LEE — Just inside the door of the new Finders Keepers on Main Street you can hear the hushed whispers of excited discoveries. “Oh my god, look at this crocheted coverlet,” says Josie Dlugos of Richmond. “This has got to be handmade. And it’s only $50. That’s a steal.”
Cheryl Wendling of Pittsfield points to a vintage rocking horse. “My father made me one of those when I was a kid,” she says wistfully. “This is like a walk down memory lane.” Another visitor checks out the shop’s impressive array of jewelry, ethnic as well as vintage pieces, while a couple measures a dresser, appreciatively running fingers over aged wood.
The name of the store is a clue to its tone: Finders Keepers is both high-end antiques haven and walk-in treasure hunt, offering everything from affordable vintage buttons, linens, china, and tchotchkes to gorgeous antique rockers, cabinets, and armoires. Another telling detail is its location in Lee. Unlike the more artsy, touristy meccas of Stockbridge and Lenox, Lee epitomizes the down-to-earth practicality of the “real” Berkshires where regular folks live and work. There’s a Price Chopper and hardware store down one end of Main Street, a barber shop and a funky diner on the other end, with lots of little mom-and-pop businesses in between.
Finders Keepers’ mark of distinction is an eclectic mix of quality items that are not just beautiful and affordable but useful as well. Co-owned by Michele LeClair, who has been in the antiques business for over 25 years, and her mother, Pat Hickey, Finders Keepers is one of the most visible signs of Lee’s recent downtown rejuvenation. The shop opened June 1 on the first floor of the mixed-use Consolati building, which Berkshire Housing Development Corp. has been rehabilitating to create affordable housing on the upper floors. The 3,000-square-foot storefront is bright and open, part owner retail, part consignment, and part rental, with 14 vendors contributing goods and nine more on a waiting list for space.
Goods come from buyers as well as liquidators, which helps explain the impressive variety and affordability throughout the store’s nooks and crannies. There’s even a back room featuring old tools, fixtures, and a beautiful set of blue bocce balls that the owners refer to as “the man cave.” LeClair says, “The guys just love to go back there.” On the wall are the blue letters “TRY” in butcher tile. It’s not a mandate, but rather an original detail from when the building was a grocery store — originally it read “POULTRY.”
For many, like Wendling, Finders Keepers is a charming throwback, offering items that families cast out decades ago as “old-fashioned,” but are now beginning to re-appreciate. So while I coveted the Bavarian china teapot with the gold trim, I walked out with something considerably more modest and familiar — a $2 set of silver-plated napkin rings and pie server like Grandma used to have.
FINDERS KEEPERS 53 Main St., Lee, 413-394-4122. Mon-Sat 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun 11-5.Karen Campbell can be reached at email@example.com.