Here in the decorating department of Martha Stewart Living, were often search for unique and antique pieces to use in photo shoots. In New York City, there are so many places to look, but one place we constantly visit is Center 44 in Midtown Manhattan. It's a spacious 25,000 sq. ft. center (encompassing a city block between 43rd and 44th), a stones throw away from Grand Central Station. Co-owners Paul Plumadore and Jim Tindell have been running the store for 5 1/2 years. They feature dealers selling antiques, artwork, lighting, furniture, accessories and even antique fabric. The bulk of their products date back to the mid-20th Century.
Though they weren't educated in design, both had artistic pasts. Paul was originally a dancer, Jim a photographer. Before running antique centers, the two were antique dealers. In 2003, they were involved in the opening of a center in Harlem, Lafayette Antique at the Warehouse. On opening day, the manager quit and they were asked to come on as replacements. That management experience is what Paul says gave Jim the crash course they needed in management to run Center 44.
Unfortunately two years later, the building was sold to Manhattan Mini Storage, and so Paul and Jim were out of a job. However, they seized the opportunity and found a way to start their own business.
"We had all these dealers and they wanted to do something. So we said hey, let’s go downtown. We found this place within a couple of weeks…just sort of happened by serendipity," Paul said.
Many of the dealers transferred over to the new store. An old warehouse building that was built for the teamsters in 1904. The building's history makes it the perfect place to house such old objects. Currently, the space holds 70 vendors, but has room for 75 since a few vendors have expanded to use multiple spots. One of the main things Paul and Jim look for is variety in their vendors. Their wide range of products is what Paul thinks sets them apart from other antique centers.
"I’d like to say it’s mostly eclecticism. But also, we’re not snooty about what we do. We’re very hands on. We own it and we work the floor. We’re very service oriented. We work with our clients," Paul said.
The space is really incredible to be in. While a majority of their customers are designers, Center 44 is open to the public. The place is great if you're looking for something specific, but the sheer size and variety of space is also great for inspiration.
As Paul says, "You never know what you're going to find here."