Saltwater Portrait

Antiques guru brings life to Milton

Kathryn Greig keeps busy by giving back to the town she loves
Kathryn Greig, co-owner of Antiques in Milton, stands in her Union Street store. Greig has been selling antiques for about 35 years. BY NICK ROTH
February 21, 2012

Since moving to Milton full time in 2002, Kathryn Greig has made a point to try as many different hats as possible, whether it's her day job as a co-owner of Antiques in Milton or her free time gardening at her home and with the Milton Garden Club. She also volunteers with the Milton Historical Society, the town's parks and recreation committee and her own startup downtown business organization. She was even on the board of the Milton Farmers Market last year.

“I asked to resign because I was just involved with too much, and that had gotten off to a good start,” she said.

Most days, Greig can be found behind the counter of Antiques in Milton on Union Street, where interacts with the long-time Miltonians and with the passers-by in town for the day. Sussex County, and Milton in particular, is a hot spot for antiques, she said.

“I think it's because of all the tourists who come here,” she said.

Greig is technically co-owner of Antiques in Milton on Union Street, but she is quick to point out her reluctance in accepting the title. Her son, Matt, bought the business from the previous owner in 2005, but is working toward a master's degree in political science at American University in Washington, D.C. He also has a part-time job with the university that will take him to Brussels, Belgium, in June.

“He calls me the co-owner, but I still let him make all the major decisions,” she said. “He built the business, and I just feel that he should make the decisions, although I'm the one doing the work.”

Antiques in Milton conglomerates about 35 antique dealers who rent space in the store each month. Greig said it's a common misconception that she takes items on consignment, but that's not the case.

“We don't take consignment because sometimes people use that as a storage area because they're not out anything if it doesn't sell,” she said.

A walk through the store takes customers all the way to the back of the building abutting the Broadkill River and up to a second floor. With a variety of dealers present in the shop, Greig said, there's a great selection for customers.

Antiques have been a part of Greig's life for a long time. It all started with auctions; she remembers taking her son Matt, now 31, when he was 6 years old.

“I was hooked on going to auctions and buying too much,” she said. “I finally had to start selling.”

She started with selling items at shows on the weekends about 35 years ago while working as a teacher. When she retired from teaching, antiques took her full-time attention.

After living in Charlottesville, Va., the Greig family moved to York, Pa. It was in York where Greig finally opened her own shop. But when her husband, Dick, retired, the couple saw Milton as a perfect place to enjoy their retirement.

“I'm a small-town girl, and I really like the small-town charm of Milton,” she said. “I think the people are very, very friendly; they're helpful.”

Shortly after moving to town full time, she said, three different people offered to give her a ride home as she was walking down Union Street with boxes of antiques.

“I didn't know them,” she said. “After living in a larger city like York, that's just phenomenal, and I find that's the way it is here.”

The town also provided an opportunity to live in a historic home. The Greigs lived in historic homes in Charlottesville and York, and really enjoyed the character and appeal. Her current residence, which dates back to 1790, took years of work before the family moved in. But the house wasn't what Greig thought had the most potential; that was its yard.

“It had this overgrown yard, but I could picture it as a lot of little gardens,” she said. “We don't have one blade of grass in our yard now; it's all gardens or patios or mulched areas where we have outdoor furniture.”

The yard has been featured on the Milton Garden Tour, and the home has been a stop on the Holiday House Tour.

When she's not on the antique trail, Greig is often in her yard pulling weeds and planting flowers or making the town a bit more picturesque as a member of the Milton Garden Club.

“[The club] has one purpose, and that is to make Milton beautiful with flowers,” she said.

The club maintains all of the town's flower beds as well as more than 50 planters. Milton has budgeted a small amount of money to keep the group afloat, but the garden club also hosts fundraisers throughout the year.

In the last year, Greig also created a brochure featuring the businesses of downtown Milton. Unofficially known as Downtown Merchants, business owners all chipped in to have hundreds of brochures printed and placed in area hotels and chambers of commerce. The brochure was so successful in its first year, she said, that more businesses wanted to be involved. The brochure doubled in size and will be available soon.

But her promotion of Milton doesn't stop there. She said she's trying to organize a Fourth of July celebration in Memorial Park this summer.

“Last year any number of people came in and asked if Milton was doing anything,” she said. “This year happens to fall on a Wednesday night, so there will be a concert in the park. I'm looking to have maybe a picnic before the concert and laser light show, something like that.”