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New Ipswich

Exception sought for antiques store

NEW IPSWICH — Antiquing has always been a hobby for Karen Haskett. Now, she hopes to take that love of finding hidden gems from long ago and make it into a home business.

Haskett, a New Ipswich resident, has always loved old things, she said in a phone interview Wednesday. In fact, age and its history was the thing that most attracted her to her home in the first place. The house, located at 374 Ashby Rd., was built in the late 1700s, and for generations belonged to the Putnam family of New Ipswich. But the two-story house was much too large for a single person, said Haskett, and she started to think about ways to use the lower floor of the house. A home business seemed to be a good solution, she said. And having long been on the trail of local treasures, an antiques shop seemed to be a perfect fit for her, she said.

“The idea just came to me,” she said. “The house was built in 1790 and that in itself lends itself to being an antique shop. The house provides a nice environment, since the house itself is an antique.”

Haskett said the venture will be a new one for her. She has some experience in retail from her 20s, she said, but she has never owned her own business. She’s made her living in human resources at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, creating pension plans. The antiquing will be a way for her to semi-retire, while using her personal hobby to create a living for herself, she said.

The home’s previous owners had a similar idea, said Haskett. While compiling information in order to seek a special exception from the town to run a commercial business from her home in the rural district, Haskett discovered that the previous owners of the property, the Hicks family, ran an antiques business from the home and barn in the 1990s. Not only will Haskett be carrying on that legacy, but she will also be acknowledging the house’s history, with the name of her new business: The Putnam House Antiques and Gifts.

Haskett hopes to open her shop by mid-October, after completing a special exception process, which she expects to conclude on Oct. 3, after meeting with the Zoning Board of Adjustment. After years of antiquing, she already has much of her stock selected and ready for sale, she said. Her hope is to create an environment in her shop that emulated everything she herself enjoys about visiting local antiques shops: A homey atmosphere, reasonable prices and a range in sizes and prices of things for sale.

“I’m just hoping to make it a pleasurable experience, and have things people would like to own, whether they be small gifts or furniture. I just want to make it a fun shopping place. There are these antiques shops that I’ve visited while being on the antiquing trail myself, places I know I’ll find something if I go. That’s the kind of place I want to be.”

Haskett will appear before the Zoning Board on Oct. 1 at 8:30 p.m. in a continuation of a public hearing for a special exception request for her antiques business.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @AshleySaari.

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