It makes all kind of sense to owner Jess Sturtevant to run Braden River Antiques out of space at 426 9th St. E. After all, the building dates to 1910, and is in the heart of the historic Town of Manatee.
His landlord works next door, Robert Pelot of Pelot’s Pharmacy, one of Bradenton’s oldest continually operating businesses.
The pharmacy has been owned by the Pelot family since 1894 and has been in the same location at 831 Manatee Ave. E. since 1939, Pelot said.
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“This is what I have done all my life,” said Sturtevant, 32, a member of the first graduating class of Lakewood Ranch High School. “I grew up in an antiques store in Bradenton and am the third generation of my family buying and selling antiques.”
The floor space, the walls and even the ceiling at Braden River Antiques are densely packed with items for sale, ranging from art work to porcelain figurines, lamps, comic books, vinyl records and old bicycles.
Also featured are items that don’t easily fit a category, other than “the unusual,” Sturtevant said.
One corner of the store even has studio space for Sturtevant’s friend, April Gladden, to work on her paintings.
I just really loved this building. It looks like the perfect spot for an antiques store.
“I just really loved this building. It looks like the perfect spot for an antiques store,” Sturtevant said.
When Sturtevant moved into the building, he took over space previously used by Pelot as a soda fountain.
“The cook hood was still here,” Sturtevant said.
Even in the antiques business, the only constant is change.
Years ago, mahogany and walnut furniture were popular.
“Today I can hardly give that stuff away, unless it’s the best of the best,” Sturtevant said. “Now people want the one-of-a-kind thing that they saw online. Good pairs of chairs and a good chandelier are always in demand. It seems that whenever I get a good chandelier, put it up, and turn on the electricity, someone comes in and wants it.”
Also popular: 1950s and 1960s art, furniture and objects that Sturtevant calls mid-century modern items.
In addition to foot traffic in his store, Sturtevant also sells online through eBay, Instagram and Facebook.
Another change in the business is that Sturtevant is beginning to see more younger customers. That may account for changing tastes in what consumers want in an antiques store.
April Gladden teaches at Manatee School for the Arts during the week and paints on Saturday at Braden River Antiques.
“It’s been a very stimulating environment and helps keep the creativity going,” Gladden said. “I have been able to focus and and get to meet people and let them see what I am doing.”