Antiquesmeet the internet

Published on Thu, Apr 29, 2004 by ack Kintner

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Antiques meet the internet

By Jack Kintner

Blaine’s newest store opens for business this Saturday as Deano Cloutier opens the door on a 6,600 square foot Boblett Street warehouse full of antiques from Asia, Africa and South America.
The store, called British Colonial, Inc., is intended to support eventual downtown locations in both Vancouver, B.C. and Bellevue as well as be a hub for marketing much of the merchandise over the internet.

When asked why Blaine was chosen as the location for such a large, up-scale operation, Cloutier said “because I grew up here!” The White Rock native has operated out of Blaine for 14 years. Six years ago he formed a company called ADC Marketing with partner Grant Brown, who still lives in B.C., which gave rise to the Magellan Group, a sourcing and product development enterprise that has been bringing buyers from high-end specialty kitchen shops to tour their Blaine showrooms in the Dockside Place on Marine Drive for six years.

“These are sophisticated, well-traveled and maybe somewhat jaded people but they love coming to Blaine, too,” Cloutier said, “like this one man from New York City who told me that even though he grew up on the Atlantic Ocean, the first time he actually smelled salt water was the first time he stayed at the ‘Moo (Semiahmoo Resort).”

“We bring them in for a three-day process in which we develop product ideas with buyers from such companies as Neiman-Marcus, Linens and Things, Kitchens Etc. and so on.”

Product manager Lynell Hildebrand, who was one of Cloutier’s first employees almost four years ago, said that most buyers ask if a given item can be produced in a different material or size, “and we go back to the factories and end up with a custom item made just for them at a price that works for them.”

“That way of doing business involves lots and lots of sample items,” she said, “which is why we’ve had these twice-yearly garage sales. The next one will be sometime in June.”

One of the latest innovations that Magellan offers is custom inlaid marble tabletops manufactured to the customer’s specification. Cloutier said he’s sold them to California wineries such as Beringer Brothers and Chateau St. Jean. “They make terrific wine tables with wrought iron legs supporting this marble counter top. The customer can order just about anything he or she wants,” Cloutier said.

Magellan focuses on household items manufactured in the far east, so Cloutier travels. A lot. “I’ve been around the world more times than I can remember, because once you’ve gone so far it’s just as easy to continue on around,” he said as if talking about negotiating city streets in Vancouver.

Cloutier said that he and his partner have been buying far eastern antiques since 2002 to stock their Blaine showroom and prepare for internet-based sales to hotels and commercial customers. “We’re after the interior design community here and in Seattle,” he said, “both of which are good customer bases for us, especially as Vancouver builds hotel space in anticipation of the 2010 Olympics.”

Cloutier admits to being related to Vancouver Canucks goalie Dan Cloutier. “Actually, anyone with that name is part of the family,” Cloutier laughed, “it’s huge.”

British Colonial Antiques opens its doors Saturday at noon at their warehouse site, 925 Boblett Street, across from Blaine primary school. Their phone number is 332-1575.