Andy Anderson has always had “an eye for finding the value in things.”
As a schoolboy growing up in Rumson in the 1930s, he would bring home items that he found walking around town that would catch his eye.
“I didn’t want anything new; everything I collected, or wanted, was old,” said Anderson, 80, now of Highlands.
From furniture to paintings to lamps, Anderson was always hunting and gathering. His passion eventually turned into a career, and today he sells antiques and collectibles at , located at 487 Locust Point Road, just steps from the Art Deco-style Oceanic Bridge linking the neighborhood to Rumson.
The building, recognized by Middletown Township as a historical site, once housed the Locust General Store and the Locust Point Road Post Office and has not been significantly altered from its original state.
"Although the ZIP code is a Rumson address, the landmark is definitely a part of Middletown Township," said Mary Anne Kiernan, of the Middletown Township Landmarks Commission. The shop is also recognized as the oldest existing antique shop in Monmouth County.
The white building with pane glass windows faces out onto Locust Point Road. Recently it became festooned with a yellow banner noting its 50 years in business.
Long before he became the keeper of the historic shop, Anderson studied design at the McDowell School of Design in New York. He worked in the city under Sophie Gimbel, the celebrated Saks Fifth Avenue in-house designer.
Anderson designs were worn by Helen Keller and Lady Bird Johnson at her husband’s 1965 Presidential inauguration. Anderson says you can see the outfit on display at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
In 1962, Anderson said he saw that the storefront on Locust Avenue was empty and decided to turn his hobby into an occupation. He started off with four Hitchcock chairs.
“At that time, I had a salary to support my hobby and I decided 'Why not?'" Anderson said.
He visited auctions, returning to the store with his convertible packed to the brim. He became one of the original dealers at the Red Bank Antiques Center in 1964.
“Dealers are the best customers and dealers deal to dealers — but a dealer will never reveal their source,” Anderson said.
Anderson continued to work with Sophie’s Originals until the label halted production in 1969. Anderson’s mother, Thelma, decided to come and run the shop while her son was at work.
“She would tell me nobody comes in during the morning, so I told her 'Why not open in the afternoon?'” Anderson said. “That’s how we got our hours.”
Anderson noted that locals say the “shop is never open” but contrary to their belief, Locust Antiques is open Tuesday through Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m., with little white signs indicating the shop’s hours tucked on the left-hand side of the door and in the shop’s front window.
“Turning old things new again” with his selective touch and fashionable taste, the former designer fills the shop with what he calls an eclectic variety of merchandise.
Oil paintings ranging from 10 to hundreds of dollars, fur coats, bed headboards, lamps, buffet servers and tables fill the two-room shop ranging with some items dated more than 70 years back.
“You never know who's going to come in here,” Anderson said. “And you’ll never know what they want. Unless, of course, you know them.”