Real estate partners Rob Golden and Rick Dickson hope their new antique shop will help breathe life into downtown Fairfax on the weekends.
Hollie-Rob opened last month on Main Street next to Factory T-Shirts. It offers a variety of items, 20th century furniture, 17th century merchandise, sterling, rugs, art, restoration services, pet paintings and more.
The store features a friendly, relaxed atmosphere for antique hunters as well as a space for amateur artists. This isn't a dusty shop crammed with old, unwanted belongings; the antiques are laid out as customers would place them in their own homes. Anyone is welcome to walk inside, sit on one of the couches and strike up a conversation with the store owners, they say.
"The people who come in the door are friends. They pass the word along," said Golden. "Building business is about building relationships."
Golden isn't a stranger to the setting: he was working at an ARHAUS furniture store in Fairfax Corner when he met Dickson in 2003.
"Rick was my first customer," Golden said. "He came just about every day, so I knew him in a week."
Four years later, Dickson invited Golden to join him in leasing Old Town Fairfax properties for the Dickson Company. Now Dickson and Golden are starting a new business venture they hope will bring a friendly, community vibe to downtown Fairfax City.
"It was the right time to do this," Golden said. "We had an empty storefront" and an attic full of antiques that needed to be moved to a new location, he said.
Dickson admits his penchant for collecting antiques is more of an addiction. And it runs in his family: Dickson's mother managed Nick's Attic antique shop in downtown Fairfax back in 1961.
"Anyone who collects things, anything from coins to porcelain dolls, knows it's an addiction," he said.
The antique shop is something of a vacation away from property management for the pair.
"It's a great departure from the real estate office," Golden said. "In real estate you usually have longer sales. It can take a year. In antiques things move faster, and you never know what to expect."
They were surprised, for example, when a George Mason University student spent an hour looking through a 1965 Webster Dictionary because of how it was bound.
The new store will also regularly welcome art students at the Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington, D.C. The shop features a new solo student artist on a bi-weekly basis as another way of building community culture and bringing younger folks downtown.
"If [the artists] are going to survive, they need to learn how to market their work," Golden said. "They market it through social media, we help a little. They lay it all out since they're the artists with the visions."
Business has been slow so far, the pair said, but they hope word of mouth and weekly events, like the new flea market they now host in their parking lot every Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., will get more people downtown on the weekends.
"We didn't get into this to fail. There is business in downtown," Golden said.
Click here to become a fan of Hollie-Rob on Facebook.