Historic treasures nest in Bird House Antiques
Published: Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 02:10
An Oxford resident’s passion helped make Miami University history tangible at The Bird House Antique Store, located 114 W High St.
The owner of the store, Bertha Wespiser, has always had a passion for antiques.
“I was just always interested in the older things that nobody wanted, and I thought, ‘There has to be a use for these,’ so I thought, ‘I’ll just open a shop,’” Wespiser said.
With a little history of its own, the store opened its doors to Oxford in 1973, as Wespiser’s excitement for antiques grew when her aunts and grandmother showed interest.
Today she brings in items from various other people, auctions, flea markets and shops. She also occasionally travels to collect antiques from different parts of the world, according to Wespiser.
“People call when they have something for sale, they come in, they bring things in to see if I want to buy them,” Wespiser said.
She also said she does house calls in which she goes to a person’s home to see what antiques they have to offer.
“We have things from 18th century to the 21st century,” she said.
Wespiser has found a number of artifacts and stick figures from different Chinese dynasties while she was in an antique store in Hong Kong. Even though she ended up selling them all, she is always on the look out for others.
“They were from the tang dynasty, they were hundreds of years old,” Wespiser said. “They were things that have been excavated.”
Wespiser also adapts her store to the changing times, not limiting her merchandise to antiques.
“You have to change with the time, if I were just a store now that just had antiques and nothing more I probably would be out of business,” Wespiser said.
The store sells things like jewelry, holiday gift items, books, pictures and even furniture, just to name a few.
“Well I have gift items, inexpensive things,” Wespiser said. “Things that people can pick up; impulse things.”
Wespiser said she loves to stock up on is Miami memorabilia.
“I like to collect especially Redskin things because that’s no longer their name,” Wespiser said.
She said she likes to get her hands on any Redskin articles such as clothing, blankets, old programs, pictures and even John Ruthven paintings. Even though his paintings are limited edition, Wespiser said she tries her best to keep them in stock.
Wespiser said she also sells Miami silverware and jewelry.
Jane Ritter, who has been working at the store for twenty years, said they have a dedicated section for Miami’s antiques and collectibles.
“Whenever we find anything, we get it because there are a lot of people who are interested, especially the redskins,” Ritter said.
Wespier said keeping a variety of things helps her have a strong customer base.
Those who frequently visit her store include young people who have just started collecting antiques, college students, collectors and dealers who have something to sell.
Wespiser’s affection for antiques has made the antique store last so many years.
“It’s a passion, you just have to love it, I think that’s the main ingredient,” Wespiser said.
Ritter said she agrees and said she has enjoyed working at the store for two decades now.
“I like antiques and collectibles and I think it’s a good combination,” Ritter said.
Miami senior Sarah Brown said she has a different take on antiques.
“I think that the students don’t appreciate antiques as much as the townies do,” Brown said. “It’s like students tend to buy things that are necessities and maybe like older people tend to buy antiques as decorations.”