Antique store in an antique home
Roots of Antioch family business run deep
By Jason Arndt
Inspired by their grandparents’ hobby of dealing antiques, the sister and brother duo of Heather Fenzel and Ben Purrazzo Jr. have carried on the tradition as co-owners of Family Heirloom Antiques in Antioch, Ill.
Family Heirloom Antiques, 1098 Main St., opened six months ago following more than a year of restoration efforts on a home from the early 1900’s.
“Our grandmother and grandfather were antique dealers, so my brother and I were raised going to flea markets, garage sales, estate sales.” said the 32-year-old Fenzel, who worked alongside her brother selling antiques out of malls and on their eBay website before an opportunity presented itself about two years ago.
“And we decided, ‘Why don’t we do this on our own?” Fenzel said. “So then we purchased this property almost two years ago and then flipped it into an antique store.”
The home-turned-store has a history of its own. The original owners bought the property in the late 1800’s.
“It is considered an American four-square and it was finished in 1915,” said Fenzel. “The woman that we purchased it from, her grandfather built this home. She was born here with four other siblings, so there were seven people in this tiny home with one bathroom.”
Purrazzo Jr., 33, estimates the original owners bought the property in 1870.
Following restoration efforts, the two co-owners opened the business doors to customers, who are often surprised by their youthful appearance and the evolving inventory.
“People don’t necessarily correlate our age with people that like antiques,” said Fenzel, who often learns from the customers who walk through the doors.
“We have gentleman who is very knowledgeable about fountain pens – there is a Fountain Pen Association, we would have never known that – so he comes in and tells us about the fountain pen and what we are looking for.”
Plenty of items
From sports memorabilia, to sterling silver, glassware and clothing, the store boasts an extensive inventory throughout the former home.
The outside features several concrete lawn ornaments, along with larger items housed in the garage showroom.
Along with the outside, and interior items, there is something for everyone, Fenzel said.
“We have so much, and what is crazy is that this is not all we have,” Fenzel said. “We have two warehouses full of other things, so we bring in stuff every week.”
Since they opened, Fenzel and her brother have swapped out inventory on four occasions, which usually gives customers a refreshed perspective when they return.
“We have switched over four times, people come here twice a month, and see something different or something has changed,” said Fenzel. “We don’t want to be static, we want to keep the ball rolling in the direction of change.”
Fenzel, also an interior designer, spends her time maintaining an orderly flow of the business, organizing all of the rooms according to historical era and categories.
Along with the first floor living room, they have three second-floor bedrooms filled with a variety of items, including furniture.
“(Customers) think it’s really clean and they like the organization,” she said. “There are three bedrooms upstairs. One room is for the ’50s and ’60s and then one is for all of the kitchen type of things, everything from China to porcelain, all the way up to sterling silver.”
The third bedroom has miscellaneous items, including clothing.
“They should expect a really fun, family atmosphere, things are always changing and we have a wide variety of items,” said Fenzel.
The family atmosphere includes Fenzel’s two children, Clark, who is 2 1/2 years old, and 4-month old Addison.
Fenzel reports her son already knows how a rotary phone works.
“My son is probably the only 2-year-old that knows how to use a rotary phone,” she said.
Another element of the business is that Purrazzo Jr. spends time fixing and restoring items brought in by customers.
Even after the store closes at 5 p.m., business is still accessible online at their website, eBay or Etsy.
“It’s almost like a 24-hour store,” said Fenzel.
According to the eBay page, they have operated from the online auction website since 2012, and have drawn 68 positive reviews.
Hours of operation are Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.
For more information, Family Heirloom Antiques is accessible at www.familyheirloomantiques.com, on Facebook at Family Heirloom Antiques along with eBay.
Also, they are available by phone at (224) 788-8390