Located on Rhode Island’s border with Massachusetts, Scott Davis and his wife Rae opened the Rhode Island Antiques Mall four and a half years ago in the former home of Jabour Electronics. Business has been booming ever since.
“This place is out of control,” Scott Davis told Cool Things of his prominent piece of Pawtucket property. “We haven’t felt even the faintest sign of the recession.”
Davis is eternally bullish on antiques as an investment, even in trying economic times. The fact that the Rhode Island Antiques Mall was able to rise even as the economy fell does not surprise Scott Davis.
“A few years ago, the cynics, skeptics and naysayers said we were crazy. They were sure that eBay was going to completely upend the antiques business,” he said.
Scott Davis knew he had to apply a big-box concept—the one-stop shopping experience consumers have come to demand—if they were to survive the challenging circumstances. Clean bathrooms, ample lighting and a cheerful atmosphere have gone a long way toward redefining antiquing in the Ocean State and throughout New England.
“We’re different than any antiques business I know of. A lot of these old stores are owned and staffed by zombies,” Davis joked. “Rae and I love antiques and our staff has a very high level of knowledge.”
Proudly rattling off some of the advanced degrees of his staff—“archeology, anthropology, fashion, fine arts, graphic arts”—Scott Davis clearly values their areas of expertise and familiarity with the more than 200 dealers, including actor James Woods, who rent portions of his 20,000 square-foot space.
As selective about dealers as they are about Rhode Island Antiques Mall staff, Scott and Rae Davis have built a community around the right place at the right time. “If we don’t like the way a dealer’s collection fits into the location, we don’t allow that dealer to rent space.”
He continued: “Our customers and dealers have shaped the Rhode Island Antiques Mall into the place they want it to be.”
Neither Scott nor Rae was unfamiliar with owning and operating a successful business before deciding to get seriously involved in antiques. “We owned a Quiznos franchise that did pretty well—it’s still open [on Newport Avenue in Pawtucket] so we must have done something right. But we eventually decided it was time to do something we really love.”
Scott and Rae Davis have been collecting and dealing antiques, according to Scott, “for about 28 years, our whole life together.”
The Rhode Island Antiques Mall has been profitable, according to Davis, “since day one,” he said. The one thing that might prevent the Davis family from replicating the Rhode Island Antiques Mall model nationally is what Scott Davis referred to as the “fatal flaw” of the antiques business.
“Things that sell well are also hard to find,” he said.
To learn more about the Rhode Island Antiques Mall, please visit www.riantiquesmall.com or head over to the store! Located at 345 Fountain Street in Pawtucket, it’s open seven days a week. Take it from Scott Davis: “You’ll find something you like.” When you find that something or, as is always the case when we go antiquing, somethings you like, you’re going to have to find a place to keep all that new (old) stuff. To learn more about Providence real estate, apartments and lofts available right now in a neighborhood near you, please visit www.therhodeguide.com.