By Mackenzie Carmen
exeter – Exeter’s newest antique store comes with two very antique savvy owners, originally from Las Vegas. They have completed training to get their Fine Art Appraisal certification and are also part of the Getty Museum’s research department.
“We’ve taken all these special courses,” explained owner Larry Harrington who runs the business with his wife Kathleen. As a result, they have access to many items at the museum that aren’t even available to the public.
Larry specializes in art and uniquely, vintage watches. While, Kathleen specializes in items such as vintage clothing, ceramics, pottery and more. Their diversity of expertise is apparent in their large store’s collection of thousands of unique items you can’t find anywhere else.
The story behind the Lamplighter Mercantile and Trading Center’s name may just be as unique as the store itself.
“My grandfather, at the turn of the century, back in Indiana, would go along the city streets and light the gas [street] lights. And when he did, people would come outside their houses and business because he would sing as he went along,” explained Harrington who added at the end of the day his grandfather would return, turn the lights off and receive tips for his singing.
Before moving to Exeter, the Harringtons owned two stores right across the street from each other in Visalia. After originally opening the Lamplighter Mercantile, a building in eyeshot to them became available. The timing was right, so they opened their second antique store, Main Street Mercantile. “It was doing good. We had a great following, great clientele, great friends then the city rezoned it,” explained Harrington.
The story of how The Lamplighter Mercantile and Trading Company landed in Exeter is much like many of the other recent antique stores that have opened shop in the small town of Exeter. The owners say they relocated after rezoning in Visalia changed their location to a microbrewery in downtown Visalia.
Harrington said for a time they looked for a location to relocate to in Visalia, but after time they say they “got tired of the traffic on East Main Street.” That was when they decided to make the move to the much quieter, Exeter.
“We’d heard wonderful things about Exeter,” said Harrington “Exeter is a friendly town in contrast to Visalia.”
After a large project to convert the building from a hardware store to a more appropriate venue for an antique store, The Lamplighter Mercantile and Trading Company opened shop at 137 S. E St. in downtown Exeter. “We’re glad to be here,” said Harrington.
Harrington said he looks forward to working with the other antique store owners he has come to know who were originally from Visalia as well. “The more we help other people the more it’s going to help us,” said Harrington.