What began in a New York City apartment in the 1960’s is now a booming business on The Strand, Kingston’s historic waterfront district. Started by Judy and her husband Jim, Milne’s At Home Antiques now includes adult daughter Rebekah, who, at one time, was called her mother’s little helper and whose earliest memory is being at an antiques show with her parents and allowed to choose a “treasure” to take home. Despite knowing she’d end up in the family business eventually, Rebekah’s parents didn’t want it to happen right away. After a few forays into other career choices, including Wall Street and corporate America, plus a stint running a spa business, Judy and Jim felt Rebekah was ready to join them in the antique world.
Though the shop was originally a large Manhattan gallery with two storage facilities, everything was packed up in 2012 and delivered with loving care to its present location on Broadway in Kingston. “My parents still show in Manhattan,” says Rebekah, “but from a much smaller space." She remembers the ordeal of moving the 40-year collection as a labor of love. Rebekah recalls, “We spent many days and nights moving items and figuring out how to set them up in their new home.”
If there is one misconception that Rebekah would like to dispel, it is the notion that the antique business is “super stuffy, incredibly expensive, and out of reach,” or the opposite view that antiques stores are “dirty, tchotchke shops filled with dusty little things no one wants.” Milne’s At Home Antiques is breaking that stereotype, she declares. “We want people to know antiques can be fun and young, and when mixed into one’s personal décor with thought, they can be contemporary as well as unique and special.”
This philosophy is reflected in their trendy and compelling website, designed so that it looks like it’s on weathered wood to capture the folksy way mom Judy welcomes visitors. Their blog also offers advice about decorating with antiques, and it includes pictures to illustrate their points.
(By the way, is that Martha Stewart we see with Judy and Jim on the home page?) But even without the website, there’s still the all-important word of mouth to keep steady traffic in and out of the shop. “We have been lucky enough over the years to have entire generations of families shop with us. My mom has worked with the parents of the twenty-somethings I’m working with now….40 years ago!” As with any business, to be successful, it should evolve and grow with the times. Judy’s “eye” for antiques has built collections not only for single customers but also for corporations, and it’s now officially on the website’s list of services.
This year, the shop is proudly launching its own locally sourced, handmade furniture line. Their younger audience loves the look and authenticity of antiques, shares Rebekah, but doesn’t always have the space for them, so this option offers the aged look but is more suitable for their lifestyle. Counting herself extremely fortunate, Rebekah loves being her own boss, working side by side with her parents and partner Seamus, carrying on “the American small-family business tradition.” And Rebekah most-certainly enjoys her best find of all: “discovering that my avocation and my vocation are one in the same.”
Be sure to wander in
Milne’s At Home Antiques
at 81 Broadway, Kingston; 845-331-3902
or visit their website at