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She exited commuting life for antiques

THE PAINTED designs on a trunk at a new Stafford County antiques store have dimmed with age, but its patina of history appeals to owner Diana Garnett.

The wooden piece was put together with hand-forged nails and has its original clasp. The maker added the date, 1799, on the front, but the glove box inside has gone missing over the years.

“My best guess is that it was made in northern Europe and came into this country in Minnesota,” said Garnett as she gave a tour of Black Dog Furniture & Collectibles, which fronts State Route 218 in Falmouth.

“I love the trunk. I love the history, wondering where the trunk has been and how it got to be at my store,” she added. “I find that very interesting.”

Garnett’s shop, located at 1101 Potomac Ave., Suite 105, is filled with treasures both old and new that she’s picked up at estate sales or purchased from customers who are downsizing.

They run the gamut from frameable copies of old postcards depicting Fredericksburg scenes that she’s blown up to vintage clothing to a pair of chairs from the ’60s that would look at home on the set of “Mad Men.”

“I find them to be very elegant,” Garnett said of the chairs, which feature the same Jacquard fabric but in different colors. One is turquoise; the other is gold.

There are even a couple of sewing baskets complete with old buttons and the wax that women used when threading needles, a poster from the ’40s advertising National Red Cross Shoe Week and an air hockey table.

Garnett, 38, decided to open Black Dog, which is named for her black German shepherd puppy, Luke Skywalker, after years of commuting to Washington. Her last position was as an information specialist for the American Horse Protection Association, a nonprofit dedicated to the welfare of horses.

“I wanted to do something closer to home that was my own,” she said. “This is something I’ve always wanted to do.”

Garnett grew up in Stafford and spent weekends accompanying her father, Bill Garnett, on antiquing trips across Maryland and Virginia. He bought and sold them as a sideline and now runs Garnett’s Warehouse off Lafayette Boulevard in Fredericksburg.

“When I decided that this was what I wanted to do, my father took me on buying and selling trips more,” she said.

Black Dog is in a former consignment shop that had been vacant for some time. It has a black and white tiled showroom in the front, and an office off to one side in the middle where Luke Skywalker likes to chew bones and she can keep an eye on the shop.

In the back is additional space with a large garage door, which makes it easy for Garnett to unload her latest finds or load up a customer’s vehicle.

Her clientele includes tweens looking for old games and fun things, older clients looking to downsize or redecorate and everyone in between.

“I have a customer who is remodeling her basement,” Garnett said. “She likes to come in looking for new things and to get rid of old things.”

Garnett buys items for her shop outright from customers. She does not take them on commission.

What is selling best for her now are modern pieces about a decade old, such as bedroom and dining room sets; and small antiques, including china, crystal and old Pepsi bottles in their wooden holder.

“Right now my plan is to stay here and expand,” Garnett said. “I believe this is a great location. It’s very spacious, and I can pull up to the back in my van. I had a customer who purchased a very large dining room set. They drove their truck in back and loaded it. I had everything set up for them.”

Cathy Jett: 540/374-5407

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