It is 37 years this week, since Liz and Phil Capocchi opened their store Second Life Décor on Main Road in Eltham. Naturally much has changed since then, and here Liz reveals a little of the evolution of the business..
What inspired you and Phil to get into the antiques trade?
We were holidaying in the Barossa Valley one Christmas many years ago, and we went to a place called the Ravens Parlour; a large barn of a place, filled to the rafters with all sorts of things antique and vintage. That evening at dinner, we were once again discussing our ideas for future directions, and starting some sort of business for ourselves, when Phillip said “..why don’t we open one of those “junk” shops like the ravens parlour”..the rest is history.
Did you ever think your business would grow this large?
We were always hopeful of climbing to the top of the tree in the antiques industry, but never really dreamt of what was possible. I think the secret to reaching the pinnacle was a slow and steady growth through the years, by nature we are not risk takers and on that foundation we have built a strong business that is ready to pass onto the next generation.
What individual talents do you and Phil bring into the business?
We are very lucky in that our talents are largely complimentary. Phillip is fabulous at sourcing stock, organising the restoration and getting the product to our showroom ready for sale. And with my logical thinking, I look after the admin, staff, and displays in the shop. The displays in store reflect my natural inclination toward interior design.
How has your business changed in the last 37 years?
When we first started we essentially sold Australiana, brass beds, stoneware, a little jewellery, silverware and the odd American clock. Essentially it was an economic way for people to furnish as these items were very inexpensive. A few years after we opened our first store, this stock was becoming more difficult to find because Australia is such a young country and had only a small population in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Consequently the goods we were selling were never manufactured in great quantities. This paved the way for our first trip to the UK and we became importers of regular containers from England. Some 25 years ago our European backgrounds led us to France and beyond and the love affair with all things Continental started. During the first two decades we concentrated largely on beautiful quality objects and furniture from the 19th century, which has now broadened into still mainly European items from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. We particularly appreciate some of the more modern design that came out of the 50s and 60s. With such a broad spectrum to our stock our buying trips are more enjoyable as we can purchase any thing we like regardless of age.
Whats popular in the store at the moment?
Anything that is useful and functional in our modern lives and items that have been given a new identity. A great example is our European leather upholstered gym mats which people now use as coffee tables in their family living rooms.
Where do you see antiques going in the future?
Tastes appear to becoming more eclectic with individual pieces being very desirable; the combination of the old and the new will be an ongoing phenomenon, such as we have just witnessed with our Bromley collaboration. I believe that our clients are looking for comfort and versatility rather than the stiff formal interiors of the last century.
Any tips for those wanting to start buying antiques?
Speak to people that you trust and are comfortable with, buy with your heart and not with your head. Create a relationship with a dealer who understands what you are trying to achieve. Come and see us at Capocchi!