SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

November 27, 2013

Longtime Marblehead fixture is closing its doors

Sacks Antiques has filled corner shop at State & Front streets since 1920

BY ETHAN FORMAN
STAFF WRITER

---- — MARBLEHEAD — Sacks Antiques, a fixture on State Street for nearly 100 years, will soon become part of Marblehead history.

Owner Stan Sacks is holding a retirement sale for the family business next week during Marblehead’s annual Christmas Walk.

“Everything has to come to an end,” said Sacks, 89, of Newton.

Frank Kaminski of Kaminski Auctions in Beverly — a friend of Sacks for 25 years — will handle the closing sale. It was Kaminski who advised Sacks that now, while he is in good health, may be the time to wrap up the family business, which traces its roots to an antique repair shop his grandfather opened in 1899 on Charles Street in Boston.

Sacks built his business by buying and selling things that he likes — right down to the last teacup.

“Almost everything in the shop, if I come to purchase it, I have to like it,” he said.

Asked if one can make a good living running an antique store in Marblehead, Sacks noted he is living comfortably at Lasell Village, a retirement community on the campus of Lasell College in Newton, where he takes college courses.

“The best part of it is no report cards,” he said.

Deb Pesanti Payson, executive director of the Marblehead Chamber of Commerce, said she will sorely miss Sacks Antiques, which is an institution in town. Stan Sacks even has a sandwich named after him — the Stan Special, toasted tuna fish with lettuce and tomato — at nearby Driftwood Restaurant.

“I am personally very sad, and I have a 10-year-old, and it’s his favorite shop,” Payson said. She said the shop has an eclectic mix of antiques, from furnishings worth $10,000 to old newspaper clippings.

“I am really excited that he is coordinating his closing efforts around the Christmas Walk,” Payson said.

Sacks Antiques was a charter member of the Marblehead Chamber.

Sacks’ grandfather, Hyman, an immigrant from Odessa, Russia, first opened an antique shop in Boston in 1899. He died in 1927, two years after Stan was born.

Sacks’ father, Abraham, or Abe — who went by the nickname of “Jim” in Marblehead — branched out from his father Hyman’s business by opening an antique store in Marblehead at the urging of a relative, who told him, “he should be in Marblehead because Marblehead had many antique dealers at that time.”

Abe Sacks was just a teenager when, about 1915, he loaded a truck full of antiques and drove it to Marblehead. In those days, it was not easy to get to the North Shore, and he had to take a ferry. He rented a cellar location on State Street two doors down from where the present store stands. The rent was $3 a month.

Stan’s father served in the Army in World War I, and he was promoted to the rank of corporal because he knew how to use a typewriter. After the war, in 1920, he bought the building on the corner of State and Front streets. The building has historic significance, Stan said, as it was a warehouse that once belonged to a Capt. Chandler, who served on the USS Constitution in 1812.

About 40 years ago, the building was sold to the DeVan brothers, his present landlords.

Stan was the second-oldest of four children and the only one who had any interest in selling antiques. When he was 8 or 9 years old, he remembers, he sneaked into the back of his father’s car because he wanted to go to work with him.

After graduating in 1943 from Brookline High and serving three years in the Army, he attended college in Cambridge. He married a girl he met in high school, Judith Goldman, and the pair were married for 56 years, until her death 11 years ago.

Back in the heyday of the shop, his wife kept the books. Stan said he continued to work with his father in the shop, with whom he had a very good relationship. His mother loved gardening and liked to put cut flowers in front of the shop.

Stan and Judith’s two daughters, Karen and Patty, served as “my chief dusters” in the shop when they were growing up. They live in New York now, and he has five granddaughters.

“We did a lucrative business,” Sacks said. The shop not only bought and sold to its customers, it sold to other antiques dealers. One of his more famous clients was heiress, preservationist and antiques collector Louise du Pont Crowninshield.

Furniture from the shop appeared in “Gone with the Wind” and “The Philadelphia Story.”

The shop used to be called the Marblehead Antique Exchange. About 30 years ago, with increasing competition in town among antiques dealers, other dealers were starting to play up the “Marblehead” name in their businesses.

“We changed the name to Sacks Antiques,” Stan said.

With the closing of his shop, Sacks plans to continue working with a few of his good customers.

In the end, he said, it’s not so much the antiques that were special, but the people he met and worked with.

“I like people,” he said.

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Kaminski Auctions has set the closing sale for Sacks Antiques, 38 State St., Marblehead, for Dec. 4 through Dec. 8, 10 to 5 p.m.

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Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at eforman@salemnews.com or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.