By Bruce Amaro
---- — It seems everyone from city leaders to merchants to customers rave about the success of the downtown restaurant district.
Everyone, that is, but Richard Tierney.
Most downtown eateries and lounges are packed several nights a week. Buildings that once had unsuccessful businesses or were vacant are thriving with activity.
While he wishes the downtown and its investors well, Tierney said the start of the downtown evolution didn’t work for the antique businesses he ran there for 18 years. His rent went up. The new customer base was no longer as interested in what he had to offer.
So he picked up and moved his Antique World shop from 108-114 Washington St. to a new location in Kingston, N.H.
That was in 2008, when the downtown was picking up steam toward becoming the current restaurant district.
“The rents started to go up,’’ Tierney said. “It got too expensive and I had an opportunity in Kingston with a friend and customers (who) weren’t so seasonal.”
When Tierney settled his shop into its Washington Street address next to the Tap restaurant and lounge in 1990, he had a regular clientele that drove to Haverhill just to do business with him.
“If I could’ve seen what was coming, I would’ve bought the building I was in,’’ he said. “I could’ve had it for $129,000 ... in 1992. But I didn’t see anything happening that would make it worthwhile, and now that building is out of reach and maybe worth almost three times that much.’’
Tierney said he is happy for Haverhill’s success and thinks Mayor James Fiorentini has helped the city realize some of its dreams.
“We certainly have a lively restaurant crowd now,’’ Tierney said of the new downtown customer base. “People come in from out of town, a different crowd.’’
In making the move to Kingston, Tierney took advantage of the opportunity to combine his antique shop with a business that sells new hand-made jewelry and related items.
“An old friend got me involved in his business up there (in Kingston, N.H.), and I can get better traffic for my antique business,” Tierney said.
A carpenter by trade who previously worked union jobs, Tierney said he earned a good living before going into the antique business.
Almost 20 years ago, a friend of his in Haverhill ran a second-hand furniture shop that morphed into the antique business.
She got items from old estates and sold that inventory to other antique dealers throughout the region.
“I just got into the business slowly, and made a good living at it,” Tierney said. “One thing led to another, and I found myself putting more time into the business.’’
Tierney attracted most of his business from regional antique dealers, other people who sold the antiques retail to shops and trade shows.
Most of Antique World’s inventory came from estate sales. Other dealers came in every week to buy items.
Tierney said as it turns out, the move to Kingston was good for him and the reason for his move has been good for Haverhill as the downtown continues to grow in a new direction.