Invariably, when you get in a conversation about Albany with someone that grew up here, someone is bound to start a sentence with; “I remember when …” That was part of Ron Westbrook’s thinking when he opened up Good Old Days Antiques about four months ago.
Located at 202 W. Broad Ave. in the old Owens Sporting Goods location, the store is packed with interesting and eclectic items of all sorts. It is a literal trip down memory lane. Westbrook is no exception to the rule, saying, “I remember as a kid coming downtown and just making a day of it.”
This new venture is his way of recapturing some of that old magic, and making a concerted effort to bring life back into downtown Albany.
He admits it has been a slow start, but Westbrook says business is growing, and he fully expects to see foot traffic continue to build. Walking the rows of antique furniture, pictures and paintings, record albums, books, lamps, glassware, figurines, and all sorts of things, offers a chance to search out something you thought you’d lost forever: the past.
There is a story behind everything you come across, and Westbrook’s about how he came to be running an antique store is one for the telling, as well.
“It’s pretty much my wife’s fault,” Westbrook jokingly explained, “he’d go antiquing, and I’d just tag along.”
To make it interesting, he started looking for specific things. “First, it was pictures of bird dogs, then I started looking for mule drawn farm equipment” — both, things of his past. Before too long, Westbrook had quite a collection of stuff. The thousands of record albums upstairs at Good Old Days are his. “Yeah, she was all for me doing something with them,” said Westbrook.
But he was not always a collector of memories. He started his career as an accountant, then moved into real estate, which he still works in. He then opened up East Creek Outfitters, a hunting supply store. The name was a play on his own. Westbrook, East Creek — get it?
But the name Good Old Days Antiques, Westbrook does not take credit for. You might say he got it from “scratch”. More precisely, Shonda Escalante, the mascot “Scratch” for the now=defunct South Georgia Wildcats arena football team, was in the store as he was just getting started. When she heard Westbrook’s stories and fond memories of growing up here, she suggested it, and he liked it. “I joined her pep club,” he said.
Westbrook rents his shop from developer Peter Studl. One day Studl stopped in with a very unique, very heavy, bronze chair, with the styling of a giraffe. It has once been in Studl’s downtown eatery, Hubble’s. The chair was such an attention-getter that Westbrook had it sitting outside at the front door, along with some other items.
One afternoon, Westbrook pulled up and the chair was gone. He called the police. Someone had carried off his giraffe chair, which was no easy trick. The local media even showed up to do a story on the theft, when they saw the police report. Westbrook called Studl to break the sad news. He then learned that Good Old Days downtown neighbor, architect David Maschke, had the chair. Studl had come by, seen the chair outside, and put it in Maschke’s place for safekeeping.
Camilla is home for Westbrook, and he has East Creek locations in Seminole County and in Gadston County, Fla. Now with the business in Albany, Westbrook is always moving, but he seems to enjoy it. Working the front counter is Geraldine Brickhouse, and Westbrook says he could not do this without her.
There’s a good chance that you may not be sure what you are looking for when you arrive at Good Old Days Antiques, but you will know it when you see it.