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McClatchy-Tribune  01/27/2014 2:03 AM ET
Richmond Times-Dispatch, Va., Randy Hallman column [Richmond Times-Dispatch, Va. :: ]

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Jan. 27--Long a conservator of antiques, F.C. "Rick" Vogt has added a second business to his operation.

At the beginning of the year, he began selling pieces at Southern Hands Antiques at 1833 W. Broad St. in Richmond, next to his F.C. Vogt Co. conservation shop.

"I had space I was using for storage," he said. "The last two years or so, clients kept asking me if I could sell things for them. So I thought about it and decided I could open a consignment shop in that space."

The 800-square-foot Southern Hands Antiques' inventory -- about 120 pieces at any one time -- fits Vogt's favorite category.

Nearly all of it, he said, dates from 1750 to 1850, and the vast majority was made in Virginia or North Carolina. He said those two states and that time period account for some of the antique market's most sought-after pieces.

And he's not selling furniture that merely looks like something from that era, he said.

"There are no reproductions," he said, "no factory-made pieces. They were all bench-made, almost all in rural Virginia or North Carolina -- a couple of things from the Northeast.

"I sell only on consignment, and I've assessed every piece," he said, "I know what's been replaced, repaired, refinished -- you can't find many pieces from that time period that haven't had some of that done to them -- and I tell the customers."

Vogt said that because he owns his building and has a relatively low overhead he can offer his pieces at "moderate prices -- nothing in here is over $10,000."

Vogt grew up in Cincinnati and attended the University of Cincinnati before taking a job that led him to Massachusetts. That's where he met Patty, his wife of nearly 35 years and the force behind the business side of their operation.

She also has an enduring interest in antiques that springs from her younger days growing up in Long Island, N.Y., where she was the first female to take her high school's wood and metal shop class.

"It was just what I wanted to do," she recalled. "I remember the teacher asking me to wait outside the door while he had a talk with the guys in the class, letting them know that they were going to have to watch their language and behavior.

"We never had any problems," she said. "I was serious about it, and that was all that mattered."

Rick Vogt has had his own antique conservation business since 1975. The couple moved to Richmond from the Northeast in 1985 and opened the conservation shop here. He owns the building -- including 1831 and 1833 W. Broad St. -- and has been at that location since 1997, he said.

In a quirky retail neighborhood, Vogt rented the 1833 W. Broad St. space to a variety of tenants. A bail bondsman leased the space for some time and a tattoo parlor had it for a while.

"Great tenants," he said, and then chuckled. "The clientele didn't always exactly match mine."

New Menchie's shop

Maybe one of the coldest months in recent memory isn't an ideal time to start a frozen yogurt shop.

But Jodie Brendlinger said she is having fun with the 1,300-square-foot Menchie's franchise she opened the first week of January in The Shops at White Oak Village in eastern Henrico County.

Besides providing great frozen yogurt, the company's website said Menchie's mission is to "make you smile," a fitting motto for Brendlinger, who was a dental hygienist before she started her own business.

Brendlinger said she especially liked the company's emphasis on an upbeat, positive atmosphere for franchisees, employees and customers.

"It's a friendly place," she said. "You look for certain kinds of team members -- like Disney. You look for a positive attitude, a nice smile, lots of energy."

In addition to the standard frozen yogurt in a wide range of flavors, Menchie's offers a no-sugar-added version of its product as well as non-dairy, kosher, low-carb and gluten-free frozen desserts.

Brendlinger didn't divulge her start-up costs, but the Menchie's website said the average cost of starting a franchise is $310,000.

The Richmond market is replete with frozen yogurt shops, with several national chains represented. The market is home field for Sweet Frog, the Chesterfield County-based chain that has 324 locations nationally, including 88 in Virginia and 17 in the Richmond area.

The Menchies chain, based in Los Angeles, has more than 350 locations worldwide, including two others in the Richmond area -- in Short Pump and Mechanicsville.

Mom's on her own

The Mom Complex, once part of The Martin Agency, is now an independent firm.

Katherine Wintsch, who founded the consultancy, has stepped out from under the Martin umbrella and early this month moved the consulting business to its own space in an airy 1,500-square-foot office upstairs at 3324 W. Cary St. in Carytown.

Launched in early 2011 as a division of Martin, the Mom Complex has done work for Walmart, Hasbro and Kraft, among others, helping clients understand mothers and create products, services and communications that connect with them.


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