Kerry and Jim Konopka, the proud owners of Hartmann Antiques, have been in Lafayette for 20 years, first in the co-op Mill behind them and, for the past ten, on the lower level of the Chocolate Goat. They deal in “early country pine primitive furniture” all American-made pine and cherry antiques from the early to mid 1800s and uphold the tradition of the shop’s owners for the first 48 years, Kerry’s parents. Kerry’s father taught his son-in-law Jim how to refinish furniture. At 91, he still wants to see what’s going on. True passion never dies.
“I’ve grown up with this business so I have the eye for what to buy. I’ve kept my mom’s early country look,” Kerry says. “There’s a look and a finish to American furniture that Canadian and European don’t have.” That includes the thickness of the wood and its character.
Inside the shop there are true antiques, like the cherry dresser with a dove-tail top with bread board ends, dovetailed and chanfered drawers and a bracket base a distinctly American piece, and an early two-piece mixed wood cupboard that would span the width of most walls. There’s a copper sink once covered in paint that Jim removed. He removes veneer from mirrors to expose their beautiful wood.
“It took 48 years to get this business where it is today. My things are antique. None of my furniture is considered to be collectible or mediocre in age. My tables are original. I don’t reproduce tables or anything else. When someone buys it they can take it into their home and love it to death,” says Kerry. Hartmann Antiques has repeat customers from the ’60s and ’70s. The Konopkas buy from auctions, estate sales and “pickers,” who know what they like. ~Story by Mary Jasch
Kerry’s mother and father, Fred and Harriet Hartmann 50 years ago started this business, now owned and operated by Jim and Kerry Konopka. Dad showed his “favorite son-in-law”, Jim, how to refinish furniture and achieve the “Hartmann color and finish” reputation. It was a slow process by hand stripping, rubbing, using the secret “Hartmann colored stain”, which was always specially mixed, and the many brush applied coats of varnish and shellac and not too mention the sanding in between each coat of finish. Yes, it was not easy, but who said something that looks that good could be that easy.
Harriet has rubbed off on her daughter Kerry the knack for displaying and decorating all of these pieces in a home setting. There has been many times that a piece was sold as it was displayed, with all the decorations on it.
Our selection of pine primitives has not changed through all these years. Harriet was criticized by not going into other types of furniture by other dealers, and that she would die with those pine primitives. But she did not and neither has Jim or Kerry. The Hartmanns do carry other kinds of furniture woods such as some chestnut, oak, cherry and several lovely empire pieces. We take pride in our enormous selection of one of a kind and unusual items. Our barn is filled with country furniture like desks, tables, dressers, end tables, apathacaries, pie safe, corner cupboards, straight cupboards, stepback cupboards, barrel back cupboards and all of this mixed with accessories such as mirrors, lighting, wall hanging items and many other interesting pieces.
Harriet at 90 years of age and Fred at 93 years of age are still very much interested in the goings on of Hartmann Antiques and still contribute helpful suggestions to both Jim and Kerry. And of course their knowledge has been the foundation which Kerry and Jim have continued in the success of Hartmann Antiques.