John Hayes, Antique Furniture Specialist

It all started innocently enough. John Hayes grew up in Michigan and moved to Virginia in the early 80s, marrying his wife, Jan. In 2009, he retired early with the plan to do a little woodworking and play golf four or five times per week.

“I found that was too much golf for me,” he said, and his focus turned to the woodworking. After attending a woodworking class in Kentucky, his hobby took on a life of its own as he spent more and more of his time at it and even opened a shop in Culpeper.

Jan, though, had been a long time antiques appreciator, having grown up in her uncle’s antique shop in Northern Virginia. Before John knew it her appreciation had rubbed off on him, complimenting his appreciation for quality workmanship, and it wasn’t long before he began carrying antiques and collectibles in his shop. They developed a relationship with a neighboring shop owner, Norma Jean Early, and decided to partner with her at Georgie Mae’s Antiques & Collectibles.

This past October, the shop expanded to include a couple booths and cases at Ruckersville Gallery. They soon tripled their selling space at the Gallery, and now have a whole aisle. John estimates that between Culpeper, the Gallery, eBay, and the website he spends upwards of 40 hours per week on his “part-time” business! Jan helps out when she can, buying, listing items on eBay, and arranging the items at Georgie Mae’s and Ruckersville Gallery into attractive scenes.

John was kind enough to share some of his knowledge about furniture, and explain what drew him into the business:

What are some of the high quality details that you look for in antique furniture?

Joinery is certainly the most important aspect for me, but I also look for wood grain and figure, nice inlay details, and pieces with a nice finish and patina. Strong joints mean a long life for a piece of furniture.  Joinery that helps the parts lock together (mortise & tenon, through tenons, dovetails, dados & rabbets, tongue & groove,) goes a long way in the overall quality.  Also, I always check the back and undersides.  Much of the joinery quality can be inspected here, and you can see if corners were cut

What types of items do you carry in your shops?

Lots of antique and vintage furniture, but certainly not limited to that.  I have antiques and collectibles of all kinds: glass, porcelain, ceramics, dolls, clocks, and more.

What is your favorite thing about being a dealer?

I’m always attracted to unique and different items, and that can lead me in lots of directions, which gets me doing a lot of research into new areas.  I’d say a big part of the satisfaction of this business is the constant learning and the people I’ve met.  I’ve gotten to know quite a few antique dealers.  Some of them have been doing this for years and are quite knowledgeable.  I’ll seek their input and have learned a lot from them.  For that matter, I’ve also learned a lot from some of my customers.

Jan and I often ask ourselves why anyone would ever buy china, glassware, pottery, or furniture new when such high quality vintage and antique pieces having so much more character are available for a lot, lot, less.

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Next time you stop by Ruckersville Gallery, be sure to say hello to John and Jan, and see some of the great pieces they have to offer!