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The ‘Aladdin’s Cave’ Heanor antiques centre where Chinese collectors buy 1,000 items at a time

todayJune 12, 2022 1

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With the impact of Covid and now the Cost of Living crisis, businesses all over the country have been forced to adapt to survive. One of those businesses is the 25-year-old Antiques Centre on the corner of Ilkeston Road in Heanor.

This building is not only steeped in history but now houses a plethora of collectable and dated pieces. It has more than 200 antique dealers, 140 6ft display cabinets and furniture units and 3,000 square feet of glass display cases.

The owner of this “Aladdin’s Cave” of wonders is Jane Richards. She bought the building in 1998, set it up as an antiques centre and has owned it ever since. Derbyshire Live reporter Cameron Mellor went for a tour of the centre and had a chat with her about the history behind the building, the troubles of Covid and, of course, all things antiques.

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“We like to operate the centre with the phrase ‘A budget for any pocket’, some of the things in here are fifty pence, so somebody can come in here with ten pounds, come in the café, have a coffee and a sandwich and buy something even if they have little spending money. I think that’s quite nice that you don’t need a big budget,” Jane said.

“On the flip side, we get people from all over the world come here, Americans, Europeans, people from all over Asia and the largest part of our audience being the Chinese They ship quite a few items that we sell back to China and can buy up to 1,000 items at a time on a regular basis, but the process takes time as the buyer likes to see the items filmed and viewed before they ask someone to purchase them.

“I’ve got three types of customers. I’ve got the general public which kept us going through Covid because they liked coming here. I’ve got the dealers in England that come from all over the UK to buy and then we’ve got the internationals.

“The general public had a big pocket straight after Covid so we reopened quite well and that helped us massively. Not to mention, we staffed it with our family once we reopened and it was run as a family business for a short month until we could bring all the staff back.” she added.

“Although the highest priced items we’ve ever had were around four to five grand, I don’t see us around that area. That’s not really our audience, it’s quite common for things to be one and a half thousand but that’s a very limited audience.”

Explaining how a business like this stays afloat, especially during troubling time, she said: “We’ve owned the building for 25 years and when we first brought it, the internet was in its infancy. So there was no eBay, people had to source items and rely on book knowledge. So it was quite different initially, we did try the whole eBay thing, but the packing process and complications of it now being our items, meant that we stopped that fairly quickly.



The 25-year old unwanted dog and his kennel that's too small for him
The 25-year old unwanted dog and his kennel that’s too small for him

She continued: “In the last five to 10 years, we’ve had what we call the vintage or retro brigade. So people around your age (26) are into these vintage items and it all looks good to them. That’s where the internet and our Instagram has really come in handy. People used to say you’re only as good as your last advert and so our social media really helps us in that area.

“A lot of the people who work here, have got history, a lot of the customers came when they were younger and some of the dealers were around when we opened. I think there’s so much that’s happened in Heanor in terms of shops, that local people like to think that a small business is still operating in the town because there’s so much change.”

“We have almost our own community of people that specifically come to see us, pop in for a drink, buy or sell a little something and it keeps everything going round.” The building itself, other than the few extensions attached, has quite a rich history.

Jane said: “It was housing and a church in late Georgian times, then there were shops placed at the front side where the housing was, then it was ran as an undertakers with gravestones and coffins in the windows. Afterwards, in the First World War it was used as a hospital and following that in the Second World War it was a munitions storage depot followed by a tram depot and finally a Machin and Hartwell’s store in 1952 (who had an unexploded bomb found from the munitions storage in 1970) and then we brought it in 1998.”

Being placed on the corner of a three-way set of traffic lights, however, has its disadvantages. Jane added: “We had a vehicle through the front window twice, with the first time being four years ago, it nearly killed three people, it took out the whole of the front of the building on a busy shop-filled Saturday, that went viral on YouTube.

“The year after that during a snow storm in the early hours, a car lost control, came down and went through the windows that had only just been replaced.” Jane explained that, on top of the cost of replacing all the stone work and windows, there was also £5,000 worth of antiques destroyed in the crashes.

Asking what item that had been around for the longest, Jane said: “It’s a little dog with a kennel that’s been here since the very beginning and hasn’t sold all this time so I put it in the office. At the end of the day, we’re custodians. We just move an item on to it’s next stage of life.”

The Heanor Antiques Centre is open Monday-Sunday 10:30am-4:30pm and is a very welcoming and interesting visit. If you haven’t been to an antiques centre before, I’d definitely recommend this being your first.

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Written by: thehitnetwork

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