Architect Erica Broberg Smith had a bone to pick with shopping in the Hamptons: “For me, it’s corporate and generic and cost-prohibitive. I kept saying to myself, ‘Show me something new. Surprise and delight me. Let’s go treasure hunting, like we used to.” Hampton Gather, Broberg Smith’s new East Hampton antique and consignment store, a venture with husband Scott Smith of Smith River Kitchens, aims to change that. The antiques aficionado sat down to chat with EAL about the new shop, which just opened its doors last month.
Inside Hampton Gather
Where did you source your original trove of antiques? Has this been years in the making?
Actually, yes! I have had a collection of unusual items for years. That said, I have many design friends who do the same. We share our finds with one another on an almost daily basis, via text.
The other source for items has been my clientele as an architect in the Hamptons. During a renovation or expansion, most people purge their style, keep a few of their favorite meaningful items and want to get rid of the rest. Many of these “toss aways” are fabulous pieces purchased at high-end antique shops all over the world. Other items are just plain interesting objects and finds. Many of my past clients are consignors and it’s a wonderful way to stay in touch and discuss design together. They help a local shop that employs a handful of design-oriented people and make a few bucks while doing it!
The consignment portion has been a boon for local people wanting to sell interesting items and for designers looking for unusual pieces to add a uniqueness to their projects. The prices are very low by Hamptons standards, so it is possible to walk out with a $30 purchase that you absolutely love. I also stop at yard sales, antique shops, auction houses, wherever I am. My husband knows he will have to “hand-carry” something precious home on any flight we take.
So, we hear you’re open to bartering. Can you share an example of a recent exchange?
We recently bartered a midcentury rattan set of furniture for some gorgeous rewired warehouse lights for a kitchen. We also barter for services with local companies in exchange for work if needed. Some of the products and consignments are negotiable and we do what we can to make a sale, like most of the world still does. The haggling is done with a spirit of fun….
The philosophy is really to have fun. The items are so varied, the people who come in are so interesting, and the consignment portion keeps us guessing as to what pieces will show up each day. The fact that we are in East Hampton is exceptional, since the local community has within it many retired, very well-traveled, sophisticated folks. The items they bring in have fascinating stories of travels to foreign lands.
Erica Broberg Smith
What are some of your favorite pieces you’ve stumbled upon ?
My favorite pieces by far are the industrial warehouse lights we have for kitchens. Since I am an architect and co-own Smith River Kitchens with my husband, they are a special find. We never have to use Restoration Hardware again! I also love the 1890s carnival wheel in blue glass with etched glass accents. It came from a farm in Vermont. It is my hope someone will see it and make it into the most amazing coffee table of all time.
We found a German source for biergarten tables right from Germany! They are so easy to fold up and could go anywhere, even right on the beach for a BBQ. We keep them in stock since they are so versatile. Almost every one we have sold to date has been used in a dining room, although we have our own that we use in the covered porch.
We found a wicker horse purse with swirled marble eyes to die for. I really want it for myself—sometimes it is so difficult not to keep the inventory! My husband, Scott, who is my partner in the shop, has his favorites as well. Since he is an avid hunter and fisherman, anything nautical or nature related interests him. We have some American folk and outdoor items from a trip to Montana, Wyoming and Utah, as well as the Navajo Nation, this past summer.
How does your shop aim to remedy today’s online-shopping, instant-gratification culture?
Hampton Gather is meant to inspire and delight those who enter. It is an old-fashioned treasure hunt, which is basically nonexistent. I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t enjoy looking at old things, antique things, and wandering around tag sales. These sorts of items are imbued with history and time.
Interior design and decor has a history, no matter how modern your aesthetic is. It’s the play between the objects that inhabit a space that makes a house interior truly dynamic. Some say antiques were “out” for a while, and I can definitely say that people are thrilled and relieved to walk into an old-school treasure trove to spend an hour relaxing and wandering around.