Preston's treasure trove of the weird and wonderful at Antiques Centre
Sue Shalloe found an interest and a natural gift for antiques when visiting shops and auctions as a young girl.
Yet she had little idea she would make a career of her taste for all things antique which has served her well for the last 30 years running the largest antiques centre in the North West at The Preston Antique Centre in Horrocks Mill in New Hall Road.
Sue’s experience for acquiring rare and unusual finds has seen her and a knowledgeable team of antique sellers supply anything from furniture to Egyptian models to a 20-foot statue of Blackpool Tower to loyal customers worldwide.
Sue, who hails from Littleborough, and who opened her first shop Ribble Valley Antiques in the late 1970s, remembers those early days in the business when buyers would be queuing up to secure the best buys.
She said: “I had to move to a bigger shop. We did so well, I could not get in things fast enough.
“We had such a mix of everything, a lot like we still have now.
“And I used to drive all over the country for auctions – it was a booming business.”
It was during this time Sue built up a solid network of customers and fellow antique sellers, which helped to build her growing reputation in the industry.
From a shop in New Hall Lane, she came across the vacancy at Horrockses Mill in 1982 and moved the business to the 50,000 sq ft premises.
Today the converted cotton mill spans over three floors with nearly 30 different businesses whose stocks range from Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian furniture, including bookcases, dressers, bedroom furniture, tables, chairs, mirrors and much more.
Sue says: “We are the biggest antique centre in the North West with customers from Asia and the United States but we still get people coming locally to us.
“We get visitors coming to us for the first time, sometimes from Preston saying ‘we had no idea you were here’ and they think it’s a treasure trove.”
Among their goods are a wide choice of country antiques, aged oak, rustic pine and farmhouse furniture to collectables from the Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts era, as well as retro and deco items too.
Sue’s daughter Vickie who also works at the centre, is often uploading their Facebook page with new and interesting artifacts and paraphernalia.
Another of Sue’s daughters works upcycling and restoring furniture.
The centre has also been featured regularly on antique television programmes from Antiques Roadtrip and the celebrity version of Storage Hunters.
Sue adds: “It’s always good fun to have the TV crews in, helping to search out different pieces and giving advice.
“This place over the years has been filled with the weird and the wonderful. No week is the same in antiques and people are becoming more involved again.
“There is definitely a demand for quality and aged furniture particularly, people want to fill their homes with pieces that have a history or a story and that looks good too.”
Vickie says: “We have had so many rare and unusual things come in.
“Some you look at and think, it will never sell but in the world of antiques you never quite know what one customer to the next might be looking for.
“Not so long ago we had a full suit of armour and we’ve had some beautiful oriental and ornate pieces which have easily fetched into five figures.
“One time we even had a replica of the Rovers Return bar!“I think the centre’s reputation and the knowledge we have here definitely helps in building relationships with our customers and keeps them coming back.
“Many people just enjoy a good look around too!”
The centre will soon be introducing a new market weekend event, with people welcome to reserve tables to sell their own goods.