By Gayvin Powers
Just shy of a century old, the brick building on Carthage Street in downtown Cameron, housing The Old Hardware Antiques and Dewberry Deli, has been around for 95 years. It started as the Ford agency in 1920 and later became the J.A. Phillips Hardware and Mule Auction Center before changing into an antique store owned by Jane and Ken Fairbanks. Twenty-eight years ago, the Fairbanks came out to visit Miss Belle’s Tea Room and Antiques. They were so taken with Cameron that one Sunday afternoon they parked their car at the post office, watching the traffic come in and out of the town. That afternoon confirmed what many people throughout North Carolina already knew: Cameron is the place to go for antiques.
At the time, Ken Fairbanks and his father had been running Waysider antiques store in Sanford for eight years. When they saw Cameron, they knew that they had to move. “We were caught up with the charm,” says Jane.
Jane shares that she developed a love of antiques quite honestly. Aside from marrying a man who ended up owning an antique store, Jane’s mother instilled a love for antiques in Jane when she was young. It carried into adulthood; Jane has fond memories of working with her mother at The Old Hardware Antiques store, traveling together picking items for the shop and her mother “smiling and chatting with customers, helping them find answers to their questions.”
“Beryl Maude Willett, my mother, was a war bride. She met my father in England,” says Jane. It’s evident there was genuine fondness between mother and daughter when listening to Jane talk about her mother. Her mother lived to be 94, and mentioning her brings a smile and walloping laughter from Jane. “My mother hadn’t been in the country long when she saw a mule plowing a field. The farmer shouted at the mule, ‘Giddyup, Maude!’ That was it. From that day forth, my mother was known as Beryl.”
The Old Hardware Antiques shop focuses on “quality antique furniture and accessories.” However, “my mother always thought that English antiques were the best,” Jane adds. The proverbial apple doesn’t fall far from the tree; Jane blends her mother’s love with living in the United States, saying she enjoys “American country furniture with English accessories.”
There is a tradition of family at the store. Steeped in classics with all of the crystal, dark wood furniture and china, the store is cushioned with a cozy, down-home feel, thanks to the Fairbanks’ dogs: Rosie, a 10-year-old Jack Russell terrier, and Penny, a 13-year-old golden retriever, who are happy to show visitors around the shop.
When asked about the best part of having a family business with her husband, Jane says, “Ken, my husband, is usually willing to do the things I don’t want to tackle!” The challenges? “Having enough time to do it all!”
And there is a lot to be done considering they run both the antique store and the restaurant below The Old Hardware Antiques. In June of 1991, they opened Dewberry, the local deli, with the intention of “accommodating the many out-of-town customers and enabling them to spend a leisurely day shopping in historic Cameron,” explains Jane. Visitors notice she is true to her life philosophy that “honesty and a positive attitude build great relationships.”
In the coming month, Jane is most excited about the upcoming annual street fair in Cameron. What she loves most about the May antique show is “realizing that you are involved in such a popular and long-standing event that for 30+ years that has brought so many people together, adding new faces every year.” During this time, it seems like the entire community comes out to participate in the street fair. It’s enough to make a visitor think that the love of antiques, family and community spills out from each store owner to the entire town.
Cameron Antique Streets Fair
May 2, 2015 from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Known statewide as the place to visit for antiques, the quaint town of Cameron is having its annual Spring Antiques Street Fair in May. This fair has been going on for over 30 years, featuring refurbished and restored antiques as well as aged furniture that has been pulled out of family barns for the first time in years. The main street of Cameron will be bustling with visitors shopping the vendors’ unique treasures that pack the stores and yards of residents’ homes. Visitors may have a chat with the antique town’s matriarch, Isabelle McKeithan Thomas. In case you get peckish, the local delis will be open along with various pop-up vendors, including two local children who will have their annual soda booth that raises funds for charity.
Baby B Antiques
509 Carthage Street | Cameron, NC 28326
Ferguson House Antiques
509 Carthage Street | Cameron, NC 28326
The Market at Muse Bros. Store
422 Carthage Street | Cameron, NC 28326
This Old House Antiques
561 Carthage Street | Cameron, NC 28326
403 Carthage Street | Cameron, NC 28326
Now & Then Antiques
406 Carthage Street | Cameron, NC 28326
415 Carthage Street | Cameron, NC 28326
The Old Hardware Antiques
485 Carthage Street | Cameron, NC 28326