County antique business downsizing
Jason’s Antiques, located on Washington Street in Bolivar, will soon see a change in location and inventory. Owner Bob Hardy has shared that he plans to close one building of the multi-building enterprise at year’s end. The familiar ‘Open’ sign at the corner building beside the Bank of Charles Town will extinguish Dec. 31.
Hardy explained that the recent recession hit the antique business hard and it is not feasible to continue to maintain all the separate buildings. With the decision to start downsizing, Hardy said there is a liquidation sale underway.
“Overhead costs are very high, which help make profit less,” Hardy explained. “We are reducing inventory and our costs,” he said.
Hardy, who began the business known as Jason’s (his middle name as well as the name of his son), in 1977 as a simple clock shop, has expanded over the years to include reproduction furniture as well as a complete line of antiques.
“We sold just about everything over these 37 years,” Hardy said, including furniture, toys, Civil War items and phonographs as well as his beloved clocks.
Hardy, who traveled to the metropolitan area from 1968 to 1989, retired from Hazelton Laboratories in Reston, Virginia. Upon retirement, he devoted each day to the antique business in Bolivar, a place he is proud to call home.
He explained that his uncle developed in him a love of clocks that led to that first small venture of the clock shop.
“He had no children and he took a liking to me,” Hardy shared. “We started going to sales and getting clocks. I’ve loved them ever since.”
Hardy calls his business of 37 years a “dream world,” at least until the recent recession hit.
“I never had a desire for this to be a fancy place,” he said of the local shops, especially the main building now being closed. “But it was a place for people to come and ramble through.”
He shared stories of meeting thousands of people rummaging through the shops looking for just the perfect buy.
“People came from everywhere,” he said.
“And we’ve had some of the most beautiful antiques you’d ever want to see,” he said of inventory over the years.
The business has also served as a gathering place for locals who stop in to discuss everything from the weather to local politics.
Hardy is no stranger to those local politics as he currently serves as the town’s mayor. Over 33 years, Hardy has served as a police commissioner, a council member, town recorder and now mayor.
“We used to meet in the old jail building,” he laughed. “We didn’t have a library, a medical center, a park, a community building. We only had one paved road. What we’ve worked for, I’m very proud of,” he said of the improvements to the town during his service.
The decision to close his main building has been a difficult one.
“Dec. 31 will be the hardest day of my life to walk out of here,” he said as he looked around at the antiques still available. At his feet sat an Army truck, circa 1920 and at his hand a wind up policeman toy, circa 1930.
Hardy said that the liquidation sale is not only on items in the main building, but in each of the buildings that make up Jason’s Antiques. Most items, he said, are reduced at cost. Some, that are offered on consignment from other sellers may not be on sale.
Currently the only full time employee, Hardy says he will offer hours Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 12 to 4 p.m. Appointments are also available and may be made by calling the Hardy at 304-535-2450 or 304-582-2233.