For one thing, it’s located in West Brome, a bucolic hamlet that is not, with the exception of the venerable Edwards general store, known as a hotbed of retail activity. For another, it occupies the renovated and expanded Hungerford house, built in 1837, and one of the oldest homes in the Eastern Townships. For yet another, it cannot be pinned down as any one type of store. It offers artisanal soaps and bathroom potions, made by an anonymous partner who may, or may not, be named Sykes.
It buys and sells antiques of every stripe, from repurposed pine furniture and massive architectural columns to clunky manual typewriters and wrought iron widgets.
There is delicate old porcelain on display, sturdy new enamel kitchen ware, vases, lamps, bird feeders, jars of Scottish preserves and, notably, decorative chalk paint from England’s famed Annie Sloan, one of a select group of boutique retailers for her product in North America.
It features, finally, anything that strikes the fancy of the very active partner in this enterprise, the personable Mark McGee. He and said silent partner
bought the property seven years ago, completely reimagined the luminous ground floor space while enshrining its heritage, and hung out their shingle two years
later. It has been a going concern ever since.
McGee is a 25-year veteran of life in the high-tech trenches of downtown Montreal.With his partner, he also bought and flipped numerous properties in the city. When they saw the Hungerford place, they bought it, kept it, and fled urban life.
“My mother had an antique shop so I guess it’s in the blood,” says the West Island native on a brittle, bright November day. “We said, ‘let’s do this’. But the antiques business isn’t what it was, so we tried to find things that were different.” Sykes & McGee is the result.
As he talks, he shows an antique climbing monkey toy, just one of the curiosities he finds combing basements, barns, back rooms and estate sales to offer to designers and his loyal customers.
He is delighted with a group of ancient pallets he will turn into tables and casually shows a comprehensive book on Berlin he wrote in an earlier life. He claims, and it seems obvious, that he has no regrets about the radical change in lifestyle. “I went from high-tech to low-tech, and I’ve never been happier.”
For more information go to sykesandmcgee.com call 450-776-0982, or visit 3 McCurdy Rd., Wednesday through Sunday.