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In Conversation With Tom White, White’s Antique Collective

Antiques News & Fairs - In Conversation With Tom White, White’s Antique Collective

 

In Conversation with Tom White, White’s Antique Collective

We are delighted to talk to Tom White who has successfully crossed the border between the role of expert artisan restorer and paint finish wizard, to not only join a band of celebrated decorative dealers at The Vinery just outside Arundel, but to be the founder of this exciting new White's Antique Collective.

 

ANF - You are known in the antiques trade as an artisan restorer and maker, with a particular skill in paint finishes, but have recently broken cover to open a brand new antiques collective, White’s Antique Collective, at the antiques hub at The Vinery in Sussex. This is quite a big leap so tell us how this came about?

TW - As well as restoring antiques for the trade and public I had been buying and selling pieces over the last 10 years or so on the side as a bit of a side project/passion all from the back of my workshop on the Vinery. As demand grew for the pieces of furniture I was restoring and painting I could see I was going to need a bigger showroom and perhaps a place not hidden in the back of our workshops. An opportunity had opened up where I could sign up for a 3000sqft warehouse right next door to our current workshop and the opportunity was too good to let go!

Antiques News & Fairs - In Conversation With Tom White, White’s Antique Collective

Now with 3000 square feet to play with it got me really thinking on how to put it to best use. I’d been part of selling spaces and seen how others had set about managing antique centres etc, somethings I liked, others not so much - I loved the idea of a collective of carefully chosen dealers who I could invite to be part of my vision of what a collective could be under one roof, and so it came to be - White’s Antiques Collective.

I wanted the White’s Antiques Collective to be a gallery style showroom (which suits the building type) Our showroom is bright, light and spacious only using 3 colours through out, white, grey and black. The stock on show can add all the extra colour that is needed.  

I didn’t want the showroom to feel closed in so kept everything as open plan as possible, resisting the temptation to build physical walls between the dealers bays...I wanted the customers eyes to bounce around the room as they entered!

We added a photo bay, large comfortable office for entertaining clients and storage for sold goods etc.

That is the starting vision of what the business is to look like. What excites me is how it can run! I’m a people person, the pandemic taught a lot of us a lot of things in business in recent times. It taught me that, as much as I do like internet, online and social media shopping, nothing beats the honesty of meeting people and seeing the beautiful stock we offer in the flesh, and getting a feel for what the clients are looking for in their interiors and projects. Now with the principle business idea in place I had to carefully choose the right people and businesses to invite into this new venture....fortunately everyone said yes!

Antiques News & Fairs - In Conversation With Tom White, White’s Antique Collective

ANF - The group of dealers in the Collective each have their own look but the overall look is very cohesive. Did you plan this or was it an organic process?

TW - I gave a lot of solid thought to the people who I’d like to join me in the Collective. I chose to invite people I had been working with professionally and knew on a personal level also. I knew them and their stock well, and if they agreed to join me I was confident where I’d like to place them in our showroom.

I wanted to add different looks at different price points so that we could open ourselves out to potential interior decorators, our overseas buyers looking to fill containers or the private clients who are looking for that individual piece to complete their home.

So with all this in place we finally opened our doors on the 6th of February 2023 and welcomed our first members of the collective:

La Place Antiques
Anthony Wilkinson Antiques
White’s Antiques
Marchand Antiques
Michael Bell Antiques

After the first few months of business and people coming to look at our new show space we were having to start a waiting list for dealers wanting to join our collective...so in April we decided to start our first extension and reduced our storage to allow two more dealers to join the collective:

Glen Parke Antiques
Antique and Decrorative

This completes our current list of members of The White’s Antiques Collective...our waiting list for businesses wanting to join our collective continues to grow.

Antiques News & Fairs - In Conversation With Tom White, White’s Antique Collective

ANF - Now that White’s is on the map and looking fabulous, are there any plans for expansion?

TW - As the list of antiques businesses wanting to join us grows we are keen to match that demand. In return it helps us to offer even more to our growing client base. I believe our foundations are strong and if we continue to choose the right businesses to join our collective we can only go from strength to strength.

As time goes on we will continually assess if more units on the Vinery become available. We are ambitious and the scale ability of what we have started is exciting- we don’t want to run before we can walk, but I’m dreaming big for all involved!

ANF - You are a second generation member of the family restoration business still working alongside your father. Tell us something about the history of the company which your father founded in the 80s?

