• C.J. Maxwell

Ye Auld Curiosité Boutique in Hudson gets six-month reprieve


PHOTO BY JAMES PARRY

Originally slated to close October 1 to accommodate neighbouring construction, Frank Hicks’ Curiosité Boutique in Hudson has been granted a six-month extension.

Over 33 ago when he was what he describes as an ambitious, adventurous younger man well-fortified by a number of ice cold draft beers, Frank Hicks made a small joke concerning the recession Quebecers were then experiencing. When asked what kind of business would survive a severe recession he reportedly replied , “Why the second hand business, of course, you pay people for items they no longer want and sell them, at a much reduced price, to those that need them. The tougher the recession the better the business,” he reasoned. “It's just up my alley, it's idiot proof."

A good friend took him up on his suggestion and after an initial investment of $1000 each, and with absolutely no experience in the trade, they started up in business, hanging out a the proverbial shingle declaring their ‘Recession Boutique’ on Sherbrooke Street West in the Montreal borough of Notre Dame de Grace (NDG). “Since that time,” said Hicks, “I’ve sold millions of dollars of diversified goods, from the sublime to the exotic to the downright strange and bizarre and crossed paths with every personality type from thieves to thespians.”

Hicks’ buying excursions have brought him to the homes of television personalities, directors, movie stars, writers, poets, recording artists, and, he adds, “…butchers, bakers and candlestick makers.” He describes the experience as a colorful, educational, enriching and often hard and difficult ride but said he loved almost every minute of it. Hicks also credits his wife Marilyn Gauthier for standing by his side and offering encouragement during some of his buying and selling excursions, all humorously chronicled in his bestselling book Memoirs of an Antique Dealer. “I could and would never have done it without her and the fact that we are still close after all these years is a testament to her patience and the fact that I never leave loaded firearms within her easy reach.”

In the 32 years he’s been in business, Hicks has had three major advertised sales. The first was when he was closing his NDG store at the end of 2003 after 21 years in business and re-opening in Hudson in 2004. The second was when he was closing the Hudson store to enjoy, what he considered, a well-earned retirement.

“My retirement lasted all of three months during which time I wrote my classic literary masterpiece - at least in my eyes,” he said with a wink. “I then re-opened in an old Victorian coach house at 448B Main road Hudson and it’s from that location that I had, what I believed to be, my very last sale. I was informed by my landlord that my old coach house was being demolished in order to make room for a new condo development. History was being paved over to accommodate housing and parking spaces.”

Hicks’ last day in business was scheduled for September 30, as longtime customers strode in to take a last look around and pick up a memento of one of the many tchotchkes and treasures that filled the former coach house. However, due to unforeseen construction delays, his last day has seen a reprieve that will extend the store to March 31, 2016.

“My credibility is being stretched because of an announced closing sale that never seems to arrive,” Hicks joked. “As we are aware, all things and life itself come to an end and eventually so it will be with me and my store. Right now it’s just a question of who lasts the longest.”

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