School superintendent's shop revives love of antiques

Contributed A display at The Whistling Swan Antiques and Fine Gifts in Guilford showcases antiques large and small.

When not working as superintendent of the Bainbridge-Guilford Central School District, Oxford native Timothy Ryan, 51, is sharing his love of antiques.

Ryan reopened The Whistling Swan Antiques and Fine Gifts at 1236 county Road 35 in Guilford four years ago, after launching the store previously in Oxford.

“I had a store back in the early 2000s when I was teacher at Oxford High School (with) the same name and that closed in 2006, because it got to be too busy while teaching full time, but I always wanted to reopen,” he said. “And now that I have the space, I only do it on Saturdays, because my regular job keeps me pretty busy.”

That space, Ryan said, is within the carriage barn and back portion of Guilford’s historic Cable House.

“I purchased the house four years ago and it was a house I’d always wanted,” he said. “I grew up three miles up the road and had always admired this house. When I had the opportunity to purchase it in 2015, I just jumped on it. It’s a 4,000-square-foot Victorian and in the back, where the store is, there used to be a cobbler’s shop in the 1800s … and I just expanded into the barn.

The shop, Ryan noted, is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays, closing after Christmas and reopening around Mother’s Day.

Shoppers, he said, will find a “little bit of everything.”

“We have glassware, which is pretty collectible with a lot of people, country furniture, Victorian furniture, bedroom sets, dressers, large pieces and everything in between,” Ryan said. “We have some primitives, (such as) washstands and painted furniture — people are very into that right now — and some of my dealers have smaller, vintage kitchen items.”

Ryan said he curates Whistling Swan wares “from all over,” alongside pieces provided by three local dealers represented within the shop.

“I go to auctions, estate sales and word-of-mouth really helps,” he said. “People will call me to see if I’d be interested in purchasing something from them and I’ve been weeding out my personal collection as well.”

Beyond antiques, Ryan noted, Whistling Swan carries candles, dip and cheesecake mixes, flowers, wreathes, soaps and more.

“Even if you aren’t into antiques,” he said, “there’s a lot of great gift things, too. I try to make the shop appeal to a broader audience because I think having a nice mix is the way to please everyone.”

Shoppers, Ryan said, are also varied.

“The shop is attracting people from all over the area,” he said. “I’ve had customers from as far as Cooperstown and Binghamton, Norwich, Greene, Bainbridge and Sidney, so it’s kind of all over the place, which is nice.

“I’m hoping to attract more local people,” he continued. “I’m really hoping to garner local foot traffic and build a Guilford clientele base … as well as those people that are traveling from out of town.”

Ryan said he’s looking forward to focusing on the shop throughout the next decade.

“I want to continue to build this business,” he said, “so that when I retire down the road, I have this to fall back on.”

For more information, find “The Whistling Swan Antiques and Fine Gifts” on Facebook.

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