After 25 years in business, the Haddon Heights Antiques Center is celebrating an exciting silver anniversary. Owner Barbara Lind took a leap of faith and opened the first of what would eventually be two antique centers on January 15, 1993.
At the time, Lind was an accountant who collected antiques and occasionally set up at antique shows. She rented a large storefront on busy Clements Bridge Road in Haddon Heights, NJ and found 35 antique dealers to share her dream. Within two years, she almost doubled the space by expanding to the second floor of the building. Not long after that, she took over the space next door that had been occupied by a beauty parlor. Around the same time, she also purchased the old grist mill in Pemberton, NJ, and opened the Grist Mill Antiques Center. To say that Lind became a busy entrepreneur would be an understatement.
Today, nearly 60 dealers, many with multiple spaces, partner with Lind in Camden County’s oldest antique center; about a quarter of them have been with her for 20 or more years. That kind of dealer loyalty, combined with amazing customer loyalty, contributes to the shop’s longevity and success.
Lind is the first to admit that the antique business has changed tremendously over the past 25 years. “Our first hurdle was competing with eBay,” she says. “But customers have found that they want to hold an object in their hands before buying it. Here, they can do that and there’s no shipping charge. Lately, there are many more thrift stores around. But in a thrift store, people learn that they have to sift through a lot of coal before finding a diamond.”
Lind is a great believer in offering discounts as incentives for customers to buy. She has consistently promoted a monthly special display in which dealers contribute antiques and collectibles that fit a theme. She is also proud of the fact that the Haddon Heights Antiques Center has a wide variety of merchandise from china and jewelry to vintage holiday decorations and toys. “One thing that never changes in the antique business is the fact that people want to buy back their childhood, and they look for objects that spark those memories,” she says.