Antique dealer celebrates 30 years in business
By Christian Avard
Staff Writer | January 11,2013
Vyto Starinskas / Staff Photo
Bill Austin, right, gets items ready for this Saturdays' auction at William Austin Antiques in Chester.
CHESTER — A Chester businessman is celebrating 30 years of selling antiques by hosting a special auction for local charities Saturday.
According to Bill Austin, antiquing is his passion. Buying and selling old items never gets old and he said he still feels like a kid in a candy store.
“Antiquing is about the feel, quality, love, energy and warmth. It’s about stuff that people took care of and you realize it was made years ago. I keep telling myself, ‘I’m not running a museum. You can’t fall in love with things. You buy and you sell them,’” Austin said with a laugh.
Austin, a native of Long Island, New York, said he was a “wood nut” growing up. He enjoyed making wooden objects in school and collected a variety of items including, tables, chairs, wooden rockers and roll-top desks.
Austin moved to the area in 1983 after running a successful 285-seat seafood restaurant in Westminster, Mass. He was ready for a change and antiquing, he said, was his second calling.
He opened William Austin Antiques in 1983 in Springfield and moved to Chester one year later. Austin attributes the store’s growth to his Maple Street location.
The store is on the way to Okemo Mountain Resort, parks and other tourist destinations. Aside from location, Austin also believes the Okemo Valley is the best place for antiquing.
“There was a guy in almost every town that made furniture here. It’s not like today when some factory in North Carolina makes 10,000 dressers. There was so much individuality then,” Austin said.
When asked what his secret to success was for 30 years, he said it was satisfying the customers.
“It’s the sincerity and honesty. If someone buys something from me, I tell them, there’s no 30-day guarantee. We stand behind everything we sell,” he added. “We take care of people and customers come first.”
Austin now has three more businesses at his store. He sells ice cream and seafood and opened a small restaurant.
Marji Graf, Okemo Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce executive director, said Austin is one of a kind. She said his colorful business is an asset to the area.
“Bill Austin has been a community icon for 30 years in Chester. He started out with antiques and chair caning, then opened up a pie and ice cream bar, lobster pound, and sit-down restaurant in his antique store. Talk about re-creating yourself. He exemplifies being an ambassador for our region,” Graf said.
The auction will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at Austin Antiques. There will be hundreds of items to bid on and seafood will be catered at the event.
Part of the proceeds will benefit the Chester Fireworks Fund, Chester Fire Department, TARPS Animal Shelter and Springfield Humane Society. For more information, call 875-3032.
To view auction items go to www.auctionzip.com.