Henrico Small Business Spotlight: RVA Antiques and Home Decor

RVA Antiques owners Dean Lewis and Larry Hardy (Courtesy RVA Antiques)

Voted one of the best antique shops in not only Metro Richmond, but in the state of Virginia, RVA Antiques and Home Decor in Lakeside is a small business that wants to redefine antique and vintage pieces. Owners Dean Lewis and Larry Hardy purchased the antique shop and helped ingrain it into the fabric of the local community, embodying the spirit of inclusivity and warmth while changing the narrative around antique shops around the state.

The journey of RVA Antiques is rooted in a shared passion for the timeless appeal of antiques. Hardy, a former principal in Hanover County, and Lewis, a former math teacher from the same area, both shared an interest in antique and vintage items. Their shared passion drew them to RVA Antiques, which was not only a well-known spot within the community but also a place for the two to unwind.

“We would often go to RVA Antiques and just kind of walk around. It was our therapy after a very busy day, and it was a way for me to kind of unwind,” Lewis said. After he retired from teaching, Lewis found his way back to RVA Antiques, spent more around the shop, helped the previous owner with staging and eventually began working at the shop. This transition eventually led him and Hardy to working to continue and grow the business after purchasing it.

“We always wanted to own a store but we were a little afraid,” Lewis said, “but after I retired, [the previous owner] asked me about buying the business, and I was like, wow, I just was so excited. So we made it happen.”

With a leap of faith, they embraced the opportunity to breathe new life into RVA Antiques.

RVA Antiques and Home Decor • rvaantiquesandhomedecor.com • (804) 716-4388

Lewis and Hardy’s mission is to continue to deliver genuine antique pieces and maintain RVA Antiques’ identity, while also leading its departure from the conventional antique shop stereotypes and redefining the narrative.

As Lewis put it, “We really wanted to break the paradigm of the word antiques.”

The business’s rebranding as RVA Antiques and Vintage Home Decor marked a shift towards inclusivity, offering a diverse range of treasures to suit every taste and budget, while also keeping a unique and clean presence.

“You’re going to find some antiques. You’re going to find vintage. You’re going to find new. You’re going find upcycled and repurposed. I don’t want to get junky, ever. Walking into the store, you could tell that it has a certain, I guess, panache or flair when you’re in the store,” Lewis said.

However, the path to success was not without its challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic posed unforeseen obstacles but also led to increased interest.

“Our shop exploded during COVID,” Lewis said, “mainly because we have such a huge Instagram presence.  And because many of our items were up for sale on Instagram, you can call the store and purchase.”

Social media orders grew during the pandemic, bringing RVA Antiques much success; however, people’s interest in making their homes a more fulfilling space leads to some challenges when trying to keep up inventory.

“I guess it was a challenge in the sense that we had trouble keeping up, honestly,” Lewis said. “We were so busy. people stuck at home and working from home, you know, they wanted to redecorate, reupholster, paint; they wanted to do all of this stuff. We really had to work a lot of hours to meet the expectations of everybody at that time.”

Beyond business, Lewis and Hardy remain deeply committed to giving back to the community that has embraced them.

“It’s not all about us making money,” Lewis said. “We think if you’re doing well, you should also share that with the community.”

The two also work to support Lakeside Elementary School schools to the Lakeside Youth Baseball programs, re-enforcing RVA Antiques as a pillar of support and goodwill to the community.

As Lewis mused on their journey, he underscored the importance of customer service, noting, “We speak to every single customer. And if we don’t get you coming in because we’re busy, we’re going to get you while on the floor or as you leave.”

This focus has proven to resonate with those who visit.

One customer shared, “RVA Antiques is a delight! The owners are so friendly and helpful, and they make all of their customers feel welcome, whether buying or just browsing. They are a Russian nesting doll of small businesses, as each booth is curated by an even smaller business owner. They have a wonderful assortment of goods, and it’s one of my favorite ways to spend 30 minutes, whether alone or with my husband.”

Effective customer service is something that’s maintained, Lewis said, showing the owners’ appreciation to those whether they are making a purchase or just browsing around the same way that Lewis and Hardy once did.

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