Anne Martin has always had a love of “anything Italian” and her path to owning and running Takapuna-based store Founders of Rome has followed a path through importing Italian statuary, to running a guest lodge and vineyard with an associated Italian restaurant in Karaka.
“New love” brought her from Karaka to the Shore, where she renovated the old Takapuna North Post Office. With one thing leading to another, she then opened Founders of Rome in the Post Office’s “beautiful old mail sorting room”.
Founders of Rome is most accurately described as an antique store, but is a far cry from the dark, dusty antique shops of the past. Here, in the light-filled spaces, carefully curated Italian and French antique furniture sits elegantly alongside urns, candelabras, mirrors and small statues, with sets of silver cake forks, crystal glassware and highly prized French pottery adding to the impression. In another room, brightly-coloured tablecloths, cushions and sets of copper pots and cookware are displayed on more of Anne’s personally selected furniture.
“I’m loving it,” says Anne enthusiastically of her new business and lifestyle. “And local people are loving it and responding in kind.”
Not everyone is buying large furniture items; many select gifts for friends or relatives: china, silverware or glassware. “I started off in furniture,” she confesses, “but I couldn’t resist [the smaller items], so it’s a gift shop as well."
She says people are delighted when they call in and discover what’s inside. Better still, they often discover that perfect item or accessory – that they never knew they wanted until they saw it. “People love the sense of history. And the prices are reasonable, as I buy well and sell well.”
Anne’s buying trips to Europe are, she says, “fast and furious”, with her buying centred around auctions and antique fairs. She mostly buys antiques, though the French tea towels and Italian tablecloths are new. “They all have a sense of style you only get from Europe,” she says. “It’s a treasure trove of European furniture, lights, mirrors and more.”
Many people, she says, know how they’d like a room to look but are unsure how to achieve it. She can assist customers with room styling, and does a lot of personal shopping, hunting for specific items to complement the customer’s chosen décor, or to fill a special request.
“Antiques are living pieces of history and if you buy them you are more invested in what you have in your home than if you just walk into a retail store,” she says. “You don’t need to leave the Shore to get what you want, whether it’s Christmas gift shopping or a room renovation.”
Founders of Rome, 1 Earnoch Avenue, Takapuna 027 477 7155 www.foundersofrome.co.nz
Open Wed-Sun 10am-5pm or by arrangement.