Stepping over the threshold into the low-ceiling wooden enclave of MM Antiques in West Tisbury, one can’t help but feel as though they’ve stumbled upon a comfortably familiar seance.
Well-worn edges of antique playing cards peek out from underneath a felt shamrock surface of a circular wooden poker table. A 200-year-old Windsor chair, petite and resolute, stands in the corner of the room next to a weathered yet well-kept caboose furnace doubling as a side table. Silver filigree door handles rest on the surface waiting expectantly, it appears, to be reunited with their wooden door frames.
And then from behind a handsomely made wooden eel trap, a clean-shaven man stands and raises his eyebrows. This is Michael Stone, owner of MM Antiques.
Similar to the items within, the antique shop has an enduring history on the Island. The store was founded in 1971 by Michael’s mother, Eve Stone.
“My family is originally from New Haven,” Mr. Stone says, gesturing at the framed newspaper clippings of himself and his mother from the New Haven Press. “I grew up working at Poole’s Fish Market.”
He points to the clipping and a gangly, smiling boy with a full head of hair, dangling his limbs from a dock. “That’s me at 14, fishing.”
Since its infancy, the store has been a family-run business, graduating from its original title, Antique Oddities, to Eve Stone and Son in 1985.
“In 1994 my mother passed down the antique shop to me and it became MM Antiques.”
Mr. Stone attributes the stability of his store to a fundamental rule. “We try to have a little bit of something for everybody. You want everybody to be able to walk away with something. There’s things in this store from $45 to $45,000.”
He points to a large framed advertisement hanging from the wooden panels to his right. “This is one of my favorite things right now. It’s an advertisement for travelling up the Hudson, so it appeals to the New York clientele we have on the Vineyard. It’s just a wonderful sort of advertisement from 1878.”
Mr. Stone steps back and does some mental sums. “So it’s almost 140 years old. That makes it pretty rare.”
The advertisement is priced at around $1,500.
“That’s another thing I make an effort to do,” Mr. Stone explains. “I try to price my items fairly. But then, I only buy things that people can use.”
He kneels down and lifts the lid of a hand-crank, metal cider press. “I don’t think my customers on the Vineyard really want precious items. You should be able to interact with them. That’s another thing . . . with antiques you have to smell them, feel the weight and see how well they’re made.”
Mr. Stone does design work and repairs within a myriad of mediums, including wood, stone and metal. MM Antiques is open every day from Memorial Day to Labor Day and on weekends until Christmas.
“This isn’t a hobby to me,” Mr. Stone says. “Your shop is like an evolving collection. It doesn’t spoil, it doesn’t go out of style. If you bought well it just gets more expensive. I mean it’s the kind of business you put time and effort in to buy, you put time and effort in to sell.” In essence it’s time that this store sells, encapsulated in pockets formed in the grooves of a well-made hat rack or an absurdly large rolling pin.