Ask Holly McIntyre, the general manager of Seaport Antique Village. The questions are constant. Who bought the land? What’s replacing the shop? Why, after 37 years, regular customers ask, is the classic antique shop closing?
Upon hearing of its closure, one regular who had visited the store for years had to be escorted out, crying. But the answer to the last question, much to that customer’s chagrin, is simple.
“We’re both at retirement age,” Rick Lyman said of himself and his wife, Kit, who have owned the store since its inception. “We put our time in.” Now, he said, “It’s time to quit.”
Kit Lyman started the business from a roadside stand on Route 1 nearly 40 years ago, when the road wasn’t even called Route 1. She and her husband then bought the Route 54 spot, about a mile from Route 1 in Fenwick, in 1969, lived in an apartment on location and ran the business for decades before moving to Florida.
In the store’s heyday, though, Kit Lyman would make trips to Europe and all across the world, searching for antiques, returning only with a load of merchandise behind her. But about 10 years ago, they bought their first home in Florida and handed the business over to McIntyre before the soon-to-be-retired couple made the decision Rick Lyman called “bitter-sweet.
“We’ve spent most of our life on that corner,” he said.
Now, everything in the 40-showroom, 26,000-square-foot antique shop — if the word “shop” can describe such a place — has to be gone by Dec. 1. Whole dining room sets fill each downstairs room, filled with flowers, plates, glasses and silverware.
Glass showcases line the hallways, filled with teacups, other ceramic ware, glass antiques and decorative items. Antique dolls fill other showrooms, along with nautical antiques from old sailboats and navy ships.
And upstairs, whole bedroom sets decorate rooms, inside of which everything is for sale. Even the curtains on the wall need to be sold, McIntyre said. A couple of weeks ago, one lady purchased an entire bedroom set — curtains and all — for $35,000. If everyone would just do that, it might be easier to clear the colossus that took years to build.
Jeanne Burton, who visited the shop on Wednesday with her husband Orville, knows of that building process. She’s been driving the 75 minutes from her Eastern Shore Virginia home to walk around the shop for longer than she could remember.
“It’s always had one of the most amazing selections,” Burton said. “We’ve been coming here for years. We’re sorry to see it close.”
McIntyre, who has been explaining reasons for its closure since January, is undoubtedly sorry she has to shut the doors, as well. The general manager has worked in the shop for 12 years and now is “forced to move on.”
“It’s depressing,” McIntyre said. “Everybody working here has been here a long time. It’s a fun place. We love it.”
For the Lymans, it hasn’t been just a long time; it’s been a lifetime which will be hard to move past. They not only worked at the shop; they lived there and spend all of their time there. But, as Rick Lyman said from his Florida home earlier this week: when it’s time, it’s time.
“If I was 30 years old, you wouldn’t buy it,” he said. “But time takes care of all things. It’s time to move on.”