For the past 27 years, Paul's Old Wares in Corrimal has been an Aladdin’s Cave of vintage treasures, run by local couple Paul and Ann Azzopardi.
Many locals would have driven past the deceptively sized shop, sitting proudly in place on the corner of Angel Street.
The once full, quirky shop now stands bare and alone at its iconic location on the highway after it closed down last month.
The couple this week looked back over the past quarter of a century and they've seen the lot - convict-made furniture, vintage glass, rickshaws, mining equipment, gadgets and gizmos aplenty.
As they tell their stories, the two can’t help chuckling over memories and finishing each other’s sentences.
“We’ve sold everything, from old wagon wheels to a, uh, a ‘refractometer’,” said Ann.
“Don’t do it.” said Paul.
“It’s a little, gizmo, gadget thing – ”
“ – it looks like a space gadget. Go on.”
“And it measures the density of, of urine.”
“I told you not to say it! I don’t know what’s going on there.”
Mr Azzopardi developed his love of old things growing up in Devon, England, where he was surrounded by antique markets, auctions, and pubs full of Tudor furniture.
“I started with collecting pennies when I was little. Old things always fascinated me.”
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In 1991, the couple began renting 313 Princes Highway and set up their antiques shop, as well as a book exchange in Thirroul.
They eventually downsized, focusing their efforts on the place at Corrimal, with Mr Azzopardi running the shop for the first 25 years. Ms Azzopardi then took over, but only after she was prevented from working in aged care after a traffic run-in with a Rabbi and a shoulder injury from an elderly man.
“He keeps saying he’s had the shop for 25 years, and then I’ve had it for two and closed it down!” joked Ms Azzopardi.
Ms Azzopardi says they will be keeping their online store, and will be launching a new version of the website next week.
“Part of the reason is that we’re getting too old to move the heavy furniture. Now we can go travelling to source pieces and hopefully we’ll be able to start an auction.” she said.
The shop itself began life as a green grocer in the 1930s. It also had a stint as an art supply shop.
“People have said ‘you can’t close, you’re an icon!’, which is nice.” said Ms Azzopardi.
“Retirement is not in my vocabulary. It’s a new direction. It’s the next chapter in my life. I just feel really positive about it.”
Visit the online store at http://www.paulsoldwares.com.au/