Milford antique market named historical building

MILFORD – Milford Market Antiques, located at 22 Clinton St., was recently named an historical building by the Milford Historical Society.

Milford Market Antiques owner Cindy Rutledge said she contacted the society asking if they had any information on her building, which she purchased in July 2018.

“A gentleman there did all this research for me,” she said. “He gave me a plastic notebook with pictures and whatnot of what he found. He said they wanted to present me with a plaque, so I gave them a donation and they gave me a plaque for my building.”

Rutledge said the building from 1912 was the former home to the Quaker Shoe Factory, which originated in Weare.

“There was just one picture that I found of this building,” she shared.

“And the historical society told me that this building was actually built for the Quaker Shoe Company. We’re not even a shoe area, so I was surprised by the find.”

Between 1915 and today, numerous businesses were located at the 22 Clinton Street address. In 1918, Milford Consolidated Co. used the building to make uniforms for World War I. In the 1920’s and 1930’s, a number of companies made clothing such as overalls, khaki pants, aprons, baby clothing, sweaters, and women’s blouses. In the 1940’s, it was home to the Monadnock Carpet Co., which supplied big city hotels with narrow hallway and staircase carpets. The building was owned and used by Williams & Hussey and OK Took Co. during the 1950’s and 1960’s. From 1972 until 1987, the building was again used for making clothing, home to Clinton Manufacturing, who made women’s pants. Between 1987 and 1989 it was the Electronics Surplus Warehouse.

Most recently, the building was home to Dad’s Archery.

In Feb. 2020, Rutledge opened the second floor of her antique gallery, just in time to face the COVID-19 pandemic. Like other businesses, her doors were closed through May 2020, when the governor allowed businesses to reopen.

“It was very frustrating,” she said. “Especially knowing I had put this money into opening the second floor and then couldn’t really be profitable.”

Social distancing itself isn’t a huge challenge at Rutledge’s shop, since the building has a large footprint and is very spacious.

“Everybody did social distance and had to wear a mask when they came in,” she said. “But I’ll tell you, everyone that came in was fabulous, from the vendors to the shoppers. People were really great.”

Picasso once said, “Everything you imagine can be real,” and Rutledge got inspired. Coming into the shop Thursdays through Sundays during the time she was closed, she began posting her vendors’ items on Instagram and Facebook and allowed people to message her if they were interested in looking at and hopefully buying an item.

“I would bring the items out to the porch and let the customer look at them,” she said. “If they didn’t want to buy it, I’d bring it back in. And if they wanted to buy it, they could call me with a credit card. So, that’s what I tried to do for our dealers.”

Rutledge gushed when talking about the quality vendors she has at her marketplace.

“I really can’t say enough about them,” she said. “The pride in what they take, what they sell and the amount of work they do to make their spaces look great is what makes this shop successful. It’s not me. It’s them.”

The mutual support helps Milford Market Antiques be a success, and in turn, Rutledge said there is great support among all the dealers and antique shop owners in the Milford area.

“I think everybody, all the shop owners in our area are supportive of each other,” she said. “I really think they do that because, Milford, Amherst, even getting up into the Peterborough area, I think we’re all enough of a tight-knit group. We all want each other to survive and to thrive.”

Rutledge said that even if she doesn’t have exactly what a shopper is looking for in her shop, she’ll recommend they try someone else in the area.

“If I can’t help them, I’ll send them to Off the Oval, Serendipity, Junction 71 or any of the consignment areas. I’ll send them anywhere I possibly can. I’ll even send them up to the N.H. Co-op. I mean, we all work together in order to help the customer.”

Rutledge’s good name and willingness to offer assistance doesn’t end there; recently, she offered space to the Humane Society for Greater Nashua.

“They weren’t able to have their annual yard sale,” she said. “A vendor, Diane Walton, approached me and I said that I would like to offer a space to the Humane Society, free of charge.”

Whatever they sold, they received a check from Rutledge for 100 percent. She took no commission during the sale from October through January. The Humane Society’s goal was $5,000, but fell short. Rutledge picked up the slack, cutting them a check for $778, which the community found remarkable, considering that Rutledge herself was recovering from an off-year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I think that there are a lot of people out there who will put forth,” she said. “I just happened to have the opportunity to do that. And if it means saving the life of an animal, absolutely.”