TW - Riverside Restorations- a good honest business built on honest values! Started in the late 80’s by my father (Christopher White) and my mother (Trish White). My father was trained from college as a master craftsman in woodwork and cabinet making- honestly his list of talents are endless- carpentry, joinery, veneering, wood turning, wood carving, French polishing, modern polish finishes, upholstery, leather lining...honestly I could go on!

He worked as a manager at a big high end reproduction furniture company during the 70’s and early 80’s. This is where he met my mother who worked in the furniture sales department (she’s now on my sales team at The Collective) she’s like a walking encyclopaedia of furniture, still adding to her knowledge base on a daily basis. She’s particularly good with Roman and Greek sculptures also. Feeling unfulfilled by the role of management and not being as hands on as he used to be, my father decided to turn his hand to what he really loved....antique furniture restoration.

This “hobby” (now paid hobby as he calls it) led to him calling it a day with the comfortable job he had and to start a new venture with his wife at his side to open a small little workshop, in Arundel on the bank of the riverside, and Riverside Restorations was born! Business picked up fast as his reputation grew throughout the antique trade. This was the workshop I remember being in and around from the age of 5 years old or so...

Antiques News & Fairs - In Conversation With Tom White, White’s Antique Collective

ANF -  Did you know from childhood that you would join the family firm or did you have other ideas?

TW - I’d been in and out of the workshops and surrounded by antiques all my childhood. Once I was around 11 or so I would work weekends for a bit of pocket money, minor jobs- at first and slowly taught more as time went on. I did this the whole way through school and at 16 i’d planned to go to college to take a more academic route but after my GCSEs were over I worked the summer full time at Riverside Restorations saving for my first car....I loved that summer! The work, the variety of jobs, the rewarding feeling of a before and after success and the reaction you’d get from a client when you’d transformed one of their family heirlooms into its former glory, as they remembered it from years past...that was worth more than any wage knowing you could have the ability to do that!

I loved that summer so much that I’d missed my first week of college and not realised. After a stern phone call from the head of the college about this absent week I decided I’d put my place back a year and have a year in the workshop.....that was 22years ago. I never did go back to college I learnt traditional restoration for the first five years and got the grasp of colours early.

Soon I was working on pieces from Sweden etc I loved the colours and textures and spent hours in my spare time colour matching the colours and textures on other furniture. I couldn’t believe people wanted to buy these test pieces at first but it gave me the drive to keep doing it over and over. I moved to working with decorative antiques and left my father to handle the traditional side of the restoration business. It’s been a great working team offering all aspects of restoration to our clients.

Antiques News & Fairs - In Conversation With Tom White, White’s Antique Collective

ANF Working in the antiques restoration business gives you a bird’s eye view of the state of the antiques trade – what is your opinion currently and how do you think Brexit has affected the trade particularly the US trade?

TW - First things first- I try to stay positive about this wonderful trade we are in! It’s all too easy to moan and groan...that being said, Brexit hasn’t been a wonderful thing for our trade! Ive noticed that a growing number of overseas clients (especially USA) will sometimes skip the UK now and go straight to France and other EU destinations on their buying trips. At one point they could use our realiable UK shippers to bring their European purchases to the UK and ship all their purchases from here. Now faced with additional paperwork and taxes it is less appealing for them and shipping from the EU to America etc makes more sense.

On a positive note, we have a rich history of antiques and furniture designs from our traditional to the more country and vernacular pieces available in the uk that you simply will not find readily in the rest of Europe. We need to play to our strengths on what we do offer and do that well. Excellent products at good value in showroom condition and honesty and clarity in what we do!

Antiques News & Fairs - In Conversation With Tom White, White’s Antique Collective

ANF - Working alongside so many respected dealers from around the UK must give you an insight into trends and styles that come and go – they say the antiques trade is a fashion business after all! What do you think the current hot tickets are?

TW - Well that’s the hardest question of the day! One the best things about opening up the collective and having the other dealers in with me is that what’s hot one month is a slow burner the next! The form book is out the window. What I have found more of late is people trying to buy with a more targeted purpose. The proportions of the pieces are more critical and functionality in full question. If people are becoming more minimalist in their houses then the pieces they do have will need to justify their space in the rooms.

ANF - Do you take time out to visit the key antiques and design fairs like The Decorative Fair and the LAPADA Berkeley Square in London, to keep your knowledge up to date and to see some of your work on display?

