HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- The owner of the Lakeside's 'Vintage Glass and Pottery' shop says that everything in his shop has a story.
“I don’t think you could find another place like this," Don Bottoms said. "I got the bug. There is a story to just about everything in here.”
One peek inside his store on Lakeside Avenue and it becomes clear that Bottoms works in a fragile industry.
The shop boasts hundreds of thousands of pieces from the Depression to Disco days.
“I’m so glad when we sell something because that means we can put something else out," Bottom said.
Every piece organized by date and designer, and the shop has sections upon sections for any and all needs.
“If one customer comes in looking for Waterford Crystal. We have one section for Waterford Crystal," says Don.
The 66-year-old said he got into the glass game late in life, explaining that he bought his first piece in 2000. Since then, Don has been scouring flea markets and estate sales to build his brittle empire.
“I’ve got a warehouse. Two leased garages and two houses full and storage unit," Bottom said.
His collection provides a colorful connection to the past while also helping customers cook their casserole.
Don's wife and business partner Diana said he pours his heart into every piece.
“Oh, this is his life. This is his passion. We kid and call it his addiction," Diana said.
He possesses a sharp eye and delicate touch. But Don admits he's no shrewd businessman.
“I’ve been here 13 years and I’ve never made any money at all," Don said, explaining that he isnt motivated by profit.
“I get a lot more people in here than I used to...I do it out of love.
To stay afloat, the former mining engineer spends his retirement and investments.
“I hear stories about young people who are clearing out the family home because they’re selling it fast and they have to put it in the dumpster. And it breaks my heart. It is all wanted by somebody," Don said, explaining that he feels a responsibility to protect unloved treasures.
“We’ve had people come in here looking for something for many years and have found it here. That is a good feeling.”
He may be the Amazon of vintage glass, but you won't find Don conducting business online. Instead, transactions are done the old fashioned way.
Long-time customer Lois Smith from Mechanicsville said that the shop is a staple for him and his family.
“My daughter has a certain pattern that she likes. This is the only place they can find it. And they have an abundance of it," Smith said.
Don Bottoms may not make the Forbes 500 anytime soon, but one thing is crystal clear: he's a business owner who looks at the world through rose colored glass.
“I try not to discard anything. I know there is someone out there who wants it," Don said. “Its more than just a store to me. Everything we do I do with a passion. It is a lot of work. But work that I enjoy.”
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