Ok, so it’s not always easy to remain impartial when dealing with certain people in town. For many different reasons some folk are truly more special to us than others. I really like Gale. Even when we talk about something that makes her sad she’s still happy. She’s one of our town’s smartest working, happiest, and most positive ladies I know.
That and the fact that she has an extraordinary shop of upscale furniture and furnishing makes Melrose a valuable asset to downtown Orange.
The name Melrose? “When we first opened in Orange our store was located in the back of our home; Melrose. Then, when we moved everything here in 2000 we kept the name.” The “we” Gale refers to is she and late husband Joe Danos. Joe was an astute, no-nonsense businessman who in his later years was rapidly becoming one of the state’s leading brokers of antique decoys.
“Most of our pieces are of investment-quality. They’re eighteenth or nineteenth century pieces and of rare condition and availability,” Gale was explaining. “The Kindel
The original Kindel Hepplewhite Sideboard is now in a museum. Hepplewhite Sideboard is a good example. Made of mahogany with intricate satinwood inlays the original is owned by the DuPont family and is priceless as it is in Winterthur Museum. While this one is a reproduction dating back to the 1940’s it remains a higher-end piece of furniture.”
I had heard that Gale was known as an expert on oriental rugs and asked her about that. “Most of my rugs are well over eighty years old. I got started by working for a rug dealer while I was in college. Ended up that I loved oriental rugs and was getting more comfortable with the trade. In 1989 I started my own little business in Woodbury, Connecticut, with maybe had 15 or 18 rugs. I met Joe in 1994 when he opened his Antique Shop next to my Rug store and we married in 2000 same year we moved to Orange.
“There’s been a certain pattern in who my customers are,” said Gale. “I’m not seeing a younger crowd, the younger generation hasn’t yet come to appreciate fine furniture and antiques but I suspect will soon. Most of the customers here are from out-of-town, they happen to be driving through and stop in or they’ve heard about Melrose from friends and referrals. Of course, most of the purchases are from my website which is constantly being maintained and updated.”
“It’s also interesting to note that shoppers today are looking for rugs and furniture that complement each other: a nice rug that will accent a sideboard or table for instance. It used to be that a rug or piece of furniture was purchased for itself but now my buyers are matching pieces for a more coordinated look.”
On her business ethic: “It’s impossible not to have both posted hours and available hours. By available I mean being open when people are
available to shop: after work-hours and weekends. And you can’t just be here. I’m always cleaning, changing windows, organizing and rearranging. Not just sitting here waiting for the next person to walk through the door.”
Have you had any pleasant surprises in all these years of selling antiques and rugs, I asked Gale.
She laughed and pointed out a beautiful grandfather clock. “When we found this at an auction it wasn’t working. But we liked that is was an early 19th century clock made of German clock-workings inside a fine handcrafted English case. When we took it to a clock smith for repairs we were informed that the clock dated back to the mid-1700’s. Much older than we thought when buying it.”
Feel welcome to browse the store and say hello to Gale. She doesn’t hover or try to sell you anything but allows you a comfortable visit at your leisure. If you need help, just yell, she’ll be there. Goodness knows she hasn’t tried to sell me that old primitive hutch that I love so much sitting way in the back of her shop.
Melrose Antiques and Interiors
101 E. Main Street, Orange, VA 22960