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The Hustle

Name: Keith Gilbert (Buster’s Antiques)

Posted By Gina Marks

Buster's Antiques is a home decor-focused antique shop in the heart of St. Pete's Warehouse Arts district. Not only is the shop named after Keith's pet Frenchie, it also pays homage to actor Buster Keaton. With upcycled pieces from all around the world, this shop's vintage pieces are truly one of a kind. The shop spends its time searching for furniture from around the world to bring to the city and its art-loving community. Devoted to making new custom pieces from old furniture and decor, it is a fun and unique face on the St. Pete business scene.

Years in Tampa Bay


Hustle (job)

Proprietor, Buster’s Antiques

What do you do?  

The goal of Buster’s is to create a fun environment and to offer a variety of items and services that will appeal to a diverse clientele. We sell vintage furniture and decorative items, offer advice and workshops on paint and creative arts, and also offer our clients the service of having any piece in our shop customized, or bring us their own furniture to be updated. We strive to be a one-stop shop for modern retro style, and we pride ourselves on recognizing that each customer has their own take on what that means – that flexibility keeps it fresh and fun.

Why do you do it?

I enjoy expressing myself through paint and decorative arts, and it’s fun to share my interest with like-minded customers. Together we’re building a community.

What was your Catalyst? (How did you get started?)

I had many years of experience as a real estate agent in Washington, D.C., and realized that the thing that most appealed to me was creatively staging homes to enhance their marketability and value. An antique shop came up for sale in my neighborhood, and I took the chance to purchase it. I steered the business more towards furniture sales and updating the look of vintage furniture using Chalk Paint® by Annie Sloan. Even five years ago, it was evident that the traditional antique business was rapidly changing, so I set out to have fun and put my own spin on it.

What’s a common misconception or unknown aspect of what you do?

People often think Chalk Paint® can be made at home or found in big box stores. It’s the decorative paint which originated with Annie Sloan in 1990. The name is trademarked and other “chalk paints” are imitations. The product is only available through select stores, such as ours.

What’s the most challenging part of your Hustle?

Competing with big chain stores and overcoming the misconception that all antique stores are over-priced and full of dusty tchotchkes, when the reality is that some of us have evolved to serve a new generation with radically different tastes and price points.

What’s the most valuable piece of business advice/insight that’s helped you?

“Experiences” sell better that “things.” As Ben Franklin said: “Tell me, and I forget. Teach me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I’ll understand.”

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