With decades of experience under their belts, Just Anthony and Woody Antiques are go-to shops for anyone looking for antiques, reproduction or vintage pieces. We find out how these two vintage furniture stores in Singapore keep a passion for business alive and remain so popular.
This is one of the truly well-loved vintage furniture stores in Singapore. It started in an attap house in Paya Lebar over 45 years ago by Anthony Lee. Just Anthony is today managed day to day by daughter Danielle. Her father still keeps an eye on the business though, dropping into the shop daily, keeping in contact with suppliers and sourcing older items.
In the antique and vintage store, you’ll find a huge range of furniture to discover across the stores 15,000 square feet. There are Chinese antiques, screens, ceramic stools and lamps, brightly coloured reproduction storage pieces and plenty of repurposed furniture (doors as dining tables, for example), meaning nothing goes to waste.
Danielle didn’t always know she was going to be part of the family business. “I used to help out here on Sundays during my college years. I studied marketing at the National University of Singapore (NUS), and my plan was to just sort out my resumé and get a job in marketing, but when my father asked me to join the family business I agreed to help.”
She developed her interest in Chinese antiques once she’d actually joined the company and began making sourcing trips to China. “I’ve always had an interest in interior design and décor, initially in more modern pieces. But finding pieces and seeing how people lived really helped bring everything to life for me, and my interest grew.”
What you’ll find
Just Anthony is also well known for its reproduction and repurposed furniture. The team began making these items over 20 years ago and the demand has grown and grown. “We’ve also been repurposing pieces for quite some time – it’s a great way to make use of something and not let it go to waste. Beautiful carvings made into coffee tables were initially very popular, and now we have a wide variety, including daybeds turned into coffee tables, and shutters into room dividers.”
Danielle’s interest in the provenance of pieces has helped build her passion for the job. But it’s the relationships she’s formed with customers over the years that really motivates her. “We have customers from over ten years ago who are no longer working in Singapore, but they come to visit us whenever they’re here. That is just so heart-warming.”
So how does she see the business progressing in the future? “There’s still a real interest in vintage and antique pieces, but also newer pieces that have antique parts incorporated. We are always looking for new ways to upcycle older components. We’re also focusing on putting our items online, and building on increasing the inventory in our e-commerce store.”
Local recommendations – Danielle Lee
“Not far from us are two popular eateries inside a kopitiam setting: Geylang Prawn Noodles and Katong Laksa. Those are great spots to have lunch at before visiting us! We’re also near NEX, a large shopping mall. There are lots of eateries there so you have many choices. Another option is Serangoon Gardens, which has hawker centres, coffee shops and cafés as well.”
Woody Antique House
The furniture carried by this 21-year-old antiques and vintage store in Singapore is sourced by husband-and-wife team Chris Ang and Wei Chin. Their store in Dempsey is a treasure trove of colour, texture, history and passion. They carry pieces sourced from China, Tibet, Malaysia, Myanmar, India, Indonesia and Thailand.
One of the Woody Antique’s strengths, says Chris, is their customisation process. This is a great option if you’re looking for something unique and interesting for your home. “Often our customers are inspired by something they may have seen, but it mightn’t be the right size, colour or finish they want. We work closely with them to design and make a truly one-off piece they can display proudly in their home. We also take repurposed and vintage furniture and give it a modern twist.”
Sourcing trips and the work-life balance
The couple’s love for the business stems from bringing in unique vintage furniture and artefacts from various parts of Asia for their customers. “We also love our sourcing trips. We learn about regional cultures, as well as the stories and history behind the pieces. Every trip is an enriching experience – one that cannot be gained from books or the internet.”
Working as a husband-and-wife team isn’t without its challenges, however. The pair admit they don’t always see eye to eye on work matters. Their solution is to sit down and list the pros and cons of their differing viewpoints and decide on the best way forward. “There’s a tendency for company matters to carry over after work when we’re at home. We try not to talk work at home unless it’s absolutely necessary, so we don’t affect our quality family time!”
At Woody’s, it’s not just antiques, reproduction and repurposed pieces. You’ll also find a range of outdoor furniture that’s a step away from the more common standard synthetic rattan wicker products. “Many of our customers are looking for metal- and powder-coated furniture, which is more modern, with clean lines. These designs are stylish and elegant – the frames and cushions add colour to your balcony or garden.”
More recently, Chris and Wei Chin have noticed a trend towards coloured pieces. “A few years ago, it was all black and white; now we’re finding our customers are requesting brighter, more daring colours,” says Wei Chin. These days, they are repainted in bright colours like red, blue, green, orange and white to blend with modern décor, and used for storage – of wine, for example, or even shoes.
Local recommendations – Chris Ang
“Dempsey is well known for its food and beverage offerings. Many of our customers go for a meal or drink after shopping at our showroom. I would personally recommend two places: for cake and dessert lovers, PS.Cafe is a good pick; while for those looking for a cosy place to have a meal with friends and family, Blu Kouzina serves great Mediterranean cuisine in a charming environment.”
This article first appeared in the July 2022 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe, so you never miss a copy!
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