Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine Business Review May 2009.
Silverado Antique Centre
By Kristin Ranuio
Do what you love and the money will follow, as the old adage goes. Over thirty years ago Rich Brazzi and Bob Corell did just that, turning their love of antiques into a thriving business, and never looking back. Now it is bittersweet for them that they announce their final retail store’s closing. May will be the last month of business for the Silverado Antique Centre in the Napa Town Center, across from the old Mervyns’s building.
“We’re at that point in our lives. Thirty years ago it wasn’t difficult to move a piano or sideboard or an étagère,” Bob says with a laugh. “We’re facing the facts of time here.”
It all began in the 1970’s when the duo opened their first antique store on Main Street. The small store expanded rapidly and they moved their business, the Napa Antique Centre, to First Street where Copia now stands. Multiple antique malls followed; Red Hen Antiques, Riverfront Antique Centre, Silverado Antiques on Lincoln Avenue and, finally Silverado Antiques Town Center.
The partner’s passion for antiques is obvious. Rich’s eyes light up and Bob becomes animated when recalling stories about foreign buying experiences and special customers. In fact, they still remember their very first customer, Charlotte, who remains a friend to this day.
When asked to recall a favorite story, neither could choose just one. “Every day is a new life experience, especially working with the public”, recalls Bob.
After amassing their own collection of antiques, the pair invited other dealers to join them, thus creating one of the first antique malls in the area. At one point, with several stores operating, they had over two hundred antique dealers selling in their malls, enabling them to offer an incredibly vast selection to their customers. So as to not compete with their dealers, who sold primarily American antiques and collectibles, the partners began buying in England and Scotland then shipping large containers of selected antique pieces to Napa.
Rich says, “We established a warehouse in Lake Como, Italy and bought Italian, French and Belgian antique furniture, then began buying bronze statuary in Thailand, that was really fun!” He and general manager Brian Bergevin can laugh now as he recalls one container that had arrived from Italy containing exquisite high end furniture only to discover the marble tops smashed to pieces.
Brian has been employed with them for over twenty years, since he was a teenager. Another key member of the Silverado Antiques family is Richard (Carl) Cole, who has been with them for more than fifteen years. The atmosphere is indeed like a family. Many of the antique dealers are old timers also; several have been selling through the partner’s malls for over 20 years.
Bob and Rich plan on staying in the antique business, just in different ways. “We’re shifting gears, not actually retiring: we’re retiring from the aspect of having a retail outlet,” says Bob. Rich is pursuing a new career as a Professional Fiduciary, assisting the elderly with asset control and Bob will continue in the appraisal and estate liquidation business. They will also be overseeing their antique business in the Amish country of Ohio and shipping fine European and American furniture to Shanghai, China, which is proving to be an exciting new adventure.
“After thirty plus years of being open seven days a week, plus the current state of the economy, we are ready to expand our horizons”, says Rich.
Although they plan to continue selling via their website (now under construction), they are selling their entire current inventory, including a large collection of clocks, display cases and all fixtures.
“Rather than move items to storage, we are selling out. Beginning May 2nd, we will be selling all furniture and antique collectibles, everything that we have remaining in stock in the town center store. This is a great time to come in and buy. Antiques will never be lower priced. By heavy discounting, it will be our way of thanking our loyal past customers for years of patronage. Many of the antique dealers in the mall will also be present during the sale to make their inventory available at discounted prices.”
“We really appreciate the thirty years of business, and being part of the antique community here in Napa,” says Bob. For more information, please call (707) 253-1966 or email Silveradoantiques@Hotmail.com.