TW - I do love to look around the design fairs! I must admit I haven’t been for many years to Battersea as I’m always so busy with getting pieces ready for the show for my clients which do attend. But it is the one place that always captures your imagination. I’ve never been disappointed going to Battersea and always leave inspired with colours and designs in my head to take on to future projects. I went to the last Henley fair for the first time this year, although the weather could have been kinder at times, I thought it was a great fair with lots to offer.

It’s always interesting to see the pieces I’ve worked on at Battersea etc, it’s great to see how the dealers dress them up and what pieces they suit them with- they always look so different to when I’ve seen them on my workshop floor. 

Antiques News & Fairs - In Conversation With Tom White, White’s Antique Collective

ANF - Do you enjoy being part of the wider community at The Vinery antiques hub? What do you think are the advantages of working
within a community of like minded people?

TW - I’ve been at the Vinery for 18 years now. There weren’t any antique guys on site when we first arrived, it’s by chance that it’s attracted like minded businesses over the years. And I’m so glad that they have all joined the Vinery over that time! For some it may seem that we could easily be competitive with one another all being in one place, but in reality it a great little community we have. As a site the Vinery offers so much for the antique traders and antique buying enthusiasts. I think of it like this, if someone has travelled a long way to come to the Vinery and they are unfortunate to not find what they required from us, then hopefully they found it from someone else at the Vinery! That way there’s a reason for them to come again regularly as next time we might just have their next favourite ever purchase!

ANF - With a packed working life, do you manage to take time off and how do you relax away from the job?

TW - For those who know me well, will know that I live my work!

I throw a good 60 hrs a week into what I do Monday-Saturday. As my old man says “it’s a paid hobby” But outside of Im a family man. I’ve got my wife Calley and my two children Abigail and Lenny.

Sundays are family days, I live in Worthing and being a coastal town I’m always drawn to the sea. On nice Sundays it’s days down the beach and walks along coast or bike rides for the little ones, on those not so pleasant days then it’s down the café for family breakfasts or lazy days indoors with games and movies. They’re my everything, they’re what the 60hrs a week at work are for...the love of antiques and restoration definitely helps though.

 



Antiques News Blog

In Conversation With Tom White, White’s Antique Collective

Antiques News & Fairs - In Conversation With Tom White, White’s Antique Collective

 

In Conversation with Tom White, White’s Antique Collective

We are delighted to talk to Tom White who has successfully crossed the border between the role of expert artisan restorer and paint finish wizard, to not only join a band of celebrated decorative dealers at The Vinery just outside Arundel, but to be the founder of this exciting new White's Antique Collective.

 

ANF - You are known in the antiques trade as an artisan restorer and maker, with a particular skill in paint finishes, but have recently broken cover to open a brand new antiques collective, White’s Antique Collective, at the antiques hub at The Vinery in Sussex. This is quite a big leap so tell us how this came about?

TW - As well as restoring antiques for the trade and public I had been buying and selling pieces over the last 10 years or so on the side as a bit of a side project/passion all from the back of my workshop on the Vinery. As demand grew for the pieces of furniture I was restoring and painting I could see I was going to need a bigger showroom and perhaps a place not hidden in the back of our workshops. An opportunity had opened up where I could sign up for a 3000sqft warehouse right next door to our current workshop and the opportunity was too good to let go!

Antiques News & Fairs - In Conversation With Tom White, White’s Antique Collective

Now with 3000 square feet to play with it got me really thinking on how to put it to best use. I’d been part of selling spaces and seen how others had set about managing antique centres etc, somethings I liked, others not so much - I loved the idea of a collective of carefully chosen dealers who I could invite to be part of my vision of what a collective could be under one roof, and so it came to be - White’s Antiques Collective.

I wanted the White’s Antiques Collective to be a gallery style showroom (which suits the building type) Our showroom is bright, light and spacious only using 3 colours through out, white, grey and black. The stock on show can add all the extra colour that is needed.  

I didn’t want the showroom to feel closed in so kept everything as open plan as possible, resisting the temptation to build physical walls between the dealers bays...I wanted the customers eyes to bounce around the room as they entered!

We added a photo bay, large comfortable office for entertaining clients and storage for sold goods etc.

