Architectural Antiques expanding in Two HarborsA decade-old Two Harbors business has found a new home—in a century-old building.
By: LaReesa Sandretsky, Lake County News Chronicle
A decade-old Two Harbors business has found a new home—in a century-old building.
John McCarthy has owned North Shore Architectural Antiques in Two Harbors since 2002 and he recently purchased the Scandinavian Merchantile Building on Seventh Street.
Architectural antiquing is a business Mc Carthy said he stumbled into when he was a geology consultant looking for a new career.
“I got tired of the consulting world,” he said.
He switched his focus to buying, renovating and reselling houses. The venture didn’t end up being profitable, so he reluctantly returned to his full-time work. During his renovation days, however, he acquired a stockpile of old house parts such as sinks, siding and door knobs.
Instead of putting them into storage or scrapping the antique pieces, he and his wife Christine decided to sell them and the shop was born.
The business has expanded from there, with the couple purchasing salvage rights to buildings slated for demolition to stock their shop. The permits give them permission to enter ancient buildings and save anything that might be worth reselling. They’ve worked in all types of buildings, for example, the McCarthys had salvage rights to the old Two Harbors High School before it was demolished.
More recently, they heard about a house that promised some salvageable materials, but the timing wasn’t ideal. They were informed of the demolition at 4 p.m. on a Sunday, and the house was slated for destruction at 8 a.m. the next morning. The lengthy permitting process was condensed to just three hours, and by 7 p.m. the couple was in the house. They didn’t leave until 3:30 a.m.
With the unconventional hours—especially difficult for somebody employed full-time—McCarthy hopes he and his wife can dedicate all of their time to the shop within the next 10 years.
McCarthy said expansion of their business has been slow going because he insists on expanding on capital rather than credit. Now that he’s saved the money to purchase the new building, he will be giving up monthly rent for the first time since starting his business.
“We’ve turned a corner and things are going well,” he said.
The 30,000-square-foot building was constructed in 1894 and needs some work, but McCarthy hopes to completely move his business there before the first of June.
Once settled, he and his wife will work on the other aspects of their business. While the antique salvaged items will occupy the entire bottom floor, the top floor will be split into two new ventures.
Later this summer, they hope to open an art gallery—six artists have already agreed to rent a booth in the space. A long-term goal is to create a crafting retreat in the second half of the upstairs, a dream of Christine’s. While they’re hoping to continue their modest success, they have no big aspirations for the business.
“The goal is for it to support us once the kids are gone and keep us occupied and happy,” McCarthy said.
The new building solidifies their commitment to being in Two Harbors, despite the fact that many of their customers are from Duluth and Superior.
“Our customers look for an excuse to come up here,” McCarthy said. “We love it here.”
Architectural Antiques will be open in its old location at 616 Second Avenue until the move is complete, Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call the shop at 834-0018.