because people always change their tastes.”
To stay afloat amid these changing fashions, Martin is careful to stock a diverse inventory. “We try to have a little bit from everything. We mix European and North American together.” He has both large items of furniture, such as a divan or armoire, and smaller decorative items, such as 300-year-old Chinese figurines or a Victorian wooden jewellery box with a secret compartment for letters. “We have lots of different pieces and we try to have very, very reasonable prices.”