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Antiquing in Atlanta

Miami Circle Is a "Must See" for Serious Antiquaries

It began as a design district back in the 1970s. Today, it's grown to more than 70 shops: Miami Circle – an antique collector's dream street in Atlanta, Ga. Situated off Piedmont Road just south of Peachtree, this bygone buyers' haven is not tailored for the casual window shopper. Instead, you'll discover that the European classics, rare imports and top-quality reproductions are hard to turn down.

Disney's family.com spoke with a few store proprietors on Miami Circle: John Tribble of J. Tribble Antiques, Patricia McGuone of The Gables Antiques, Linda Swan of Swan Antiques and Michael Gibson of Michael Gibson Antiques and Design Inc.

J. Tribble Antiques

J. Tribble Antiques specializes in 19th- and 20th-century fine and decorative arts, antique furniture imported from Europe, reproductions masterfully crafted in England out of the finest materials and miscellaneous accessories to complement the home.

family.com: Why is Atlanta such a hot spot for antique shopping?
JT: Having more than 500 showrooms within a two-mile area, Atlanta is a major design center catering to a national audience.

family.com: How can consumers tell the difference between authentic antiques and reproductions?
JT: The dealers on Miami Circle will tell a client if an item is old or reproduction. We differentiate by saying "made in Italy" as opposed to "origin Italy."

family.com: What do you consider your shop's specialty?
JT: Our business is twofold: Art Deco, Biedermeier and Italian Mirrors, and then we design and manufacture custom sink bases.

family.com: What did you learn at Sotheby's that has lead to your success as an antique dealer?
JT: I learned that art styles change constantly and that as a dealer if you do not go with change you will lose. Twenty years ago when I started in Atlanta, we would have never dreamed Art Deco would be a driving force in the design world as it is now. At that point, everyone in this area seemed to want Regency or English. These days, people seem to be after Country French or a clean line in the design.

The Gables Antiques

Down the street from J. Tribble Antiques you'll find The Gables Antiques, specializing in 18th- and 19th-century country French furniture, Chinese and English porcelain and exquisite accessories. Patricia McGuone gave us her perspective.

family.com: How did Miami Circle become Atlanta's home to European antiques?
PM: Miami Circle began as a warehouse district, and in 1982 three dealers (Dearing Antiques, Joseph Konrad and William Word) opened their shops here. In 1985 we moved to the street, and that was enough of a drawing card for others to follow.

family.com: When your buyers travel to France and England in search of antiques, what do they basically look for?
PM: The highest quality pieces for a fair price. We like to have a cross section of price ranges so that the customer who is beginning to collect for their home can buy a piece here and plan on coming back for a long time, as well as the antique connoisseur.

family.com: What do you consider your shop's specialty?
PM: In general, Country French is our specialty. That would include armoires, buffets, clocks and Aubusson tapestries. We are likewise known for our antique Aubusson tapestry pillows, antique Chinese export porcelain, Delft, Imari porcelain and inkwells.

family.com: What has lead to your success as an antique dealer?
PM: I think that due to our friendly environment, our excellent customer service and our eye toward the casual but elegant pieces that we think our customers like, we have been able to sustain a very loyal customer base.

Swan Antiques

At 727 Miami Circle you'll encounter Linda Swan's Swan Antiques, specializing in 18th- and 19th-century French furniture from the provinces. They also feature a wide selection of 19th- and early-20th-century French and English paintings.

family.com: How do you select the antiques to showcase in your gallery?
LS: We always have a shopping list that our managers have given to us. However, you always find something so special that you buy it even though it is not on your list. And that is what we look for – pieces that are so special that one will never see something like that again.

family.com: From the current selection in your store, what would you choose to decorate your own home?
LS: At present, I would choose a Louis XV bombé and galbé commode with a marble top, an 18th-century walnut armoire de marriage with heavy carving, and a Directoire demi-lune table.

family.com: How do you help your customers find just the right piece for their homes?
LS: We always remind them that scale is terribly important. If a painting or a piece of furniture is too large or small for a place in your house, then it will never feel right. However, once scale is right, we encourage them to choose something they really love.

family.com: Why did you choose French furniture as your store's specialty?
LS: We live a good part of the year in Provence, halfway between Avignon and Aix-en-Provence. Being in France has helped us to appreciate the differences in style from different regions of France, and we have learned a lot about understanding quality of craftsmanship. A big advantage to living in France is that we can shop on an ongoing basis, which helps us discover these "rare finds."

Michael Gibson Antiques and Design Inc.

Michael Gibson Antiques and Design Inc. specializes in 18th- and 19th-century English and Continental antiques and accessories, and fine reproductions.

family.com: What brought you to Miami Circle?
MG: I came to Atlanta 15 years ago from Nashville, Tenn., to help a friend open her new shop. My friend and I knew Atlanta was the commercial hub for the entire southeast. We selected Miami Circle as our location in Atlanta. At that time, we had not envisioned the thriving antique and design center Miami Circle was to become.

family.com: How did this lead to owning your own store?
MG: Carole Spry, my cousin, strongly encouraged me to open my own shop. So Carole became my partner, and we opened Michael Gibson Antiques and Design Inc. I am artistic but not very organized; that's where Carole takes up the slack.

family.com: Who are the typical customers shopping Miami Circle?
MG: Over 70 percent of our customers are from out of state. People fly in from California, New York and the entire southeast to make a day or two of great and convenient shopping on the half-mile cul-de-sac called Miami Circle.

family.com: What sets your antique store apart from the rest?
MG: Carole and I have continued the same concept I developed earlier for my friend's shop. We carry the very finest 18th- and 19th-century English, French and Continental antiques. Our bread and butter are the authentic, high-end but affordable reproductions I design. We truly believe we are creating the fine antiques for the next generation.

For more information on the antique dealers interviewed in this article, contact:

J. Tribble Antiques
764 Miami Circle, Suite 122
Atlanta, Georgia 30324
Phone: 404-846-1156
www.jtribbleantiques.com

The Gables Antiques
711 Miami Circle
Atlanta, Georgia 30324
Phone: 404-231-0734
www.thegablesantiques.com

Swan Antiques
727 Miami Circle
Atlanta, Georgia 30324
Phone: 404-261-4895
www.swanantiques.net

Michael Gibson Antiques and Design Inc.
631 Miami Circle, Suite 14
Atlanta, GA 30324
Phone: 404-261-7161
www.atlantaantiquedealers.com/gibson

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