WEBSTER CITY - What began as a part-time job for a Webster City man in retirement is now a major antiques network spanning across the state.
Mike Constant created the Iowa Antique Network just over a year ago after returning to Iowa. Constant and his wife decided to come back to Webster City after living in Seattle for 30 years. While he was kept busy in retirement by working on his 133-year-old home, he was looking for something more.
"I needed something to get away from the hammer and the scraper, so I took this software that I had and adapted it to antiques because me and my wife are both into that," Constant said.
-Messenger photo by Jim Krajewski
Laurie Hagey, owner of Lily Grace on Central in Fort Dodge, was among the first members of the Iowa Antique Network created by Mike Constant of Webster City.
The Iowa Antique Network is a hub for people seeking antique, primitive, vintage and upcycled goods.
On the website, users can find dealers across the state of Iowa on an interactive Google map. Constant said Iowa natives and visitors from across the country plan road trips from dealer to dealer using the network that currently boasts 130 member dealers.
For those dealers, the Iowa Antique Network gives them access to a large base of clients.
Laurie Hagey is the owner of Lily Grace on Central in Fort Dodge. She loves antiques and upcycling old materials, such as cutting old suitcases in half and hanging them on the wall as a shelf. Her store was among the first listed on the network.
"One day, Mike came walking in and said, 'Have I got a deal for you,'" Hagey said. "It really was. The Iowa Antique Network has opened us up to a customer base we never could have gotten to on our own."
When Constant retired, he did so with 37 years of experience as a salesman. For him, the work of going from place to place and selling the concept of the network was really not that much work at all.
"One of the goals I had was to travel all the blacktop roads in Iowa in retirement. I just like to drive. So, this lent itself to that as I went through each town in Iowa and visit each antique store, junk store, flea market, and did everything all over the state," Constant said. "I don't consider it work. It's a heck of a lot more fun."
Constant said he expects the network will grow to 300 members in the near future as it adds restaurants, wineries and other fun places for people to stop as they road trip for antiques. He also expects the network to continue to grow after he eventually steps away from the project.
"Someday, when I get a bit older, I'll find somebody to take it over and put it in other states," Constant said.
Constant's website can be accessed at iowaantiquenetwork.com.