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Bottle Shop Antiques
June 24, 2024

Rare to Retro, Kevin de Martine Has It All
By ML Ball
Photos by Sabrina Eberhard

Few things in life are certain but one thing is undeniable: If you live anywhere near Millbrook, you know Kevin de Martine and Bottle Shop Antiques.

Located on Route 44 across from NY State Police Troop K, de Martine’s locally revered establishment might at first glance look like a sprawling indoor-outdoor emporium, kind of a permanent garage sale. But venture around the grounds and peruse the hundreds of thousands of items and you soon realize that this is not just a treasure trove of odds and ends and rare finds, but a throwback to a bygone era.

And, true to its name, it all started with a bottle. Actually, two. “In 1966, my cousin moved into my grandmother’s house, which was up a mile-long driveway near here,” de Martine explains. “We were both 12 years old and we liked to shoot off Estes model rockets. As we walked along her driveway, we kept passing this old foundation with two bottles next to it. We cleaned them up and took them to my aunt who collected early American pressed glass. She said, ‘Those bottles could be worth some money. You should wash up a couple boxes of them and take them to Mrs. DeGaris.’ Mrs. DeGaris had an antique shop in the old yellow church across the street, and she gave us $25 for our two boxes of bottles. Back in 1966, that was pretty good money, especially if you’re 12 years old and looking to buy more model rockets. The next morning, we dug up a couple more boxes of bottles but Mrs. DeGaris didn’t need any more, so we set up a picnic table in my front yard and made a sign that said ‘Antique bottles for sale.’ That summer, we sold about $150 worth of bottles.” A career was born.

Eventually the cousin lost interest and de Martine bought him out for $100. Since then, his inventory has expanded from just bottles to almost anything imaginable: sinks, sewing machines, wagon wheels, golf clubs, dishes, deer antlers, stone statues, wicker chairs, wine racks, and hanging candelabras. Where does de Martine find it all? “People bring it here,” he says. “And I go to auctions like Stormville and Elephant’s Trunk in New Milford, and flea markets and yard sales. Sometimes stuff is donated that I don’t want, and it costs me to get rid of it.”

Since his early 40s (more than two decades ago), this has been his only job. Says de Martine, “People ask me if I can make a living at it and I say, ‘Well, I put two kids through college.’”

From bargain hunters to millionaires, de Martine has seen them all. Over the years, noteworthy patrons have included Melissa Newman and her parents, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward; Mary Tyler Moore; Ric Ocasek; Bryant Gumbel; and Bebe Neuwirth.

“People stop in here from all over the world,” de Martine declares. “They drive by and see all this stuff I have out by the road. It’s my billboard.” And a good one!

Bottle Shop Antiques, 2552 Route 44, Millbrook