Lewis preserves family tradition

Published 12:45 am Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Pet Lewis, owner of South Market Antiques, displays a vintage revolving Christmas tree in her shop Tuesday afternoon in downtown Washington. (WDN Photo/Jonathan Clayborne)

She got it honest.

Pat Lewis, owner of Washington’s South Market Antiques, grew up on a tradition established by her grandfather, Wilmer Williams, who owned Williams’ Junk Shop in Pinetown.

Later, Lewis’ parents took over the grandfather’s enterprise, continuing the family business on weekends.

Despite growing up among treasured relics, Lewis didn’t begin her working life in the antiques trade.

She was employed at PCS Phosphate — now PotashCorp — in Aurora for 23-and-a-half years before starting a new business after her husband died.

Lewis’ forays into the world of preowned collectibles took form in seven different booths at antiques malls around eastern North Carolina.

“That was fine for a while, but it got tiring,” she said.

She has closed all but one of her out-of-town booths and, since November 2010, has been selling on South Market Street.

Her dream of business ownership was temporarily derailed Aug. 27 by Hurricane Irene, which pushed 2 inches of water into her original location next door.

Working with her landlord, Garry Keech, Lewis relocated to 124 S. Market, making room for repairs in her old space. That space was soon occupied by Washington Emporium, which is using the spot as a temporary home until its Main Street storefront — also damaged by Irene — reopens.

Jayne Meisell and Rebecca Clark with Washington Emporium aided Lewis through the relocation, helping her paint the new store’s interior, while Keech made some alterations in both stores.

The team effort paid off, and Lewis was back in business before long.

“They were anxious for me to open back up,” she said of her friends and colleagues.

On Tuesday, Lewis busied herself waiting on customers and making phone calls, the usual labor of the day, surrounded by unusual items — a chalkware sailor figurine, a Victorian fainting couch, a painted dresser, primitive furniture and product memorabilia.

“My favorite is the primitives and the advertising, but I have a little of everything for my customers,” she said.

Personally, “The pottery is my favorite, and primitive furniture,” she added, acknowledging she has a large collection at home, perhaps a reflection of her grandfather’s legacy.

South Market Antiques is open from noon until 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

For more information, call the store at 252-940-0930 or visit its page on Facebook.

If you would like to nominate a Beaufort County-based business for BizLine, call 252-946-2144, ext. 230, or email jonathan.clayborne@thewashingtondailynews.com.