Amorini Antiques Centre
Our first 'Shop Independent business' is Amorini Antiques Centre, a truly unique shop that attracts visitors from across the Wirral. You can find them at 1 Hamilton St, Birkenhead CH41 6DJ
We asked owner Carol McWilliams to tell us a little about her background, describe the business and tell us what makes it and Birkenhead so special.
Tell us about your company
Amorini Antiques Centre is the only centre of its type on the Wirral and this month we are celebrating four years of trading. With 10 rooms to explore and 30+ dealers under one roof, this fascinating emporium has something for everyone and prices to suit all pockets.
With its huge stock of retro furniture, silverware, jewellery, ceramics, art work, militaria and books as well as top quality shabby chic furniture and a vast array of other collectables Amorini Antiques Centre is a fascinating place to while away a couple of hours.
When you’ve finished looking round why not drop into the Centre’s lovely Vintage Tearooms where they serve fantastic home-made cakes, snacks and mouth-watering afternoon teas (the tearooms are closed on Sundays).
The Centre is located just two minutes’ walk from both the Liverpool Ferry terminal at Woodside and Hamilton Square Station and close to Hamilton Square with its lovely Georgian buildings.
Where are you from?
Born Leeds, lived on the Wirral for 30 years, now living in Tilston near Malpas
What is your background? Have you always been involved in the antique trade?
I have bought and sold antiques for 45 years, I’ve spent many years standing at and running antique fairs throughout the North West. I was also a Senior Manager in the NHS for over 20 years.
Why have did you set up the business in Birkenhead?
We have owned the premises for over 40 years – my husband and I also own a printing business and we used to run our digital printing business from the Hamilton Street premises – this was when digital printing businesses really needed to have a ‘shop front’ premises. Nowadays, with most customer interactions being online, we decided to move the business to a purpose-built studio in our main factory in Wallasey. This meant the Hamilton Street premises was empty; I was renting space in an antiques centre at the time and, as Birkenhead used to be a thriving centre for antiques, I thought it would be a good idea to try and revive that interest by opening an antiques Centre of my own.
I was amazed at the interest shown and within a few weeks the place was full of dealers running their own ‘mini-businesses’ from the building.
Since opening, we have seen a very gratifying upsurge in antiques businesses locally with 6 of our original dealers leaving to set up their own businesses and other dealers moving into the area.
It was also my dream to open an antiques shop that people could walk into and not feel uncomfortable or on edge, somewhere where they could find something to suit all tastes and pockets and somewhere where they could come on a regular basis and not seem the same stock every time they came. The vast number of positive comments and compliments that we get is testament to the fact that, due to the hard work of the dealers, we have got that exactly right!
What do you like the most about running a business in Birkenhead?
Most definitely, the people!
There is a great family atmosphere at Amorini – the 30+ dealers who rent space at the Centre are all running their own mini-businesses and are committed to making the place a success. Their enthusiasm and knowledge makeevery day different……and then, of course there are the customers: we get visitors from all over the world, specialists in all sorts of fields and many with great stories to tell – life is never dull at Amorini!
What was the most exciting thing to happen with the business?
The most exciting thing for me was the first time we appeared on the BBC’s Antiques Road Trip. Not because I like being on TV – I’m actually very shy so it was quite difficult for me – but for all the dealers who rent space at the Centre. The first programme was aired 18 months after we opened and gave us the biggest publicity boost we have ever had. Since that first TV programme we have featured on a second Antiques Road Trip, Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is, French Collection and To B&B The Best
Do you ever run events?
We ran our first ‘Amorini Outdoors’ event this year in conjunction with Birkenhead First. We also host visits for groups which can include a talk, quiz or a mini ‘Antiques Road Trip’ where each group member spends up to £10 on items; the items are then sold online and the person who makes the most profit is the winner!
Our vintage tea rooms host everything from baby showers to children’s afternoon tea parties.
Where do you want the business to be in two years?
I would like to see Amorini continue to grow and expand – for me, it is about making the place a success for the dealers who run their businesses from it and a great place for customers to visit and, so long as they are happy….I am happy!
What do you do to relax away from the business?
Most of our spare time is spent with our 9 gorgeous grandchildren. I have also just started yoga classes to help relax and unwind.
The shop has free parking to the rear and is open 10am to 5pm every day except Christmas day and Boxing day.