“It just grew like Topsy. Antiques and old artefacts have always been of interest to me”
On his way from South London to South America, Michael Morris decided to give up the promised excitement of exotic adventure for the charms of Nar Nar Goon, as he told MARK CLANCY.
For a small town, Nar Nar Goon has a big antiques store and a character to go with it.
Visitors to the delights of The Old Motor Garage will be welcomed by its colourful collection of antiques and artefacts and also by its equally colourful and eloquent raconteur, showman and proprietor of 13 years Michael Morris.
Originally form South London, Michael decided to leave his home town behind for an exciting and exotic life of sangrias and senoritas in South America.
“Actually, I was heading for Venezuela and took a wrong turn,” he said with a quip and his original accent fully intact.
Within the depths of his establishment is a Harry Potter warren of trinkets and antiques which keep bargain hunters spellbound and ferreting away for hours on end.
Thousands of antiques, bits of bric-a-brac and a kaleidoscope of colours assault the senses as visitors make their way through the narrow aisles that take them ever deeper into the caverns of cobwebbed curios.
Among the treasures to be found are dusty and rusty bicycles, fireplaces, fine china and cutlery, clocks and jewellery, musical instruments, pictures and furniture, all benefitting from selected areas being tastefully illuminated by table lights to create the impression of rooms within rooms.
“It just grew like Topsy. Antiques and old artefacts have always been of interest to me,” said Michael, who runs the business with his partner Jo.
“I try to avoid buying it these days because there’s so much of it.
“We used to go to 40 garage sales every Saturday, and we used to go to auctions and opportunity shops and amass the stuff.
“At one stage, my house was filled to the gunnels with boxes, I couldn’t even remember what was in them anymore. So that’s how it kind of started.
“There’s a mass of stuff here. People keep bringing me stuff. Although I tell them I’m not really buying, I often end up buying something, you just can’t avoid it.”
On their way through, visitors walk under guitars hanging from the roof and pass by delicate displays of place settings and figurines, clocks and gramophone players while constantly being aware that a careless elbow could send something unseen tumbling to the floor.
“There are no favourites, it’s all too eclectic,” Michael claims, but he is clearly fond of special items, particularly his Punch and Judy puppets which are kept locked away in a glass cabinet with their own mood lighting for safe keeping.
“I’ve got a lot of photographic and movie equipment here because I was a keen photographer and amassed a lot of cameras and projectors, and I used to make Super 8 movies.
“I suppose that’s still interesting, but I don’t really have the time to do them anymore.
“And, of course, the instruments are always good. We’ve got guitars and flutes and clarinets and violins, trombones, pianos, every sort of instrument you can imagine.”
And like many antique shops he has been able to tap into the post-millennial retro mood.
“We have amassed 10,000 vinyl records here. It’s something that has never been killed off and now they’re coming back.
“People want them, people want vinyl records and they’re not so easy to come by, not good ones.”
He has lived in the area for more than 30 years, and has had a long association with the building in its various guises. He’s more of a custodian of its history than the owner.
“It was a produce shop for six years; I used to buy horse food here, once upon a time. Prior to that, it was a lawnmower and motorcycle shop, well known in the area.
“And then, of course, going back over the years it’s been a garage, mostly. It had a petrol pump out the front at one stage, I can recall, on the nature strip.
“It probably dates back to the ’20s.”
Not only does the building and its curios have a long and interesting history, the proprietor also has his intriguing past which he likes to keep to himself.
However, he is open about his motivation for leaving his home town.
“I was all set to go to Venezuela and somebody who was here encouraged me to come by on the way.
“I though it seemed like a good idea at the time. I had no real plans, I thought I’d come for a short stay.”
Thirty-seven years later and through a career spanning cab driving and horse training and riding, Michael never did manage to experience the exotic and romantic high-life of South America but was instead happy to be seduced by the peaceful charms of Nar Nar Goon.