ROCKLAND — Jeremiah Pasternak hadn’t been born when the chairs he sells were standard issue in schools, churches and libraries.

The 1960s and 1970s were a kind of golden age of furniture design, the 31-year-old asserts. As he shows off the ample stock of those chairs in Pasternak Antiques’ Main Street building, that argument gains traction, even though someone old enough to be his father might be tempted to see the collection as yard sale fodder.

The chairs reflect a nexus of form and function, Pasternak said. Designers like Herman Miller and Charles and Ray Eames seized the new plastic and Fiberglas materials that were developed for industrial uses in the World War II years and created those curvy, comfortable, stackable and very nearly indestructible seats that are very much of their time.

He’s not giving an academic lecture on the art of furniture design, though he did major in art history. Pasternak sells the chairs—and lots of other things—in such numbers that questions of taste and aesthetic are somewhat beside the point.

“We sent two shipping containers to Japan last month,” he said matter-of-factly. Europe is another regular destination, where “Americana” items are treasured.

“Not only is the aesthetic great,” he said of the chairs, “but it’s practical.”

Whether it’s a younger generation enamored of the Mad Men era they see on TV, or baby boomers nostalgic for their youth—probably both, Pasternak believes—the furniture is being purchased.

The chairs he sells are of the “designer” category, and not strictly utilitarian. He buys and sells them “as is.”

“I love the modern materials,” he said. “Fiberglas, plastic, bent plywood, tubular steel”¦ Three-hundred years from now, they’ll still be here.”

The late 1950s and early 1960s brought many Americans more disposable income, and they began buying furniture that made a statement.

“Things that now look normal were striking then,” he said.

Now, Pasternak wants to recycle that connection.

“It’s about taking it from someone who appreciated it when they bought it,” he said, then finding a buyer who also values it. “It’s the chair that [sold for] $1,000 in the ’60s that’s selling for $5,000 today. Every piece tells a story and speaks to a generation.”




Pasternak Antiques is a bit of an oddity on the city’s busy Main Street, which these days is dominated by eateries, pubs and art galleries, increasingly catering to professionals and tourists. The building occupies a corner at the northern terminus of the string of connected structures, diagonally across from the ferry terminal.

The front itself is classic mid-20th century brick and glass, and often, passersby can be seen peeking through the large doors and windows, where a life-sized Michael Jordan likeness stands near a Fiberglass mermaid, flanked by a dozen other curios. The store is rarely open, lending an air of mystery.

“We do 90 percent of our business online,” Pasternak explained. (See He buys most items on Craig’s List and sells on eBay.

Jeremiah’s father Jerry, who was sitting beside the business on a hot summer day, enjoying his 60th birthday, started the business. He’s been in the antiques biz for 45 years, he said, and has turned over the operation to his son, though he still collects and sells what Jeremiah calls “man cave” items, like jukeboxes and neon beer signs.

The building is for sale (see, Jeremiah explained, because the family lives in Florida for most of the year and in Hampton Falls, N.H. the rest of the time.

“Our roots are in New Hampshire and Massachusetts,” he said.

The Rockland building, whose 20th century shell wraps around a Baptist Church built circa 1830, serves as the business’s warehouse.

“We wanted to be near the coast,” and in an area where the arts were appreciated, he said, but the commute from New Hampshire has become a problem.

As the younger Pasternak begins a tour, we pass by racks of stained glass originally purchased by a man who planned on opening a store, but never did. Is stained glass a niche for the business?

“One of many,” he replied, with smile. “I specialize in mid-century furniture,” Pasternak said, but on a tour of the building, it’s clear there is so much more.

It’s not your typical Maine antique store, he readily admits. It is the biggest antique store devoted to mid-20th century items north of Boston. Yet visitors to Maine are not interested in antiques from that era, another reason for closing the Rockland warehouse and store.

“We like substantial objects,” Pasternak said, walking through the sprawl of furniture. “Everything that is a big, statement piece. Big, funky, unusual—that’s us.”

Jerry and Jeremiah had a two-year run on reality TV on a show called “Born Dealers,” that ran on the Discovery Channel in Canada and on Planet Green in the U.S. from 2010 to 2011. The networks sold, and the show was canceled, but the exposure created a large customer base.

Given the online nature of the business, the Pasternaks are ready to consolidate their base in New Hampshire and Florida, and so are ready to sell the Rockland building.

“We’d like someone to be able to do something really cool with it,” he said, “and be open to the public.” A restaurant might work, or offices, or a combination of both. In all, there are 25,000-square-feet of floor space, with the opportunity to add 5,000-square feet more over the old church space.