That is the starting vision of what the business is to look like. What excites me is how it can run! I’m a people person, the pandemic taught a lot of us a lot of things in business in recent times. It taught me that, as much as I do like internet, online and social media shopping, nothing beats the honesty of meeting people and seeing the beautiful stock we offer in the flesh, and getting a feel for what the clients are looking for in their interiors and projects. Now with the principle business idea in place I had to carefully choose the right people and businesses to invite into this new venture....fortunately everyone said yes!

Antiques News & Fairs - In Conversation With Tom White, White’s Antique Collective

ANF - The group of dealers in the Collective each have their own look but the overall look is very cohesive. Did you plan this or was it an organic process?

TW - I gave a lot of solid thought to the people who I’d like to join me in the Collective. I chose to invite people I had been working with professionally and knew on a personal level also. I knew them and their stock well, and if they agreed to join me I was confident where I’d like to place them in our showroom.

I wanted to add different looks at different price points so that we could open ourselves out to potential interior decorators, our overseas buyers looking to fill containers or the private clients who are looking for that individual piece to complete their home.

So with all this in place we finally opened our doors on the 6th of February 2023 and welcomed our first members of the collective:

La Place Antiques
Anthony Wilkinson Antiques
White’s Antiques
Marchand Antiques
Michael Bell Antiques

After the first few months of business and people coming to look at our new show space we were having to start a waiting list for dealers wanting to join our collective...so in April we decided to start our first extension and reduced our storage to allow two more dealers to join the collective:

Glen Parke Antiques
Antique and Decrorative

This completes our current list of members of The White’s Antiques Collective...our waiting list for businesses wanting to join our collective continues to grow.

Antiques News & Fairs - In Conversation With Tom White, White’s Antique Collective

ANF - Now that White’s is on the map and looking fabulous, are there any plans for expansion?

TW - As the list of antiques businesses wanting to join us grows we are keen to match that demand. In return it helps us to offer even more to our growing client base. I believe our foundations are strong and if we continue to choose the right businesses to join our collective we can only go from strength to strength.

As time goes on we will continually assess if more units on the Vinery become available. We are ambitious and the scale ability of what we have started is exciting- we don’t want to run before we can walk, but I’m dreaming big for all involved!

ANF - You are a second generation member of the family restoration business still working alongside your father. Tell us something about the history of the company which your father founded in the 80s?

TW - Riverside Restorations- a good honest business built on honest values! Started in the late 80’s by my father (Christopher White) and my mother (Trish White). My father was trained from college as a master craftsman in woodwork and cabinet making- honestly his list of talents are endless- carpentry, joinery, veneering, wood turning, wood carving, French polishing, modern polish finishes, upholstery, leather lining...honestly I could go on!

He worked as a manager at a big high end reproduction furniture company during the 70’s and early 80’s. This is where he met my mother who worked in the furniture sales department (she’s now on my sales team at The Collective) she’s like a walking encyclopaedia of furniture, still adding to her knowledge base on a daily basis. She’s particularly good with Roman and Greek sculptures also. Feeling unfulfilled by the role of management and not being as hands on as he used to be, my father decided to turn his hand to what he really loved....antique furniture restoration.

This “hobby” (now paid hobby as he calls it) led to him calling it a day with the comfortable job he had and to start a new venture with his wife at his side to open a small little workshop, in Arundel on the bank of the riverside, and Riverside Restorations was born! Business picked up fast as his reputation grew throughout the antique trade. This was the workshop I remember being in and around from the age of 5 years old or so...

Antiques News & Fairs - In Conversation With Tom White, White’s Antique Collective

ANF -  Did you know from childhood that you would join the family firm or did you have other ideas?

TW - I’d been in and out of the workshops and surrounded by antiques all my childhood. Once I was around 11 or so I would work weekends for a bit of pocket money, minor jobs- at first and slowly taught more as time went on. I did this the whole way through school and at 16 i’d planned to go to college to take a more academic route but after my GCSEs were over I worked the summer full time at Riverside Restorations saving for my first car....I loved that summer! The work, the variety of jobs, the rewarding feeling of a before and after success and the reaction you’d get from a client when you’d transformed one of their family heirlooms into its former glory, as they remembered it from years past...that was worth more than any wage knowing you could have the ability to do that!

I loved that summer so much that I’d missed my first week of college and not realised. After a stern phone call from the head of the college about this absent week I decided I’d put my place back a year and have a year in the workshop.....that was 22years ago. I never did go back to college I learnt traditional restoration for the first five years and got the grasp of colours early.

