Recycling the Past


Source: Asbury Park Press - Small Business Strategies
Author: DAVID P. WILLIS - Business Writer
Posted: Monday, May 10, 2004

It was a great find for Matthew S. White, who owns a Barnegat business that sells architectural antiques; about 100 pieces from Asbury Park's historic Mayfair Theatre, which was demolished about 25 years ago.

"That theater was just packed," said White, a co-owner of Recycling the Past. He purchased the contents last September from someone who had the items in storage. Almost everything was sold to a dealer a month later.

White praised the "uniqueness of the items, the fact that someone cared to save them." The pieces included iron railings, lighting fixtures, large plaster finials and even an old drinking fountain.

"I love to see people excited and in awe of the neat things we get," White said. "I just love to sell old stuff. Rather than burning it or throwing it away, I would like to give new life to it."

White, 27, and his father Stephen C. White have owned the business for about two years, taking an equal role in acquiring and selling architectural antiques.

The seeds of the younger White's passion for old things were planted when he was a freshman at Shawnee High School in Medford. He went to auctions with his father and headed for the less expensive items.

He would buy items such as old augers or hand planes. White carried his goods around in a car and drove to antiques shops to sell them.

"Occasionally you would sell one or two pieces a week," White said. Sometimes he wouldn't sell anything.

For a teen-ager's business, it went pretty well, he said. "Every now and then you could make a couple hundred dollars a month."

White enrolled in Delaware Valley College in Doylestown, Pa., in 1990 to seek a degree in horticulture but left school in 1993 and followed some friends to New Mexico, living there for about six months before he moved to New York City.

About five years ago, White and his father, who had been in the landscaping and construction business for three decades, began making furniture and crafts out of old barn wood. The younger White also bought old windows, and replaced the clear glass with mirrors. They began to sell items at craft shows and flea markets.

He continued to go to markets and elsewhere to buy "anything I could buy low and sell high." Antiques still were not a fulltime job. From 1995 to 1996, White worked as a mate on a charter fishing boat out of Barnegat Light. But the antiques and furniture business evolved and the father and son decided to make it full-time. "We started doing well and it was time to give it a name," White said.

Recycling The Past - Architectural Salvage
381 North Main Street, Barnegat, NJ 08005

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