Known as one of the best antique shops in Dallas, Legacy Antiques has a massive selection of 18th- and 19th-century European antiques. They’re particularly renowned for their selection of antique chandeliers — hundreds of them — and glittering mirrors, which have made them a sought-after source throughout Texas and the rest of the country.
We spoke with Justin Garrett, owner of Legacy Antiques, about his family’s foundation in the industry, how he’s managed sourcing during the pandemic, and which types of pieces are moving these days. See what he had to say, and be sure to shop Legacy Antiques‘ assortment on Chairish.
First and foremost, how did Legacy Antiques get its start?
Legacy opened in 1997, though our family roots in the antique business go back to the 1950’s. My grandfather, the late Charles Wallace Clements, was one of the first importers of European antiques. He founded Clements Antiques in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and became the largest dealer in the South during the 70’s and 80’s with three locations totalling more than 150,000 square feet. All five of his children went into the business including my parents, who ran Clements of Texas for 25 years. They decided to open Legacy in 1997 in the heart of the Dallas Design District, and we are proudly approaching our 25-year anniversary.
You carry a wide range of 18th and 19th century European antiques. How did that take shape for you, and how do you manage your sourcing from Europe?
My grandfather ingrained in us many important business mottos. One of the most often repeated was “buy quality!” There always seems to be a demand for quality, regardless of style. That is not to say we don’t pay attention to trends — now, more than ever, we believe it is crucial to follow the trends. Many dealers with only one style of inventory find themselves “left in the dust” if and when their particular style falls out of favor. Thankfully, we have always enjoyed sourcing all types of merchandise. Over the decades, we have established a network of relationships and sources that are second to none, including many incredible European dealers. We also frequent the antiques fairs and shows throughout Europe.
You’re best known for your wide assortment of antique lighting, particularly chandeliers. How did these specialties develop?
I must give my parents the credit for this. In 1997, when they opened Legacy, they realized there was a shortage of fine antique lighting here in Dallas. They made it a point to search for great chandeliers and bought them every chance they had until the shop was packed. I believe it is our chandeliers that really set our shop apart and provide a great ambience. We now have over 300 hanging and we just hope the rafters hold up!
We also just launched our sister store, Dallas Fine Lighting, which is within our 15,000-square-foot building. DFL specializes in Murano glass chandeliers and sconces. Our designers love that we can make many of these fixtures in different colors and sizes, and our custom business is growing fast.
How was sourcing affected by the pandemic, and how did it affect business overall? Did you pivot the way you work as a result of changes in the industry over the last year and a half?
I feel terrible telling people this, but Covid has actually caused our business to explode. We are hearing this industry-wide from dealers and designers alike. Everyone seems to be “slammed.” But the pandemic has definitely presented many challenges too. Sourcing was very difficult in France and Italy in 2020, as there just wasn’t much activity, though things have opened up since. Probably the most difficult issue has been — and remains to be — shipping. In recent months, the cost to ship a container has more than doubled. Lead times are also much longer than usual. This seems to be industry wide and I believe we are all adjusting to this new normal.
Have you seen more customers coming through digital methods like Chairish? Do you see that having an effect on how designers shop for vintage, in particular?
Absolutely. Online sales account for about 30% of our overall numbers. Many designers now do nearly all of their sourcing online. There are pros and cons of course. Once again, shipping seems to be the biggest issue, and delivery times have gotten longer.
What types of pieces do you see moving these days? What are the patterns in terms of what’s selling right now?
It seems “mixing” is the trend of the day. Rarely do I have a customer or designer who is trying to fill their home with just one particular style. Our clients might place an 18th-century Biedermeier commode with a piece of modern art, a Chinese Rose Medallion bowl, and a Murano glass chandelier. The mix is truly fantastic in my opinion, but only the best of the best designers can pull it off. We are currently selling a little bit of everything. I buy a lot of pieces with the understanding that they probably won’t sell in Dallas, and that is okay. We like the diversity of digital and to be frank, it is fun to sell pieces to clients in Canada, Saudi Arabia, and all over the world.
Do you see any upcoming trends in terms of what’s next for the design world? What types of pieces do you hope to be stocking soon?
If only I had a crystal ball. My personal hunch is that mixing is here to stay. They say everything in the design world cycles, but things have changed a lot in the last 20 years. I think the days when a particular style would dominate for a decade are gone. As for us, we will continue to seek to buy quality and variety. It has worked for us for nearly 25 years, so as long as we are paying the bills, we will stick with the formula.
Also, I do believe that color has made a full comeback. Pieces that used to “stick out like a sore thumb” now seem to be the quickest to sell. I am particularly happy about this because it adds to the diversity of our shop. I love to buy something different and fun!
Are there any styles or trends you’d like to see disappear in the design world right now?
Not in particular. I have my favorites and a few not so favorites… but I wouldn’t disparage any of them. I was taught that “if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
Who are some of your favorite makers or designers, in terms of your own inspirations?
I have come to love Biedermeier furniture, in particular the best 18th-century commodes with the finest match grain veneers. To me, they are the Ferrari of antiques and make an incredible statement, though they also look fabulous in more modern settings. I am also a big fan of Maison Janson and Maison Bagues furniture and lighting. As far as current designers go, I would put many of our top Dallas designers up against the best in the world. I am always happy to make recommendations upon request!
Finally, what’s a dream piece you’d love to have yourself?
To be honest, I absolutely love searching for, curating, and selling great quality merchandise, but there is nothing in particular that I specifically dream of having in my home. The short answer is, whatever my wife likes! Happy wife, happy life.
All photos courtesy of Legacy Antiques