Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Kahler • Payne Antiques

Kahler • Payne
Offering Antiques in Hillcrest for 21 Years

There's a great little house at 700 Van Buren. It was once a grocery store, then a series of hair salons. It's where Sylvia Payne had her hair done for senior prom. It's also the location of Kahler • Payne, the antique shop owned by Ms. Payne and her sister, Sandra Kahler.

Sylvia was living in Baton Rogue when she decided she could go home again, because she had the promise of a little antique shop waiting for her. Now she's operated her antique business for 21 years in Hillcrest - three blocks from the house she grew up in on Polk Street.

It's a great shop chock full of furniture, crystal, china, silver and lots of lamps, including one made from an old bird cage. It offers "everyday antiques and flair."

"We consider our antiques for everyday use. They are not museum pieces. Most of our stuff is American made and ready to use, refinished, clean ... you sit on it and use it," Sylvia said.

The "flair" offerings include switch plates, soaps, jewelry, tote bags and The Pickle Sisters gourmet foods.

"They are things that add a little flair to your life and useful gift items. With our gifts, we try to be responsible and make sure they are good for the environment, and if foreign made, make sure they are fair trade or cottage industry. We try to be socially responsible with our gifts."

Sylvia got interested in antiques when she was living in Louisiana.

"When I was living in Baton Rogue, I had a small antique shop. I had a neighbor who wanted to start an antique business. I kind of did it as a hobby and found out I absolutely loved it. It's the thrill of the hunt. We didn't have a lot of customers, but we had an awful lot of fun."

But Sylvia wanted to return home to Hillcrest. When she and her sister found they could buy an antique shop there, that settled it.

"Having an antique shop to come home to made it easier. That was something to look forward to. There was a little shop on Polk called Potential Treasures, so Sandy and I bought that business (in 1989). It was a tiny shop, and we were only open on weekends. It was obvious the place was too small. No one knew where we were. We knew where it was. We grew up on Polk Street.

"We started looking for a place in Hillcrest on the main drag. We settled for this location, and it turned out way better. We were on Polk for only a year. This (building at 700 Van Buren) was originally built as McCormick's Grocery Store. In the early '60s, it became a beauty shop. It was a beauty shop when we bought it, and - 'small world' - I had my hair done here for the senior prom. I grew up on Polk Street, and now I'm three blocks up with a business."

The shop buys furniture locally and takes pieces on consignment.

"A lot of it is word of mouth. Most of our things come right out of owners' homes. It's all local. We don't do buying trips."

People with items to sell or consign often e-mail Sylvia photos, "a nice bit of progress" she said makes buying easier.

"When we first started in business, Sandra had two toddlers, and we couldn't travel."

But she prefers buying locally. "It keeps the costs down; there are no shipping expenses."

The most expensive piece in the shop is a pine cabinet custom made in Connecticut. The price is $2,300. There are only three items in the shop that cost more than $1,000. Most of the furniture is in the $200 to $600 range.

Items in the flair line run from $1 (mini soaps) to $45 (Swarovski crystal earrings).

What's the most interesting item in the shop? "A 1950s retro coffee table that raises to dining height. It's really clever."

The most fun? "Refillable glass tap water bottles from Canada."

Sylvia's niece, Laura Kahler, is in charge of the flair line, which was created to entice 20-somethings into the shop.

Sylvia describes Kahler • Payne as a family business (in addition to her sister and niece, her nephew, Jason Kahler, makes the deliveries) and she works to make it a fun, casual place to shop.

"We have a pretty casual attitude."

She invites you to come by and look around or just chat and meet her shop dog, Willa, a Cardigan Welsh corgi. You may call her at 663-0608 or visit kahlerpayne.com.

(This story was written by Bobbi Nesbitt and ran in the June 2010 edition of Shoppe Talk.)

Sylvia Payne Profile

Sylvia Payne
Tell us about your family. I have two sisters, Sandra, and Susan Maddox, who owns the Rosemont, a bed and breakfast downtown in the historic Governor's Mansion district. Mother and Daddy are both gone. My mother had alzheimer's, and I took care of her for 11 years. We all live in town, except for one niece who lives in Austin. We spend a lot of time together. My best friend is my niece, Laura. Sandra is a nurse and teaches nursing at Baptist School of Nursing. She does a lot of the buying.

What do you like to read? I like to read what I call "cozy mysteries," like Agatha Christie. I want a body in the pantry and then you just solve the crime.

What is your favorite Little Rock restaurant? Cheers.

Your favorite food? Unfortunately, hamburgers.

What's your favorite movie? Out of Africa. Laura and I can do dialogue from that movie.

Do have favorite actors? Russell Crowe.

What do you do in your spare time? I like to read and I like to work in my garden and putz around in my house.

What do you watch on the tube? Old movies and forensic detective shows like Bones and NCIS and old recorded shows of Moonlight with Mick St. John.

Do you support any charities? Yes. Arkansas Hospice.

If you could have a dream dinner party and invite any three people, who would you choose? My mother and Daddy. That would be enough for me.

Is there anything you'd like to see Little Rock do differently? Yes. I would like them to value their old neighborhoods more - like Hillcrest and Capitol View - and spend money there instead of on expansion out west. Alleys need to be cleaned up and used and our sidewalks maintained. That gets people out walking. When people are out walking, it cuts down on crime.