The next weekend I made the pilgrimage to a local salvage company and the moment I walked through the doors LIGHTNING STRUCK! The puzzle came together. I had found the missing piece. Six weeks later I had quit my job in sales and started salvaging (or at that time RIPPING) out a Boston brownstone and throwing the materials in my garage to sell at a local flea market. My wife thought I was insane, especially when I cashed in my 401k to buy more junk.
Soon I grew tired of the flea market gig, so I re-arranged my 2-car garage into a shop and threw an "OPEN" sign on the front lawn. I operated this way for over a year until one day a friend stopped by while I was trying to jam a 9' Victorian entryway through an 8' doorway. He said, "Hey, do you think its time to move??" I took the hint, and moved to greener pastures and larger doorways, and ever since I get up every morning and go to work with a smile on my face, and my wife only thinks I'm crazy half the time.
The first store was located at 5 Market Square in downtown Amesbury, Ma. It was a great location, and I filled it up quickly. Soon after moving in I met Donna Eldredge who quickly became my business partner in Nor'east. Donna was responsible for creating the Nor'east website. Back then working on the website was a once a week chore that quickly progressed to a 40+ hour a week responsibility.
Fast-forward 4 years to the fall of 2003. Donna and I had completely outgrown our first store as well as our warehouse and garage, so it was time to move again. This time into a large warehouse just around the corner from the original store. Located at 14 Oakland Street in Amesbury, the second shop had 6 times the space the first store had, as well as plenty of parking (something the first store lacked)
We spent the next 3 years in that warehouse (which never did get above 52 degrees in the winter). It was definitely a time for growth and change.
By the beginning of 2006 Nor'East was rapidly expanding, and we had to expand right along with it. After landing several large-scale salvage jobs in the span of a few short months we once again outgrew our current location so it was time to move again. This time we did it right and purchased a 40,000 square foot building located on 6 acres of land. In September, 2006, we closed up shop in Massachusetts began the long process of moving our very large and established business across town and state lines to South Hampton, Nh. I'd love to say it was a quick and easy move, but that was not the case. We were closed for most of October, but by November we were up and running again in our new location.
By the spring of 2007 we had filled our entire 40,000 warehouse and showroom with fantastic architectural salvage. When we purchased our building we estimated it would take us 3 years to fill it, boy were we wrong! In addition to the typical salvage we had been stocking for years, we expanded our product line to include beams and bricks. Something that had been impossible before we had outdoor storage.
2007 flew by, and so did the spring of 2008. Business was great and our warehouse was practically overflowing. Then unfortunately, disaster struck.
On June 3rd, 2008, at 6:49 pm, a fire broke out in our warehouse. It spread quickly, and all of our inventory and our main building and warehouse were completely destroyed. We also lost our 3 beloved store cats, Lilly, Jack and Caesar, in the blaze. The fire was a massive, 6 alarm fire with 22 towns responding. It took almost 24 hours to completely extinguish. The day after the fire, while Donna and I were still in a state of shock, friends of ours showed up to help us sift through the rubble of what had, just 2 days earlier, represented a decade of very hard work and irreplaceable inventory. We salvaged very little, recycled the rest, cleaned up the site and started over again. 3 days after the fire we did our first post-fire salvage job. We brought in storage containers to store the items, and started rebuilding. For the following 9 months we worked out of a construction trailer onsite while we rebuilt, and in the spring of 2009 we reopened.
Today our showroom and warehouse are once again fully stocked with fantastic architectural antiques. We are in the process of building a third building, and a forth will follow that. With the tragedy of the fire behind us, We are once again able to come to work ever day with a smile on our faces.
And the story continues...
John H. Isgur
Founder of Nor'East Architectural Antiques