Feature by Anne Lemmon
BPOM Christie Andry, Owner
This Olde Shoppe
14744 Tiger Bend Road
Located at Jones Creek and Tiger Bend across from Tuesday Morning
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday 10:00-5:00
This Olde Shoppe: “One of the best kept secrets in Baton Rouge”
This Olde Shoppe carries antiques, vintage items, collectibles, gifts, handmade items, and some new items for sale by owner Christie Andry and her vendors. Each vendor buys and displays his/her own stock for sale. “We carry a hodgepodge of items; we all buy from all types of places and people.” She does not do consignment. FYI: Vintage items are 20 to 50 years old, depending on whom you ask, and antiques are items 100 years old or older.
“I believe in being kind to my customer, that’s my life slogan; I feel that’s what we are here for, to be kind to other people. I try to make sure they like coming to my business/shop. If you aren’t kind to your customers, they will not come back.”
Christie has always had a love of antiques; she enjoys the hunt for a particular item or just for items to resell in her shop. She started in the antiques/collectible business in 2000 with a friend; they rented a booth for two years in an antique mall located in Denham Springs. Christie has not had any formal training in antiques but has developed a good eye for them. Her aunt, who lived in New York City, organized estate sales. Estate sale people come in and handle the sale of the contents of a house so the owner or heirs do not have to deal with it.
Christie started her career as a teacher. She earned a degree in elementary education from Loyola University and taught for five years in New Orleans. For the next twenty years she stayed home to raise her five children. She has a realtor license and works for Keller Williams “in her spare time”. Although, she does not actively pursue her real estate career because the shop takes up all her time, she does keep her license active.
In 2011 she moved to her current location and rented the building; she started with one room of items for sale. After one year, she purchased the building and expanded to its current 2,000 square feet of space. She currently has several vendors who rent space from her. They have antique as well as vintage items for sale.
She also carries items from several local artists. One artist works with metal, shaping it into jewelry and etching it for decoration; another artist paints on recycled wood. One of the craftsmen supplies handmade furniture, tables, chairs, cabinets and benches. He takes special orders and will make items to fit your space and needs. Another artist paints and decorates shutters and old window frames.
One of her artists, Leroy, lives in Shenandoah. He makes birds — woodpeckers, pelicans and cranes — out of PVC pipe. Christie saw his truck full of the “birds” in the bank parking lot and she asked him about selling through her shop. These may be seen in the front yard of the shop. These are great lawn and porch decorations. The woodpeckers actually hang from the trees, building or inside on your wood cabinet.
Christie says, “People come in ask, “Do you have…? If we don’t, I offer to find it for them. It is so rewarding to locate a piece for someone in their price range. If someone is actively looking for an item, a particular piece of furniture or a special size, the vendors will actively look for it. They also may know other vendors that may have what the patron is seeking. Several of my vendors have booths at other malls/stores. We also keep a list of “wants” and let people know when something turns up.”
“I sold a piece of furniture yesterday and the client asked about its origin. I called the vendor, and the item came from a convent in New Jersey. For me, this is a fun business, I love learning about things, love the thrill of the hunt and finding things for people. Even when I am out of town, I am always looking, ‘on the hunt’ for something good.”
The House the shop is in also has a history. It was moved from downtown Baton Rouge years ago. It became a home on Tiger Bend, then a gift shop, then it housed two different businesses; now it is an antique and gift shop.
“Vendors come to me. The vendors network with each other, they hear about This Olde Shoppe and come in to talk. If I have space and carry their type of merchandise, I rent to them. We sell antiques, collectibles and vintage items. Our only new items are gift items a vendor may carry such as candles. One vendor stocks new hand towels and dish towels that are hand embroidered by a local designer.
We sell “repurposed” items. We take old and broken items deemed by others as discards, fix, and repair and paint them to make the item something you can use. For example, we took this holder for a side light on a door put a hook in it and now it is a towel holder.
We don’t carry clothing. One vendor does carry children’s clothes that are locally handmade using vintage linens. The artist uses the older linens and adds other fabric as needed for collars or sleeves, etc. There are some “new” children’s clothing items in her shop such as, Seasonal clothing, dress up clothing and LSU items for children.
One of her artists, Kathy, is a photographer. She first offered pictures of food and nature. People began to request pictures of old Baton Rouge buildings; so she added those to her items for sale. The pictures are framed and matted and she does requests.
People stop by and sell us old items from houses such as doors, windows, shutters, that we resell or remake and repurpose.
I see the small businesses as being the community. The role of the small business in the community is to offer items or services to people locally so they don’t have to ‘travel’ to find them. I feel people would rather support someone locally instead of the big mall stores. It is easier and more convenient to shop locally in the neighborhood; one can avoid heavy traffic, large parking lots and support their friends and neighbors when patronizing a small business. That’s how we started in America, with local neighborhood stores, not with the giant corporations.”
“The major challenge with a small business is how to make it work, to attract enough business to stay open. We, my vendors and I, do this by constantly changing the inventory so the store does not look stale. We try to keep the stock different and attractive. When regular customers come in, we want them to see ‘new’ old stuff. We shift the inventory around to keep it looking fresh and showcase different items. Items from the back room may be moved to the hall or the front room. We may do a display of jewelry on a table or kitchen pieces or old tools, for example.”
“Another challenge is attracting customers. We do not have the means for advertising. We rely on word of mouth and people just stopping by to look. We have items on the porch and in the yard to attract possible customers and to let them see what kind of items we have. We try to let people know we are an antique, craft, vintage items shop. Our Facebook page showcases a lot of our inventory and we have calls and emails about items listed there. We are blessed and lucky that this has taken off, people stop in, they like what they see and they come back to check the ever changing inventory.”
“We have new people coming by everyday that are finding us. We have been here three years, and our advertising is by word of mouth and through Facebook. People come in and tell us, we saw you on Facebook. They come in looking for an item they saw on her page or wanting to sell her something of theirs.
I do not take things, such as large pieces of furniture that will not sell or move here. What will sell in Denham Springs might not sell here; there is a difference in clientele. Our customers are looking for small one of kind items, something that goes with what they have, not to furnish a room. Although we do sell some furniture such as tables, chairs and cabinets, we do not carry full sets, bedroom, dining room, etc.”
“If someone is actively looking for an item, a particular piece of furniture or a special size, the vendors will actively look for it. They also may know other vendors that may have what the patron is seeking. Several of my vendors have booths at other malls/stores. We also keep a list of ‘wants’ and let people know when something turns up.
Fads do occur in antiques among collectors. Pottery will be big for six months and then no one wants it. We need to keep on top of what people are looking for and buying right now.
If you are starting a small business, you should expect long hours. You will be doing something every day at your store; it will keep you busy all the time. You need to be here every day or “on call” if you are not on the premisis. I am usually the only person at the store, some of my vendors may cover for me if needed, but they usually have ‘day’ jobs.”
As for the future of Baton Rouge, Christie would like to see downtown as a real place to go with shopping, parks, events, and food for sale into the evening. “Most of the restaurants are closed after 2:00 pm. Live after 5 is great, this draws a crowd to downtown BR but usually everything is ‘dead’ at night except for special events. I would like to see downtown as a place for families to go in the evening,” Christie says.
As for reading, Christie is too busy being a business owner to read in her spare time. She does read antique books to stay current with the items in the store or to do research on an item someone is seeking.