After a decade and a half operating as Potomac Antiques on River Road near the Potomac water filtration plant, Shirley Sardino was delighted to move her operation a few miles down the road and start doing business as Potomac Village Antiques.
“I’m glad I’m here,” she said.
Her son and business partner, Robert Sardino agreed. “We’re part of the village, part of the infrastructure,” he said. Robert Sardino had been a part-time partner, but recently gave up his “day job” with the government to concentrate on the family business full time.
“It had been a difficult decision to make, but this had always been my first passion,” he said.
So as he and his mother started their operation together, they moved the business to the circa 1815 farm house just down from the village on July 1.
“It just seems to be the ideal platform for an antique shop,” Robert Sardino said.
The Sardinos had lived abroad as a family while Robert Sardino was young and his father was working for the State Department.
Doing so allowed them to learn the language and culture of a variety of places, particularly several Asian countries.
“We’re really strong with regards to Asian pieces,” Robert Sardino said. “We were living abroad learning different cultures, speaking their language and going to their schools.”
The mother and son team operated stores in Milton and Lewes, Del., from 1987-1991. They also opened the store in the old location on River Road. The two each live in the area, and commuting to Delaware was wearing on them, so they concentrated on the local store. “We phased out the Delaware stores,” Robert Sardino said. “It just became more of a logistical hassle.”
Besides living abroad, the Sardinos developed their skills in appraising by working with such museums as the Smithsonian, Sackler and Metropolitan Museum of Art. “We were visiting museums and seeing what [the pieces] are supposed to look like,” Robert Sardino said.
When the two are unsure about a particular piece, they will contact museums and other experts for assistance. “I just don’t like to take any chances,” Robert Sardino said.
The store itself is divided into rooms featuring different antique dealers and different styles. “We were able to blend it and it works,” Robert Sardino said.
Although specializing in Asian antiques, the store also carries pieces in the American, Continental and Victorian styles.
The store carries goods at a variety of price points from very affordable to very expensive. “The idea is to give a little more variety,” Robert Sardino said.
The Sardinos are most excited about their work with DHS, an antique dealer based near Annapolis.
That fact seemed to impress some of the store’s customers. “I really like their affiliation with DHS,” said Potomac resident Arlene Hillerson. “I will be coming by.”
Hillerson is also glad to see a store like this open in Potomac. “We’re always having to go down to Georgetown,” Hillerson said. “We’ve been wondering for years why there isn’t something like this.”
Visitors to store were pleased to have an antique dealer close by. Danielle Lane owns a decorating business in Alexandria, Va. and works with some Potomac clients.
“It’s a much needed resource.”