Jack Winner Antiques specializes in 18th and 19th century goods

Friday March 23, 2012

NEWFANE -- For more than 30 years, Jack Winner Antiques on Route 30 in Newfane, has specialized in 18th and 19th century formal and country furniture, equestrian antiques and hunting prints, and English and American decorative accessories.

Despite the impression that antiques are too expensive for the average person out looking for furniture, Jack Winner said a smart shopper can often find stuff that is cheaper than at a big box store.

"You’ll find that it’s often a much better value for the money to buy antique furniture made from solid wood," he said. "It’s been around for 100 years and it’s still here."

The stuff people buy at big box stores doesn’t hold up as well as solid-wood furniture, said Winner.

"It’s a better investment because it lasts a long time. We have sold 18th century furniture in the $900 to $1,200 price bracket."

In fact, Winner’s own dining chairs date back to 1750.

"There is a wonderful history to a lot of these pieces," he said.

Winner and his wife Gillian moved to Newfane in 1983 after teaching college classes in Ontario for 20 years. Winner taught fresh-water biology in Canada and Gillian taught health science at Vermont Technical College until last year when she retired.

When they first moved to Vermont they purchased the West River Lodge in Brookline and operated it for 17 years.

"Eventually we decided to retire from inn keeping," he said. "We had friends who owned an antique shop who were moving back to England so we sold the inn and bought the antique shop."

Since the 1960s, the Winners have been collecting the decorative art of Peter Ompir, who was dubbed the "Dean of Decor Painting." Ompir is esteemed by antique dealers and fellow artists alike as the father of American decorative painting.

Decorative painting is a variation on folk art, said Winner, whether it be Pennsylvania German or European decorative painting on tin, tole or furniture.

"Many countries have a tradition of painting on furniture, especially in Scandinavia and Holland," he said.

Jack and Gillian do their own fair share of decorative painting as well.

"We do commission work and have decorated furniture for a number of people in New England," he said.

Their daughter, Rosalind Sterling, is an artist in New York.

Their son, Christopher, who is a physician’s assistant in Burlington, is also very interested in antiques, said Winner.

"We go on buying trips to England," he said.

The antique shop is four rooms in a converted barn attached to their house. They also have an art gallery above the antique shop. The Winner’s also operate Gillian’s Guest House, a bed and breakfast.

They are usually open Thursday through Monday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. They are also open by appointment.

The Winners are also active participants in Newfane’s annual Heritage Festival and can be found at antique shows in New England, New York and Canada.

This past year hasn’t been the best year to be in the antique business, said Winner, especially with Tropical Storm Irene sweeping through the region followed by a winter of hardly any snow.

Ski season can be a busy time for antique shops, he said, but you have to have snow.

Even though they haven’t gotten as many drive-bys this year, "We have some faithful clients who come every year and we have a lot of our old inn guests who pop by," said Winner.

And then there are a number of antique dealers in the area who have closed up shop over the past few years.

"Antique tourists" used to come to the region and shop at all the different stores, said Winner.

"The more stores you have the better it is for the business," he said. "We don’t really compete with each other."


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