Laster’s Fine Art & Antiques, Down the St and Back In Time
By Ray Morgan
On a recent Friday morning, I stopped by and spent a pleasant hour talking with Larry and Ryan Laster, father and son owners of Laster’s Fine Art & Antiques. Regular visitors know they will find a wide collection of fine art, antiques and unusual items, all mixed with a healthy dose of humor!
I asked Larry if he bought items or worked on consignment and learned he does both. Consignment represents about 30% of his business, however, for items of a higher caliber, in construction and presentation, he is willing to buy them outright.
Larry has a keen eye for original, eye-catching items he knows others will want to take home. “We’re not looking for standard items, we are looking for things that stand out. Most of the people who come in here have the common things but they want something that really makes a statement. So that’s what we’re always looking for, those pieces that will make a room.”
“We depend on people downsizing because our inventory tends to come from estates. They look to us to find a home for items which have been cherished by a particular family, sometimes for generations.”
“We’re a hometown firm, been in business 43 years, 8 years in this gallery. We try to find things that will go back out the door and make people happy. We offer a free assessment as a public service. Most every dealer charges for the appraisal. For years I billed for appraisals, but over the last few years I decided not to be a part of that anymore because it seemed as though it was gouging people to charge them what we had to charge. So we determined doing a public service assessment would be fairer and certainly open the door for more people to use us.”
He had one client who brought in a piece of artwork after he spotted the sign while on his way to Goodwill, but decided to get a professional opinion first. Larry and Ryan researched the artist and what prices his work had fetched. Turns out, it was remarkably valuable! Because he is always careful with a family’s personal information, Larry didn’t want to disclose anything further but added it is better to bring it by and be certain!
He told of another client who brought in a pastel from WWI but didn’t protect it and ended up smudging the entire piece. The value went from $45,000 to $0 in the space it took for the client to walk in from the parking lot!
When asked what the future of the antiques industry looks like to him, Larry lit up. “I think things will be getting better because of the amount of stuff coming on the market will increase. The young people who have been shunning ‘brown furniture’ overall will realize that the goods available to them, that they seem to be interested in, is going to fall apart in 3-5 years. And then they’ll be looking for things that are more substantial, in solid woods and original works of art instead of signed, limited edition prints.”
Larry is particularly proud of the feedback he gets from customers. “We’ve been told by so many clients, there is no place else like Laster’s. In fact, we’ve been told there’s no place like us between here and D.C. Even folks from Williamsburg say they don’t know anyplace like us. And that’s a compliment! We feel what we are providing is a particular niche you may not see every day. And we get complimented virtually every day on the quality of our goods and the amount of things we have to offer.”
If you love antiques, and learning the history behind them, make your way to 664 S. Stratford Rd. or visit www.LastersFineArt.com. Larry’s final piece of advice – “If you see something in our store and fall in love with it, get it now, because it’s likely not going to be here when you come back!”