"Everything in here tells a story, even the patina on the furniture." – Linda Smiley
For Linda Smiley, opening her first antique shop isn’t just about stretching the legs of a lifelong passion for history, genealogy and collectibles — it’s about weaving a tale.
“Everything in here tells a story, even the patina on the furniture,” said Linda, who, together with her daughter, Hollie, and son, Bill, is working feverishly to tie up loose ends at Valentine Antiques — located on Burton Square — before its soft opening this Friday.
The family decided to venture into the antique world when Hollie’s longtime friend, Renee Petro, opened up Quintealia’s Tea Parlor with friend Annette Phillips at 14585 E. Park Street in Burton and was looking for someone to rent out the upstairs rooms of the historic 19th century home.
“They initially wanted Hollie to go in with them on the teashop,” Linda said. “But she’s a paralegal … and didn’t want to give up her job.”
Renee then talked about the upstairs rooms and wanting to do something with them, Linda said.
“Hollie talked to us about (an antique shop) and we thought we’d give it a shot,” she said. “We were help-ing Renee and Annette finish the downstairs and it just kind of fell into place. We’re all like one big family.”
In fact, Renee and Annette named Quintealia’s after Annette’s grandmother, so Linda decided to name their shop after her grandparents’ surname, Valentine.
Sitting down at an antique table surrounded by various items ranging from glassware, flow blue china, brass candleholders and light fixtures to lace gloves and Victorian dresses, Linda said her love and admiration of antiques spans a lifetime.
“My grandparents came here with absolutely nothing. They were poor immigrants,” she said. “So, we had nothing and I had come to love old things. I love genealogy and history.”
Linda was always drawn to primitive items, whereas her daughter, Hollie — who went to the University of Warwick in England for college — fell in love with the Victorian era.
The shop concentrates on that era, Linda said, adding it ties in well with the tea parlor below.
“We wanted to keep it in tune with what Renee and Annette had started here,” she said.
The family gets most of the merchandise from auctions, estate sales and sometimes individual sellers, Linda said, adding if someone wants a specific item they don’t have in stock, they can make a point to look for it if the person lets them know.
When asked what the most challenging part of opening their own business has been for her, Linda laughed ruefully and said, “technology.”
“I had to buy a new phone. They (Bill and Hollie) bought me an iPad so I’m learning that,” she said.
Sitting next to her, Bill smirked and nodded his head as she answered, adding for him, the most challenging part has been “locating unique items at the right price.”
But Linda’s favorite part of the adventure thus far: Shopping.
“I get to shop, shop and shop,” she said with smile. “I get to buy things I can’t use that are really beautiful that I don’t give to Hollie to sell.”
Chuckling, Bill added whenever they keep something, he makes them trade something from their “personal inventory” to the business.
However, he conceded his mom and sister are great at finding the right items and displaying them beautifully within the shop.
“Don’t let the fact you don’t have a place for some-thing stop you from buying it,” he said. “(Hollie) and mom staged everything. They’ve been in a lot of antique shops over the years so they know how to set them up.”
One of her favorite things about collectibles is the energy they carry, Linda said, adding they’re always warm, inviting and welcoming.
“My first home in Cape Cod, we decided to decorate with antiques,” she recalled. “We started going to flea markets, refinishing furniture. The kids, both my son and daughter, were raised watching me in the garage stripping furniture.”
Bill echoed his mom, adding he appreciates antiques because he’s been familiar with them his entire life.
“I’m around them all the time and I can see the beauty in them,” he said. “There are some pieces (my mom and Hollie) shake their heads at, but I say, ‘We gotta have that.'”
Laughing, Linda added, “We say, ‘OK, but don’t do it again,'”
Bill joked his mom and Hollie have “more discriminating taste” than he does.
Linda lives in Concord Township, her daughter, in Lakewood, so: Why Burton?
It’s a destination town.
“It’s a tourist destination,” Bill said, adding people come from places like Lakewood and Medina for festivals in Burton, for pancake breakfasts and shopping.
“There’s so much synergy with the shops in town,” he said.
As the family gears up to open the shop, Linda also expressed appreciation for her husband, William, who keeps them “fueled physically and mentally.”
“He raises our spirits whenever we get overwhelmed. He’s our chef,” she said. “We couldn’t do it without him.”
For now, Valentine Antiques is open the same hours as Quintealia’s, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, Linda said, adding that might change over time depending on how things go.
For more information on Valentine Antiques, call 440-251-2477. For more information on Quintealia’s or to make a reservation, call 440-834-1777.
Check the Geauga County Maple Leaf Facebook page for more photos from inside Valentine Antiques.
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