Schmidt’s Antiques is now in its second century serving Antiques buyers and sellers from around the world. Originating in Troy, New York when in 1911 Neils Iver Schmidt began selling refurbished Victorian sofas from his upholstery shop window. Neils, a Danish immigrant, saw an opportunity and quickly established a business buying and selling antiques full time, he was later joined in the venture by one of his four sons, Alfred. A natural entrepreneur, Alfred Schmidt has soon operating his own shop and around the end of WWI, moved to Detroit where he opened an Antiques store and also worked as an auctioneer. This is where he met his wife, Blanche, an Illinois school teacher who was in Detroit with her sister searching for their brother who had not returned from WWI. In 1938 Alfred and Blanche moved the business to its present location on US-12 West of Ypsilanti, which at the time was the main thoroughfare for Detroit to Chicago travelers. Schmidt then began conducting monthly auctions in the Victorian frame farmhouse and also sold Antiques that were purchased on his frequent trips “back East” to dealers and collectors. Shortly after WWII Alfred was joined in the business by his sons Joe, Bob and Iver, and in 1955 Alfred made his first buying trip to Europe. Soon the Schmidt family was importing as many as 50 containers each year filled with antique furniture, clocks and “bric-a-brac” from England, Scotland, Ireland, Holland, France, Spain, Sweden and Germany. In the early 1960’s the monthly auctions grew into two day sales on the “First Saturday and preceding Friday” of each month and buyers’ flocked from all over the Midwest. During that time outlets were opened in Memphis and Little Rock to handle the quantity of goods coming in from Europe. Each spring and fall the Schmidt family would conduct large 3-day auctions at the Arkansas Gallery to disperse leftover inventory. In the 1960’s Schmidt’s began conducting Estate auctions as well, and in 1963 held a huge 5-day on site Auction of American and English antiques for the Estate of Charles Newton, who had worked as the primary buyer of Antiques for Henry Ford during the establishment of the Ford Museum and Greenfield Village. In the 1970’s current proprietors Jay and Chuck Schmidt joined the business and ran it with their father Joe Schmidt until he passed away in 1993. The antiques import business gradually slowed as the auction business continued to grow and auction sales now account for about half the total sales each year. These auctions often include items that are selling at Schmidt’s for the second and sometimes even a third time, and current clients include many children and grandchildren of former auction goers. The monthly Auctions have evolved into quarterly Gallery auctions of Antiques and Decorative Arts and a series of auctions called “Schmidt’s Friday Nights” which are held on the fourth Friday of each month. Many auctions now feature the “latest in antique technology” including absentee and telephone bidding and live internet bidding from around the world, while still attracting a large crowd of traditional buyers. Currently conducting Estate auctions and specialized auctions which often feature collections of similar items including Americana, Clock & Watch auctions, Decorative and Fine Arts auctions to name a few. This allows Schmidt’s to target buyers and focus advertising to fit the items being offered, and attract more specialized collectors. Great, great grandsons of Neils Iver, Zack and Nate Schmidt now regularly assist in the business and represent the 5th generation of auctioneers and antiques dealers. The antiques business is one of the original “Green” businesses, as goods are recycled from one generation to the next. One of Alfred Schmidt’s favorite mantras when advising his customers was to “always buy the best example that you can afford” thus insuring a viable collection, which will continue to grow in value, all the while concentrating on what Schmidt’s has always strived to offer its clients:
“Quality that will last a lifetime………………….………..Again”.
Please visit us at our spacious, always well-stocked Ypsilanti Galleries. We would love to make your acquaintance.