Carole Carter is an avid collector with a love for old furnishings, which she transforms into new treasures. Carolyn Sloan
By Carolyn Sloan
To call her simply an antique collector doesn’t quite fit the bill. To put it mildly, Carole Carter has a soft spot for old furnishings, particularly the unloved, unwanted or unpolished variety, of which she is a most devoted and attentive caretaker. “I am an avid collector, a pack rat, and I inherited the dumpster-diving gene from my father,” Carole explains. “I see treasures in unusual places. “Old things are just so beautiful. I mean, they’ve seen life.”
This past September, the retired school teacher transformed the carriage house on their Bridgetown property into a home for old treasures given new life. The shop, called The Emporium on Park Lane, is a joint effort between Carole and her husband Campbell Coulter, who takes care of the bookkeeping so his wife can devote her time to her favourite hobbies – running the shop and playing with fabric. “I’m madly passionately in love with fabric,” she says. “There is something about fabric that says ‘This is what I’m supposed to be.’”
Carole points out some of her beautiful wares, including elegant handmade Christmas stockings, which she created in her own workshop. She also carries locally hooked rugs, old quilts, and the kind of aprons grandma always wore. For some, coming into the store is a trip down memory lane.
As a hobby, the business is primarily an opportunity for its owner to give the store environs a very personal touch. Each item on display comes with its own story or description, as well as notes on how it might be put to use. For Carole, putting pre-loved furnishings back in use is also a question of value in this day and age of so many cheap, replaceable goods. “People just don’t value things anymore,” she says. “Nobody fixes things. Nobody repairs things. “Here, things that are still good are not being thrown away. I think there are people who are sick and tired of decadent waste.”
Carole and Campbell moved to Bridgetown four years ago, purchasing a beautiful house built in the 1920s. Both had taught school in Southern Ontario and planned to move out west for their retirement. However, while visiting Greenwood, Nova Scotia, they happened to get a glimpse of the local real estate and soon changed their minds. “We wanted a small community we could be part of,” Carole explains. “As teachers [we were so involved]…so it was just a continuation of that way of life for us.”
Now she and Campbell are able to support and showcase local creative talent in the shop, such as Granville Centre’s Ken Roberts, who turns wooden spools from the former Britex plant, as well as boards from an old school house in Caledonia, to make a variety of products, from coat racks to candlesticks.