Folks keep pulling up in cars and handing him things.
“I want you to look at something, George,” a woman says, handing over a framed coin set.
George Laurence, 84, flips it over a couple of times, makes a few comments, declares it "definitely collectible" and hands it back. She thanks him and drives off.
“I call myself the man with no life,” he says, matter-of-factly. “But it’s the no life I love and I truly love doing this.”
If you know George at all, you know him as the proprietor of “The Eclectic Eye” antique business in Warwick. To jar your memory, it was located inside an old car dealership facing Railroad Green and was his business from 2000 to 2015.
He sold it and the name four years ago and opened “That Place at The Onion” with his daughter, Alexis, soon afterwards but he has plans to open a new “Eclectic Eye” in Florida, N.Y., in October.
“It’ll be called “Eclectic Eye” if I have anything to say about it,” he says, admitting that he is unsure if he can reclaim the name. “I used that name since the 1970’s. I like it because to me it meant organized chaos and selling unique items.”
But did you know that before becoming an expert in the antique field, he was a longtime social worker for the City of New York? Yup, George graduated from the City College of New York in 1956 and worked in the court system until taking a buyout in 1994.
“My hobby, beginning in the late 1960’s, was collecting antiques,” he says. “I had some really nice things at my apartment back then and a friend said: ‘Have you ever thought about selling this stuff?’’
George took an ad in a local newspaper, sold some items his first weekend, and was in business.
“All the while I was working in the court system, I was selling antiques in the Hamptons,” he says.
George moved to Warwick in 1991, three years before he officially retired, and set up shop. At first, “Eclectic Eye” was in the Clocktower building and when a spot opened in the old Warwick Auto space he jumped at it.
So, what is his secret to success in this, his second career?
“The typical buyer today is between 25-45 years old and they are looking for odds and ends to make their home look nice in a minimalist way,” George says. “Nobody wants anything heavy, certainly nothing that has to be lifted by two people.”
“I try to find unique items that put smiles on people’s faces,” he says. “Something they would enjoy.”
“You go online and you find things of dubious content and you can’t negotiate the price,” he says. “Is it bronze, is it brass, is it plastic? I can’t tell and you can’t tell. There are so many fake things online.”
“I love that people can come here, browse around, pick stuff up, find something they like and then negotiate with me because I love to negotiate,” he says. “And nothing ever gets locked away in drawers. It’s all over the place – up and down and on shelves and over there - it’s organized chaos.”
“There’s not a lot of businesses left that can put smiles on people’s faces and this is one of them,” he says. “You could spend hours searching around in here and leave with something that reminds you of your grandmother and you can enjoy it.”
“Plus, I know just enough to know that I don’t know enough,” he says.
John DeSanto is a freelance photojournalist. Find more of his 845LIFE stories, photos and videos at recordonline.com. Reach John at email@example.com