Some children follow in a parent’s footsteps, choosing professions in education, law, medicine or the trades. Jesse Schultz, whose grandfather was an auctioneer and whose parents deal in antiques, shares his family’s passion for items that previous generations have preserved and cherished.
Just two-and-a-half years after opening Unique Antiques of Connecticut in Canton, Schultz, 29, and his wife Brittany, 33, of New Hartford have brought their eye for beautiful antiques and their keen business acumen to Granby. On Dec. 2, the couple opened a second shop in the former Granby Pharmacy space at 9 Hartford Avenue.
While a passion for well-preserved, handmade objects from the past may be in Jesse’s genes, for Brittany, it is an acquired taste. “I grew up in Colebrook and studied biology and environmental science at Carson University in Potsdam, N.Y.,” Brittany says. After working for a few years in environmental fundraising and development in California, Brittany, a Connecticut native who missed her family, returned to her hometown of Colebrook.
“It wasn’t long before I met Jesse, who is friends with my brothers and so committed to making his living by preserving things from the past,” Brittany says. “I fell in love with this business, which has gotten me closer to my passion to keep things out of landfills.”
A self-described perennial student, her then-boyfriend’s business led Brittany to return to school. “I was working at the University of Hartford as an alumni events planner, so I started working on an art history degree there,” she says, noting that understanding the history and value of works of art has become a valuable asset as their fine art collection grows.
The Schultzes were married in February 2019, and in May of that year, Brittany received a degree in digital communication, which makes perfect sense since her husband had spent the previous two years as an online auctioneer. Two years later, in May of 2021, the couple opened Unique Antiques of Connecticut in Canton. Their son Luke was a year old, and Brittany was pregnant with their daughter Lily.
Jesse’s journey to small business ownership took a different course. A New Hartford native, he graduated from Oliver Wolcott Technical High School in Torrington. While there, at age 16 he started what quickly became a property maintenance business, advertising himself in the Foothills Trader as “a young man with a van doing dump runs.”
“It was a way to earn money,” Jesse says. “I made connections with realtors and ended up working with banks on foreclosures, making repairs. My shop at Tech was manufacturing, so I know how to use tools and machines and can figure out how to repair just about anything.”
When Jesse was a youngster, he tagged along with his grandfather to auctions and flea markets. “You might say I am self-educated,” he says with a grin. “While I love this business, it was scary when we were starting out not to know from week to week how much we would be earning to pay our bills. But I’m doing what I know, so we just had to have faith that if we work hard, we will be successful.”
Much of the Schultzes’ stock comes from families who inherit houses full of antiques that they don’t want. “They bring them to us, and we find them new homes,” Brittany says. “When it’s an entire home or a big collection, Jesse goes to them to bid on the entire lot.”
With so much merchandise to be saved, in addition to their two shops, the Schultzes continue to operate the online auction business. “It helps move merchandise when Jesse buys the contents of an estate, a bookstore, a huge Madame Alexander doll collection or an extensive collection of antique clocks, all of which he has done in recent months,” Brittany says.
When the Schultzes are home with their children and their pit bull/boxer mix Leah, they take turns sneaking online time to research recent acquisitions and look for items that customers have requested. “We have been adaptive, and we love new challenges,” Jesse says.
Before he bought the clock collection in June, Jesse knew very little about clocks. “People have questions, and I have to be able to answer them,” he says, noting that while all clocks function in a similar manner, he needs to understand their unique histories, and there were 450 of them, including many that were made here in Connecticut. “They have been moving really quickly,” he adds.
The shop is closed on Monday and Tuesday. “We keep the kids home with us on Monday, which is our big family day for adventures,” Brittany says. “Our goal is to build a knowledgeable staff, so we can comfortably take one weekend day off as Luke and Lily get older.”
Jesse dreams of someday opening a 20,000-square-foot shop in a building that he and Brittany own. But for now, the Schultzes are thrilled with their new space.
“We couldn’t have asked for a warmer or more enthusiastic response from the people in Granby,” Brittany says. “They have welcomed us with open arms.”