375 Huron Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138 • (617) 491-2131 • Email: easychairslee@gmail.com

Time to part with some of your treasures?

The house where I grew up in Westchester county New York featured a 1960's turquoise and pink kitchen and plastic covers over the living room furniture. I never paid attention to antiques until I went to college at Harvard University which is really old (founded in 1636!). Today, my store is only one mile west of Harvard Square where I continue to regularly admire the ivy covered walls and wrought iron gates that surround the Yard.

My name is Lee Joseph and I have owned and operated Easy Chairs, an antique shop in Cambridge since 1979. My first exposure to antiques happened while I was working as a "go-fer" with Ben Thompson, famed architect of Fanueil Hall marketplace in Boston. Along with his wife Jane, Ben and I would drive around the area buying up quirky and fantastic items to decorate their offices and restaurants. Their passion for beautiful wood and well-made objects was contagious and soon I started buying and selling on my own. My humble beginnings were in a co-owned shop across from the old Orson Welles theatre between Harvard and Central Square called Extra Classic. But in 1979 I struck out on my own.

I love this opportunity to share some of what I have learned in my 27 years as an antique dealer and auctioneer. I'm convinced that old things, like people, love you back when you show them you care! When is the last time a piece of department store furniture showed you some love?

What I have noticed about people over 50 who love antiques is that at some point, they max out their collection. Soon, they start thinning out the furniture, art work, china, start giving things away to growing up children and often, calling me to buy back what I sold them 10 or 20 years ago!

At some point, unless you will live out your days in the family mansion with thousands of square feet for your "stuff,"then you will be faced with simplifying what you own when you either decide to live with only what you love, or move into a smaller home. Here's some advice about "right-sizing" your collectibles - -

  • Make it less emotional. Everyone tells me one of two things; either their mother loved the piece, so it has sentimental value, or their grandmother said it was very valuable. Well, sentiment won't get it out of your house, so have a good cry, give it a hug, and let it go. If you are selling to an antique dealer that you know, they should be able to give you a fair price for what it's worth in the marketplace today.
  • Don't get caught in the trap of finding a self-storage facility and holding on to it for the kids.

About three years ago I met a woman I'll call Alice who was interested in my buying some furniture, lighting and art she was ready to part with. She said she had more items, but that she was storing them for her kids. She called me just last week and asked me to meet her at the storage facility since now the kids have told her they really don't want anything she had saved. So as we stared into the storage room, I mentally added up what the contents were worth to me and told her $1400.00. Her mouth fell open and she said, "Lee, I just paid the final bill on this room and in total over the years I've spent $3,400.00 in storage fees!"

You can do it! Figure out what you love to live with, what fits in your home (or the home you might move to eventually), give the kids a firm date to take what they want out the door, and then sit back and feel the love!