DRACUT — One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
Although nothing inside Jim Keefe’s antique shop could be classified as trash. The old hand saw and mitre box, which may well be more than 100 years old, could use a little shining up, but for the right collector it could be a find.
It is just one of the items tucked away in no particular order inside the little shop, located in the mills at 1949 Lakeview Ave. There are dressers, headboards, a cedar-lined armoire, a hutch, another hutch, and another. There’s a China cabinet with a bowed glass door. There are paintings, crystal lamps, knick-knacks, a Victorian love seat — two of them actually; a Hardman-Peck upright piano in excellent condition and plenty more for the discerning eye.
Keefe, 53, is the son of Joan and Tom Keefe, a well-known face and voice in Dracut who has served as an auctioneer and master of ceremonies at numerous town functions. The younger Keefe, who branched out on his own in 1980, says he learned a lot about the art of negotiation by watching his father.
“It’s hard work sometimes. You really have to hustle,” he says. “But I love what I do. Every day is different. You never know what you’re going to find. I’m very lucky to do this for a living.”
Q: What’s new?
A: “Oh I get it. That’s funny.”
Q: How did you get started in the business?
A: “I hung around with my father instead of with kids my own age. My dad worked for the phone company and he’d be called upon sometimes to clean out a house and he’d come across antiques or just old items. I’d help him move some of the big stuff.”
Q: Where do you get most of the items that are in the store?
A: “Clean outs, auctions, people call me, advertisements, word of mouth. I do a lot of work for lawyers who are having estate sales. They call me and I come out.”
Q: What good tips would you give to people just starting to shop for antiques and collectibles?
A: “Start by going around to second-hand stores and antique shows. Don’t buy anything at first. Just pay attention to what other people are doing and ask questions. If you find a good second-hand store, you should stop by once a week. A real active second-hand store will have different stuff in there all the time.”
Q: What’s the turnaround time for most of these items?
A: “Very quick. Stuff doesn’t stay in here too long. You can come in one day and the store is packed and it looks good and other times you come in and it’s empty and you wonder how I make a living.”