(Voices News) Sen. Kane Travels Antiques Trail in Woodbury

September 24, 2013

Article as it Appeared in VoicesNews.com

In Effort to Promote Antiques Dealers in State:
Kane Travels Antiques Trail in Woodbury

by Mike Preato
Published: Saturday, September 21, 2013 7:07 AM EDT

WOODBURY — State Sen. Robert Kane, R-32, visited local antique dealers on Tuesday, September 17, as part of his promotion of the Connecticut Antiques Trail.

The law established a state-wide antiques trail which should help to promote antique dealers throughout the state by making people aware of the locations of dealers.

Woodbury is recognized as the antiques capital of Connecticut.

The new law allocates up to $10,000 in state funds to create a marketing campaign to promote antique shops through road signs, website advertisements, notices and the creation of a logo that will identify which dealers are associated with the trail.

Sen. Kane and Karen Reddington-Hughes, owner of Abrash Galleries Rugs and Antiquities, said the trail is similar in concept to the state’s Wine Trail, which promotes vineyards with road signs.

Ms. Reddington-Hughes said the idea was inspired in part by a similar trail that exists within Woodbury, developed by the Woodbury Antiques Dealer Association and the antiques trail in Mystic.

“We’re like the Wine Trail but with one vineyard at the moment, so what we need to do is expand that and let the tourists and the other people that live in the state see the breadth of what we have to offer as far as antiques,” she said.

When asked how the economic downturn has affected her business, Ms. Reddington-Hughes said that although antique sales have not been as high as they were before, her business still receives a lot of restoration and repair requests.

“Design-wise it’s not as busy as it was eight years ago, but I would say that it’s picked up from two years ago,” she said.

“I think that what you’re seeing now is slow and steady growth, which I am happy with.”

Sen. Kane said local antique dealers who approached him with the concept of an antiques trail.

“Basically it came from the dealers here in town that approached me about the proposing the legislation, so I give them the credit, Sen. Kane said. “I’m just the one moving the ball down the court, so to speak; the idea was theirs.”

He said antique dealers wouldn’t be the only people benefiting from the legislation, noting that drawing more people to town could benefit many businesses.

“What it does is, it helps the ancillary businesses as well, the gas stations, the diners, the cleaners, the grocery stores. Bringing activity to the area helps everyone,” he said.

Sen. Kane also visited Wayne Mattox Antiques and spoke with owner Wayne Mattox about the state of antiques dealing in the area.

Mr. Mattox showed several of his rare finds to those attending the event, including a bronze cast of Victor David Brenner’s widely renowned image of Abraham Lincoln, the image that appears on the penny.

Mr. Mattox considers himself to be a general collector, collecting everything from Revolutionary War period furniture and stoves to a New York City detective’s badge to pieces of folk art.

Mr. Mattox commented on his love of history, noting he wants to ensure that younger generations learn about and appreciate the value of historic artifacts.

“Here’s what antiques do, they tell stories,” Mr. Mattox said as he referenced pieces in his gallery.

“I’d love to see young kids understand that history isn’t boring,” he said. “It’s exciting and at times profitable.”

First Selectman Gerald Stomski proposed a way for Mr. Mattox and other antique dealers to present their knowledge and artifacts to the public.

Mr. Stomski noted the Old Town Hall building has been undergoing renovations and he had been considering doing a re-opening ceremony.

He suggested the town could work with local antique dealers to create a re-opening celebration that would show off various artifacts.

Mr. Stomski said the town came across several old items while renovating the Old Town Hall building, from 1930s gum wrappers to an 1890s hymn book.

He said he would look into whether or not the schools would be interested in attending such an event.