Soon I was working on pieces from Sweden etc I loved the colours and textures and spent hours in my spare time colour matching the colours and textures on other furniture. I couldn’t believe people wanted to buy these test pieces at first but it gave me the drive to keep doing it over and over. I moved to working with decorative antiques and left my father to handle the traditional side of the restoration business. It’s been a great working team offering all aspects of restoration to our clients.

Antiques News & Fairs - In Conversation With Tom White, White’s Antique Collective

ANF Working in the antiques restoration business gives you a bird’s eye view of the state of the antiques trade – what is your opinion currently and how do you think Brexit has affected the trade particularly the US trade?

TW - First things first- I try to stay positive about this wonderful trade we are in! It’s all too easy to moan and groan...that being said, Brexit hasn’t been a wonderful thing for our trade! Ive noticed that a growing number of overseas clients (especially USA) will sometimes skip the UK now and go straight to France and other EU destinations on their buying trips. At one point they could use our realiable UK shippers to bring their European purchases to the UK and ship all their purchases from here. Now faced with additional paperwork and taxes it is less appealing for them and shipping from the EU to America etc makes more sense.

On a positive note, we have a rich history of antiques and furniture designs from our traditional to the more country and vernacular pieces available in the uk that you simply will not find readily in the rest of Europe. We need to play to our strengths on what we do offer and do that well. Excellent products at good value in showroom condition and honesty and clarity in what we do!

Antiques News & Fairs - In Conversation With Tom White, White’s Antique Collective

ANF - Working alongside so many respected dealers from around the UK must give you an insight into trends and styles that come and go – they say the antiques trade is a fashion business after all! What do you think the current hot tickets are?

TW - Well that’s the hardest question of the day! One the best things about opening up the collective and having the other dealers in with me is that what’s hot one month is a slow burner the next! The form book is out the window. What I have found more of late is people trying to buy with a more targeted purpose. The proportions of the pieces are more critical and functionality in full question. If people are becoming more minimalist in their houses then the pieces they do have will need to justify their space in the rooms.

ANF - Do you take time out to visit the key antiques and design fairs like The Decorative Fair and the LAPADA Berkeley Square in London, to keep your knowledge up to date and to see some of your work on display?

TW - I do love to look around the design fairs! I must admit I haven’t been for many years to Battersea as I’m always so busy with getting pieces ready for the show for my clients which do attend. But it is the one place that always captures your imagination. I’ve never been disappointed going to Battersea and always leave inspired with colours and designs in my head to take on to future projects. I went to the last Henley fair for the first time this year, although the weather could have been kinder at times, I thought it was a great fair with lots to offer.

It’s always interesting to see the pieces I’ve worked on at Battersea etc, it’s great to see how the dealers dress them up and what pieces they suit them with- they always look so different to when I’ve seen them on my workshop floor. 

Antiques News & Fairs - In Conversation With Tom White, White’s Antique Collective

ANF - Do you enjoy being part of the wider community at The Vinery antiques hub? What do you think are the advantages of working
within a community of like minded people?

TW - I’ve been at the Vinery for 18 years now. There weren’t any antique guys on site when we first arrived, it’s by chance that it’s attracted like minded businesses over the years. And I’m so glad that they have all joined the Vinery over that time! For some it may seem that we could easily be competitive with one another all being in one place, but in reality it a great little community we have. As a site the Vinery offers so much for the antique traders and antique buying enthusiasts. I think of it like this, if someone has travelled a long way to come to the Vinery and they are unfortunate to not find what they required from us, then hopefully they found it from someone else at the Vinery! That way there’s a reason for them to come again regularly as next time we might just have their next favourite ever purchase!

ANF - With a packed working life, do you manage to take time off and how do you relax away from the job?

TW - For those who know me well, will know that I live my work!

I throw a good 60 hrs a week into what I do Monday-Saturday. As my old man says “it’s a paid hobby” But outside of Im a family man. I’ve got my wife Calley and my two children Abigail and Lenny.

Sundays are family days, I live in Worthing and being a coastal town I’m always drawn to the sea. On nice Sundays it’s days down the beach and walks along coast or bike rides for the little ones, on those not so pleasant days then it’s down the café for family breakfasts or lazy days indoors with games and movies. They’re my everything, they’re what the 60hrs a week at work are for...the love of antiques and restoration definitely helps though.