Walking into Second Treasures MV is like walking into a museum that you have to go back to again and again to take in everything you see. There are designer handbags and vintage clothing next to antique furniture and handcrafted jewelry. You’ll find artwork by some of the Island’s most popular artists, Eastern European icon paintings, and antique swords from the 1800s. And tending all of those antiques and collectibles is Second Treasures owner John Hill, always friendly and eager to talk about all the pieces inside.
“Meeting new people and learning new things, plus my regular customers, those are the things I like best about doing this,” Hill says. “I’ve always been in customer service in one way or another, and for me, it’s all about the people.”
You might remember Hill from working at Island restaurants, or from the Featherstone Fine Art and Flea Market in the summertime. He grew up in Northern Virginia, outside of Washington, D.C., and has lived all over the world before settling full-time on the Island 14 years ago. His family has spent summers here for years. “My parents and grandparents were art and antique collectors,” Hill explains. “I don’t like new things, I love old things.”
He decided with some friends and family to open his shop about a month before COVID hit. They planned to open in February, but the pandemic came around in March. “My friends bailed, and now I’m pretty much a one-man operation. But when you love what you do, that’s OK.”
As well as running Second Treasures, Hill handles estate sales, and works with decorators and designers, sometimes even filmmakers looking for props.
“I really like working with decorators and designers,” he says. “I keep a book of what people are looking for, or I can hook them up with someone I know who might have what they need. I try to pay it forward.”
Second Treasures is chock-full of just about anything you can think of. Hill does evaluations on estates and then brings what he thinks he can sell to the shop, basically hosting the sale in his store. “I’m always willing to look at original and unique items for purchase or consignment,” Hill says.
As you wander around, it’s easy to get distracted by the colors of Depression-era glass, paintings by Island-connected artists Claudio Gasparini, Traeger di Pietro, and Dick Iacovello, or a bust made entirely from clamshells created by jewelery maker Jamie Weeks.
Hill said he had a lifelong passion for all things antiquated, and 20 or 30 years ago when he was living in Louisville, Ky., he received his certification from the Missouri Auction School, cited as the oldest and largest auction school in the world.
It’s hard for him to find any single object that strikes his fancy the most, but he did just recently sell a 1903 Tiffany Studios octopus inkwell and pen stand.
“That was probably one of the most original items,” Hill says. “Smaller furniture pieces and art are the most popular things in the store.”
While he is open year-round, closed only on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, Hill says he does get more traffic through the doors in summer. If you ask him what he enjoys most, though, he’ll say his regular customers. Those who walk through the door anytime to talk about all the treasures inside.
“I do love it,” he says. “It’s called Second Treasures because there is literally something here for everyone.”
Second Treasures MV, 61 Beach Road, Vineyard Haven, 850-293-4345; secondtreasuresmv.com.