Horsefeathers Architectural Antiques and Hollywood Hank’s, an emporium whose sheer variety of inventory – from vintage memorabilia and pop-culture artifacts to mid-century furniture and antiques and hunting and fishing gear – is unparalleled in Buffalo, is closing its doors on Dec. 31.
It’s just time to pack it in, said owner Hank Sontag.
“I need to do this. I turned 70, and gave up a lot of time in my life because of the business,” Sontag said. “A lot of things slid by, so it’s just time. “I don’t have a bucket list, I have a barrel list, and I need the time to start doing them.”
Sontag said he also no longer has the desire or energy to travel and set up at the large number of trade shows that are an important part of the business.
Horsefeathers moved into its two-story home at 37 Chandler St. in Black Rock in June 2008. It shares space with Coo Coo U, which specializes in mid-century furniture and will remain in operation.
A stroll through the store reveals vintage Kittinger furniture, large crystal chandeliers, billboards that appeared on the stadium outfield wall for the movie “The Natural,” and mid-20th century advertising posters in mint condition.
There are also classic Coca-Cola machines, a barber-shop pole, rare circus posters, Victorian statuary, hard-to-find architectural pieces, boat motors and a collection of rifles.
Horsefeathers was originally located at 346 Connecticut St., where Sontag stuffed six floors with inventory. After being a fixture there for nearly 20 years, Sontag sold the property to developer and architect Karl Frizlen, who transformed it into Horsefeathers Market & Residences.
Over the years, Sontag and his family also have put woodworking, plastering and framing skills to work to repair and restore items on site.
Restaurants and movies have been among Horsefeathers’ niche clients.
Dinosaur Bar-B-Que on Franklin Street, Allen Burger Venture on Allen Street and the Blue Monk on Elmwood Avenue are a few of the many restaurants Horsefeathers has furnished.
Movie productions from the current “Crimson Peak” to “Hairspray,” “Cinderella Man” and “Snake Eyes” have rented and bought items.
“I was going to buy the props back from ‘Cinderella Man,’ but Russell Crowe kept them for himself,” Sontag said.
With the business winding down, store hours will be expanded an extra day after Thanksgiving, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Sontag said he will see customers in 2016 by appointment only, until a series of auctions succeeds in liquidating the store’s extensive inventory. For more information, call 523-8304 or 523-8331.
“We want to give our past customers the opportunity first to buy a piece of Buffalo history, and will mark down most of the items from 25 to 50 percent,” Sontag said.
He plans to give a significant amount of the proceeds to the community.
“With those sales and auctions, we intend on donating 25 percent of the gross to local charities and organizations,” Sontag said.
He has considered getting out of the business for years. But in May, Sontag signed an agreement with his wife, Cindy, and sons Kurt, Garrett and Henry, promising to close at the end of the year and liquidate the business.
It wasn’t an easy decision.
“When it hits me, it’s going to be bad,” said Sontag, who has called the business “addictive.”
But he doesn’t plan on severing all connections.
“I want to continue to do industrial furniture, and design restaurants on a limited basis,” Sontag said. “That’s my therapy.”