Fifteen-year-old Allen Shrewsbury is the youngest antiques dealer at south Forsyth’s Lakewood 400 Antiques Market. He is also one of the most successful.
The Forsyth County teen, a freshman at Forsyth Virtual Academy, started dealing antiques three years ago, at age 12.
“He has a drive,” said his mother, Pam Shrewsbury. “He’s a natural-born salesman.”
Though he began with only one stall, Shrewsbury has expanded his business to six stalls, as well as an online business, and has reaped the profits: in 2016, he earned $120,000 in gross income.
This year, he expects to make as much as $200,000, he said.
Shrewsbury’s love of antiques began at an early age.
“When he was old enough to communicate, like 3 or 4 years old, [he said] he didn’t want new toys from Walmart or Target,” his mom said. “He liked matchbox cars, but he liked the old ones. By the time he was in kindergarten, I was taking him to [Lakewood 400] to find the old cars.
“I never did anything [with] antiques or anything so it was always amazing to me, like, ‘why does he like this old stuff?’”
Shrewsbury’s interest was in more than just old matchbox toys.
“I like the stuff you see on American Pickers – that’s basically what this whole business is,” he said. “It’s digging through barns, dealing with clients in other states and buying overstock and old signs, that kind of thing, and re-selling them.
“I’m doing what I love, and I’m making money at it.”
The first time Shrewsbury forayed into antiques dealing, he was only 7 or 8, according to his mom.
“He bought something on one side of the [Lakewood] building – it was some blocks, some little wood blocks,” she said. “He said, ‘Come on, Mom!’ And then he took them to the other side of the building and sold them for a profit.
“I didn’t tell him to do it – he just did it on his own. That was kind of the beginning. Then at yard sales, he just kind of knew what dealers had things priced at and he would know if he should buy something and turn it. It was just like a natural progression.”
By age 10, Shrewsbury was driving his mother crazy, urging her to let him have a booth at Lakewood.
She was able to put him off until he was 12, and even then, she said, she thought it would be a one-month experiment.
“She thought it was going to be a one-month thing, because each booth was $125 and she didn’t think I’d make any money or I’d do anything,” Shrewsbury said. “And I just took some stuff down and made about $1,000 that weekend. She let me go ahead and do it the next month, and it kind of turned into a thing.”
Almost four years years later, Shrewsbury is making $3,000-5,000 per show and traveling across the country to make deals.
“I do the Braselton Antiques Festival. I do Jefferson. I’ve done a show in Liberty, North Carolina,” he said. “I fly up to Massachusetts for the largest antiques show there and fill up a storage unit and hire people to bring it back … it’s just grown into a huge thing now.”
Shrewsbury sets up shop at Lakewood every third weekend of the month, from Friday to Sunday.
While a website is coming, his eBay site can be accessed at stores.ebay.com/toysandcoins0504/.