Small Business Resolutions: Occoquan Antiques Now a Boutique
Owner Gudi Bignotti now has the freedom to be more selective about her merchandise.
Occoquan Antiques owner Gudi Bignotti is done with retirement. After nearly closing the shop in 2011 and closing it to retire in April of 2012, Bignotti has downsized and moved her business from Mill Street to Union Street.
"My husband saw that I was not happy after we did all the traveling that you do after you retire, that's supposed to be so wonderful," she said. "We did it all, and that was the end of it. I could not stand it anymore. I said, 'Pete, I have to open another store.'"
"We are in this for the long run," she added. Her husband now works two days a week at the shop.
She signed the lease Nov. 1 last year, and opened Nov. 15 to catch holiday business. She calls the store an "antique boutique," and hopes to catch the attention of a younger crowd.
"I don't want young people to say, 'Oh, this is antiques, we don't want that,'" she said. "I want to say, 'We have vintage things.' I want to be an antique boutique. I don't want to have a furniture store."
Bignotti's motto is, "something old, and something new," and she now features new decor items to accent the antique furniture, so customers can envision the furniture in their own homes. But she's not trying to trick customers. All item tags will still have the dates listed, so no customer buys a new piece thinking it's antique.
Bignotti loves having a smaller store. It's easier to move merchandise, and she now has the time to specialize in fulfilling customer orders. To keep costs down, she doesn't buy pieces that need to be refinished. If customers need a piece refinished, she can refer them.
She gets her pieces from estate sales, auctions, neighbors, customers and ads.
"You kind of have to go almost everywhere," she said.
When she comes to work in the morning, she feels like she's coming home.
"My friends are here. My customers are here," she said. "I missed it, and here I am. Occoquan is home. You cannot explain that to anyone, but it's just a part of you."