Alexandria is known for its history and its place in American history. From a pre-Revolutionary War seaport, through the Civil War, as a major shipyard in World War I, and right up to current events, American history and Alexandria have been and are interlocked.
There is another element of history that is also an integral part of Alexandria — its many antique shops, which allow residents and visitors alike to own pieces of both American and world history.
Most of those are clustered along or just off the King Street corridor. But one of the longest operating shops is located well outside that cluster.
And it's not alone.
There are shops along Washington Street, both north and south, in the West End, in Del Ray, and tucked away is various nooks and crannies throughout the city.
Washington Square Antiques, 689 S. Washington St., has been owned and operated by Emma Sigety since the mid 1970s. It has been in its present location since 1980. Prior to that it occupied two other locations on South Washington Street.
In 2001, a second shop was opened by Todd W. Sigety, son of Emma and Ernest Sigety, at 425 S. Washington St.
Known as WSA Appraisals, Todd not only buys and sells antiques but he does antique and residential content appraisals.
"Right now, the antique business is off somewhat from what it has been traditionally in this area. Some of that may be due to summer but I think it can be attributed to the overall economy at the present time as well," Emma Sigety said.
HER LONG success she attributes primarily to offering quality, unusual items coupled with first rate service.
"We have done very little advertising over the years. Most of our success is due to word of mouth from one customer to another," she said.
"We specialize in furniture primarily of the 18th and 19th centuries. We do have some early 20th century pieces. And, we also offer many individual antique items as well," she said. Some of those include works of art, dishes, candelabra, silver, and many other pieces.
Originally operated by both she and her husband, Ernest is now fully retired, according to Emma. "Although he does go to the shows. I think his main interest is finding pieces of art for his own American art collection," she said.
It wasn't until five years ago that Emma and Ernest even participated in shows. "After Todd joined us in the business we started doing shows. However, we only do four a year," she said.
Those are Alexandria, Chevy Chase, Annapolis, and Hunt Valley — all three of the latter are in Maryland.
"Shows are both a good means of advertising and a way to keep in touch with the market — both from the point of view as to what is available and what people are seeking," Sigety explained.
"Occasionally we go to shows strictly as observers and potential buyers to get a feel for what's going on and to pick up on any changes in the market. That's were Ernest helps with the buying, and not just for his art collection," she said.
"Selling at shows is hard work and we couldn't do it if it weren't for Todd. First you have to load everything, unload it, set it up, then break it down, reload it and bring it home. That's a lot of work after all these years," Sigety said.
THE SHOP is open Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Right now it is closed for two weeks vacation. "We used to close for all of August but now only for two weeks," she said.
Information is available at www.washingtonsquareantiques.com. The email address is firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 703-836-0803. WSA Appraisals can be reached at 703-836-1020 or online at www.wsaappraisals.com.