Journey to the Past at Timeline Antiques

By Bill Forrester

imeline Antiques & Collectibles is more than a store. It’s a time machine. No flux capacitor needed. The shop is filled with beautiful furniture, ornate glassware, comic books, toys, records, and other knickknacks that will take you back to the good ol’ days, whenever that was for you. Before you know it, you’ll think to yourself, “Everything old is…, well, it’s still old, but it’s cool!” That’s just the way owner Brian Gray thinks it should be. “There’s no doubt that there was a craftsmanship, a better material aspect of older merchandise that does not exist today, or is cost prohibitive,” Gray said.

Gray’s father opened Timeline Antiques in 2002. When his father died in 2013, Gray took over the operation of the multi-vendor mall. Individual vendors rent space inside Timeline Antiques to sell their merchandise, and each vendor is responsible for stocking their areas of the store. Gray handles the sales side of the business and ensures each vendor is paid for their sales each month.

Gray said that arrangement works well for all parties involved. “They have a passion for the hunt,” he said. “I don’t. I like the sales. I don’t want to go out and find stuff. I like standing behind this counter and talking to you.”

Gray said he has noticed through the years one common thread among the antique dealers he works with. “It started with them wanting to collect something for themselves,” he said. “So you have your example of what you like, and then you find a better one. So what do you do? You sell it off. You take that and you put it in a constant loop, and all of a sudden you have a storage building. And that storage building is full. And you are steadily cycling inventory in and out until you eventually reach a place where you need a store front to sell it.”

Timeline Antiques’ unofficial slogan is painted on a sign near the cash register: “Victorian to modern to everything in between.” That variety is part of the store’s success.  

“We have embraced the collectibles side of it, like Star Wars figurines,” Gray said. “We have embraced the farmhouse side of it when the craze was painting furniture. We went through the five-year long craze of architectural salvage. We went with all of those ups and downs. That has been what has kept us afloat when others didn’t make it, the going with the flow.”

That flow has brought a number of interesting items through the doors. “I have seen Louis Vuitton steamer trunks from the 1870s,” he said. “I have seen jade dragons. A Strong Cannon that was used to signal on a yacht. Toys I played with as a kid that are still in the box. Probably a dozen times a year, something truly amazing comes through here.”

And when customers discover something they think is truly amazing, Gray has a simple piece of advice. “Better pick it up now. It’s not going to be here tomorrow,” he said.

When Gray took over the store, he came in with the idea he was taking over a business. But there is an element of Timeline Antiques that caught him off guard. “When I took over, they called it the ‘Timeline family,’” he said. “I came in with a very business-like approach, and I maintain it. But it didn’t take long to understand that when you are immersed in this level of intimacy, it really does become like a family.”

Timeline Antiques & Collectibles is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 3323 Line Ave. in Shreveport.

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