By: Fred Taylor
As seen in Antiques & Art Around Florida, Winter/Spring 2006
I look forward to the next phone call" says Jack Vinales. And if you want to talk to someone who really enjoys what they do and where they do it, spend some time with Jack in his shop, Jack Vinales Antiques at 539 Pineapple Ave. in downtown Sarasota. He says "Sarasota is like a little New York. So much is happening downtown."
Jack has dedicated his business to what he considers to be the best of the 20th century, dealing in designer sterling, Bakelite, Scandinavian and European art pottery, American art pottery and Art Deco. But his real interest is mid century modern furniture and design. Not the typical antiques dealer.
Jack was born and raised in nearby Tampa. His parents were among the talented few in the early 1950s who made Ybor City famous for its magnificent cigars. While attending Jefferson High School he found a part time job at the Holiday Inn on Dale Mabry as a busboy. He must have been an excellent busboy because he moved steadily through the ranks into a junior management position after high school graduation, attending the University of South Florida. Eventually senior management sent him to the Holiday Inn University in Olive Branch, MS, just across the state line from Memphis, for his hospitality industry education where he learned to be a Holiday Inn unit manager. Upon graduation he returned to Tampa and was the manager at the Dale Mabry facility for eighteen years.
Finally tiring of Tampa and the Dale Mabry scene Jack looked around for a place that suited him better. He ended up managing a hotel on Lido Beach in Sarasota as an introduction to the area while keeping his eye out for the things that really interested him - twentieth century art and artifacts. He started to notice that other people were buying the same kinds of things that he liked so he decided to cautiously take a step into the business as a dealer while maintaining a solid foothold in the hotel industry.
His first retail venture was back to Tampa with a booth at Central Station Antiques Mall. Emboldened by his success there he started participating in a few shows including Larry Engleís shows at Tampa Fairgrounds and some other shows in Orlando.
Finally, in 1991, it was time. In for a penny, in for a pound Jack opened a store in downtown Sarasota stocking it with items from his personal collection of art pottery, Art Deco and Arts and Crafts. His interest in art pottery is intense. He owns one of the few complete collections of Roseville Futura, a quest of many years. The Futura line, designed by Frank Ferrell, was made only in 1928 and Jack says that each piece is unique, representing the very best in Art Deco design. In 2001, Homestyle Magazine published a story about Jackís collection and the one piece of the entire collection that he was missing called "The Chinese Bronze". After the story came out Jack received a call from a lady in Texas who had the missing Bronze and would trade it for a set of truck tires. Jack didnít have an extra set of tires so he just sent her a money order and she sent the Bronze.
Gradually Jack has become focused on mid-century modern because that is what his customers are interested in. The Sarasota area has a large number of houses built in the 1950s in the styles of the period and many of these houses retain original furnishings. Jack helps those owners add to their collection. Many new buyers of these homes also want to furnish them with original material and Jack is happy to help them, offering them designs by George Nakashima, Herman Miller, Charles and Ray Eames and Heywood-Wakefield, among others. The mid century era is also beginning to appeal to a younger customer base. Jack says younger people come into the shop, "just looking" and their eyes light up when they see pieces from the period. Art Deco is also starting to appeal to a younger crowd.
For many dealers in the antiques trade, the acquisition of inventory is a constant struggle. Jack says that much of his inventory "just walks in the door" because of the close knit merchant association in Sarasota. Dealers in other styles and periods often refer potential buyers and sellers of mid century items to Jack and he does likewise, referring those customers with a preference for earlier periods to other shops. The system appears to work well.
On the subject of whatís hot and whatís not, Jack is pretty much non-committal. He is comfortable with his inventory mix and apparently his customers are too so that is considered hot. Whatís not is not an issue. Jack feels that if he likes something enough to buy it somebody else will too eventually.
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Fred and Gail Taylor's video, "IDENTIFICATION OF OLDER & ANTIQUE FURNITURE", ($29.95 includes S & H) is also available at the same address. For more information call (800) 387-6377, fax (352) 563-2916, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.