Fifty years ago, Napier’s Country Antiques first opened its doors on 216 Street in Milner. It has stayed at the same location ever since.
With two floors and a backyard filled with antiques, it appears to have everything customers could possibly be looking for.
The driving force behind the business, Ken Napier, can also be found in the shop, accompanied by his wife, Nancy.
Ken Napier said he’s always had a thing for antiques, but the interest was sparked in his early teens.
“When I was 14, I rode my bike over to a second hand store in Cloverdale to learn the business. I worked for nothing for the guy just to learn what I was doing.”
Shortly after graduation, Ken started a business in equipment rental and sales. That business only last six months until he decided he wanted to buy and sell things — particularly old things.
From an old barn on his father’s poultry farm in Milner, Ken made his first sale as an antiques dealer. He sold a set of salt and pepper shakers.
As the business grew, Ken bought his own property and moved the business to 6743 216 St. where the antique store has remained ever since.
Ken used to travel around looking for antiques, but he said nowadays, 95 per cent of his stock is sold to him by pickers.
Approximately two to three truckloads of antiques come to the store every day.
And times are always changing, he explained. The Napiers used to ship containers from England to sell things like antique love seats and wardrobes to other stores and auctions.
“We used to carry good quality furniture imported from England but the market has changed. If you see how many antique stores are left, there’s nobody left in this business.
So what’s happened is the movie industry is in a position where we sell a lot of stuff to them. The movie industry has been a real blessing to us.”
As for the general public, Ken said the most popular items are ‘man-cave’ decor, advertising signs, galvanized buckets and oil cans.
“It’s a generation change, but I’m not upset by it. It’s the way it is.”
The rarest item Ken has come across in his 50 years in business is a Chippendale furniture set from 1888 that he sold for $20,000.
Another surprise was inside a dresser from England.
Ken was removing the dresser drawers when he felt something unusual. He found an envelope containing six hundred British pounds.
Although he prides himself in finding whatever item a customer may ask for, he’s not too keen on keeping things for himself.
“I’m not a collector. My fun is to buy, sell and trade. All I collect is Wishing Well pop and anything to do with Milner. And Wishing Well pop started in Milner.”
At almost 70 years old, Ken plans to keep working in the shop with the help of his family.
Ken met his wife, Nancy, on a blind date seven years after the antique store opened. Nancy said she knew Ken had an antique shop, but it wasn’t at all what she expected.
“It was so full, he nearly disappeared and I thought ‘what the heck.’ But I’m glad I married him. And it’s definitely helped us raise our children,” said Nancy.
With the help of their children, grandchildren and friends, Ken and Nancy plan to run Napier’s Antiques for as long as they can. The Napiers said their close friends Barry and Donna have played a large role in helping them run the shop.
Napier’s Country Antiques is located at 6743 216 St. in Milner. The store will be open on Saturday, Oct. 13, as Ken and Nancy celebrate their 50th anniversary.