Shawnee antique store to celebrate 33 years of business
In 1987, lifelong Shawnee resident Cynthia Hardin left the world of accounting to open an antique store with her mother, Betty Oliver, and will celebrate 33 years of business this December.
According to Hardin, she was born and raised in Shawnee, attended Shawnee schools before graduating from Oklahoma Baptist University and becoming an accountant and eventually opening Oliver Hardin Antiques.
“I’m a CPA and I had lost four jobs in that oil bust in the 1980s and so my dad had passed away and (my mother) was doing antique shows,” Hardin said. “I told her I’d help her.”
Hardin said she and her mother realized antique shows were not the best option and decided to open their own store in Shawnee.
“My husband (Dennis) and I had a rental piece of property and we had lost money on the rental so I said, ‘Why don’t mom and I just put in our antique shop.’ So we did,” Hardin said.
At first, Hardin said Dennis was not entirely on board with the store because he didn’t think it would make much money.
“He realized that people would appreciate antiques over the years,” Hardin said. “It’s an up and down cycle. You just got to buy right.”
For several years Hardin and her mother ran Oliver Hardin Antiques together until her mother’s passing in August of 1995.
Though her mother passed away, Hardin said she kept running the store and will continue to as long as she can.
The business owner said one of the best aspects of owning an antique shop is the different people she gets to meet on a daily basis.
“I enjoy the people. I really like to see people (and) talk to people. I’m interested in people,” Hardin said. “Where are they from? What are they looking for?”
In addition, Hardin said she loves seeing the variety of unique items customers purchase because she feels that says something about who they are.
Hardin said she never thought she’d own an antique store but she’s happy to be doing what she loves.
“I enjoy it because I enjoy antiques (and) I like people,” Hardin said.
A majority of customers from younger to older come to Oliver Hardin Antiques and Hardin said she actually gets most of her products from people in the community.
“I get a lot of them with people coming in saying that their mother, grandmother (or) aunt passed away and left them such and such,” Hardin said.
The antique dealer said she will go to the estate before people sell their items but she doesn't go to garage sales or auctions.
Hardin said she finds antiques fascinating because they give people a glimpse of the past and they last a long time.
“They’ve stood the test of time. Like on furniture. They are well made. They are real wood,” Hardin said. “They’re good quality. They’re unique.”
Hardin said antiques typically mingle well with modern items in a house and they’re great accents that make a home one of a kind.
“They give (a house) some personality,” Hardin said. “That’s what all of us want to be because we are individuals. You can express your own personal individual preferences.”
However, while Hardin loves her profession, she said it can be challenging to do the day-to-day work.
“(A challenge is) the book work and even though I am an accountant it’s still (hard) because if you’re going to do this right you need to know how much cost is in everything,” Hardin said.
The business owner said it feels good to know that her store has been in business for almost 33 years.
“I want my store to be fun. I’m not sad or anything like that. I just want it to be fun,” Hardin said.
In addition, Hardin said it’s fun and amazing to be a part of a community of other antique lovers who understand her passion for her profession.
“You need to have fun. I’m not saying it’s all fun and games but yet there’s people that are (fun),” Hardin said.
Through owning Oliver Hardin Antiques, Hardin said she is able to be herself and hopes to keep expressing that through her store as long as she can.
“I just appreciate the fact that the Lord has blessed me for the 33 years,” Hardin said.
She plans to celebrate Oliver Hardin Antiques’ thirty third anniversary in December 2020.
Oliver Hardin Antiques is located at 311 W. MacArthur Street in Shawnee and for more information people can call (405) 273-5060.