Charlie Ham and Jeremy Teel, co-owners of Antique Rovers, practice what they preach.
“People can live comfortably in a house filled with antiques,” said Ham, who has been in the antiques business for more than 50 years. “If you think about it, they are time-tested. Generations of people have already lived with them.”
The business partners, who are also godfather and godson, run their antiques and auction company from their “corporate” home in Montalba, a community in east Central Texas. A couch and the telecommunications technology are the only new things in the 3,000-square-foot home and office.
“We’ve got 75 different collections, which means we’ve gathered at least three examples of a certain item, in this space,” Ham said.
The result is a one-of-a-kind home that exudes warmth and personal style.
“Antiques come in all shapes, sizes and styles, so they’re a matter of personal taste,” Ham said. “You can buy $10 items or $25,000 items and make them all look spectacular.”
The duo, who have also flipped more than 30 houses, stages their projects entirely with antiques from their inventory.
“Everyone who has purchased one of our homes has also purchased the furnishings and decor,” Ham said. “They respond to the warmth and character of interior design built around time-tested pieces. Antiques make a house immediately feel like a home.”
Ham attributes the inherent appeal of antiques to durable, beautiful materials such as burnished wood, high-quality construction and the patina of time.
“Patina can’t be purchased from a chain store,” Ham said. “The mellow, soft, inviting look comes from generations of being used, handled and lived with.”
The Antique Rovers Difference
The Antique Rovers travel a 15-state region in America’s heartland searching out the best of the past.
“From Texas, we travel west to the Rockies and east to the Smokies and as far north as the Great Lakes,” said Teel, who is also a licensed auctioneer. “Our focus is unique, one-of-a-kind primitives, but we gather the best of everything we find including western, Native American and Americana. Our tastes—and our inventory—is eclectic.”
The inventory is also fresh. Using a schedule of standing events, the duo completely turns their inventory every six months.
“We buy merchandise fully intending to sell it,” Teel said. “Our inventory is not confused with our collections.”
Twice a year, they set up shop during the Round Top Antiques Show at two locations—the Antiques on the Square Show in Fayetteville, where they cap off an 11-day run in their 1,500-square-foot space with an evening auction held on the Fayetteville show’s last day, and the Big Red Barn in Carmine. Each venue has different merchandise. Upon their return to Montalba, they host a barn auction to move any remnant merchandise.
In addition, the duo hosts a three-day barn warehouse sale each quarter in a converted, climate-controlled barn at their headquarters. Several weeks prior to the sale date merchandise is showcased and available for purchase on www.antiquerovers.com.
“Customer satisfaction is our No. 1 priority,” Teel said. “When it comes to online purchases, if clients aren’t happy with the merchandise when it arrives, they can return it for a refund.”
To keep merchandise moving, Antique Rovers approaches pricing differently.
“We concentrate on buying exceptional things at exceptionally affordable prices,” Teel said. “Once a piece is in our inventory, we price it so someone else can afford to take it home.”
The duo bases their valuation on a figure that allows them to make a profit, but may not reflect the value of a similar piece offered by another retailer. Recently, they found a spectacular blue pie safe with its original paint and 10 original punched tin insets. In most shops, the piece would retail for about $2,000. Because of their business model, the Antique Rovers were able to price it for $800.
The pie safe sold to the first woman who saw it. She was an antiques novice.
“She was so delighted with the piece that she is now building a ‘she shed’ completely outfitted with antiques—and she’s started regularly bringing her family and friends to our warehouse and introducing them to antiques,” Ham said. “She discovered what we know—antiques are perfectly at home in the 21st century.”