Today we’d like to introduce you to our fabulous retailer, Jennifer Rowntree from Rowntree Antiques! Read on to learn a bit about her shop and why she’s passionate about her work.
Click here for French version.
We interviewed Jennifer Rowntree, owner of Rowntree Antiques in Montreal, Quebec to learn a little bit more about her store, what it’s like to be a Country Chic Paint retailer, and why she loves what she does. Read on to learn more about her story!
Jennifer’s earliest memories of growing up in England were those of following her mother to country estate auctions and auction houses in search of treasures to furnish the 350 year old family farmhouse. She caught the ‘bug’ which started her lifelong love of antiques – particularly furniture.
At the age of 21 she immigrated to Canada (and settled in Montreal, Quebec) and was surprised at how little there was in the way of real antiques. After a 10 year corporate working life, a supportive partner (of almost 40 years now) and two children she decided to fulfill her dream of opening her own business.
With an infant and a toddler in arms, she made her first trip back to the U.K. and successfully purchased a shipping container load of country pine antique furniture and accessories. Initially she ran her business out of a storage locker sending out mailings to friends and family (the original form of social networking!). Within two months everything had sold and she had to return to hunt for more goodies in the English countryside.
As time went on and her children were settled in school she decided to open a retail store. She rented a small space, but had to expand twice to accommodate her growing business. By the mid 90s she was receiving two 40 foot shipping containers a year, still full of original painted country pine furniture. Realizing that she was paying a lot of rent for her locations, she decided it was time to consolidate her growing business into one location and started hunting for the perfect building to buy. After three years of fruitless search she decided to buy an old wreck of a building, knock it down, and build the type of building she always had had in her mind’s eye. Today Rowntree Antiques occupies a 5,000 square foot location in central Montreal on Atwater Avenue. She has made life even easier by converting the second floor into an apartment where she and her partner live today.
Jennifer says her favourite thing about being a business owner, apart from the trips to Europe to buy, is meeting the different people who come into her store. She has been in business for over thirty years and she’s met multiple generations of antique hunters from all over the world!
In the early years of Rowntree Antiques, the majority of her stock came from England but as sources dried up and prices increased she extended her search to continental Europe – Holland, Belgium and after the Iron Curtain fell – Czech and Slovak Republics and more recently Hungary (giving her access to Romanian and Ukrainian painted furniture). Jennifer makes a point of hand-picking every piece that she buys in Europe and ensures that all pieces are finished to a high quality and ready to display in the shop. Wherever possible she tries to keep pieces in their original paint finish – especially some of the hand painted decorative items. Sadly, these are getting harder and harder to find but, nevertheless, customers still love colour.
What it’s like being a CCP retailer…
Jennifer decided, in the fall of 2016, that it was time to bring a line of paint into her store to meet the demands of her clientele looking for specific furniture colours to go with their décor – a colour range not always found on antique pieces. She was drawn to Country Chic Paint, after watching them pitch on Dragons’ Den in Canada, by their quality of product and supportive friendly professional team. Jennifer says she very much appreciates the social media support (so different from her days of licking stamps and sending out mailings!), customer service and education she receives as a retailer. Her favorite product is Vanilla Frosting All-In-One Decor Paint. The soft off-white is reminiscent of many of the early hand-painted pieces she used to find in Europe.
Jennifer extends a warm welcome to anyone wishing to help celebrate Montreal’s 375th birthday this year. If you go, don’t forget to drop by Rowntree Antiques and say hello!
If you want to find out more about becoming a Country Chic Paint retailer, please visit www.countrychicpaint.com/wholesale.