NEW MILFORD – After five years of collecting and selling consignments from an overflowing, antique white house on Route 7, Litchfield County Pickers is going big.
Today, they announced plans to open a second location, Litchfield County Pickers South, just five miles down the road.
Merton Larmore III, who runs the business with his wife Dawn Larmore, first put their estate liquidation business on the map after changing careers during the Great Recession, and since, they have averaged 1,200 shoppers seeking everyday bargains and one-of-a-kind nostalgia each weekend.
Larmore, who’s not one to turn down business, came to the realization six months ago that he needed to expand Litchfield County Pickers, and fast. He was running out of space.
Lately, the Larmores have been filling a 17,000-square-foot building standing on the site of the former Agway at 493 Danbury Road.
“It’s wonderful that Mert and his crew take already-made products and find people that appreciate the work and effort that went into making many of these pieces,” said Mayor Peter H. Bass. “What they do is positive for the environment and for our local economy.”
Merton Larmore said his vision is to create a mega-superstore, “a picker’s paradise filled with estate liquidation treasures just waiting to be discovered.”
Larmore said the new store will operate and feel just like a full-service department store.
“Imagine what Kmart looks like… In staying true to our picker selves, we bought 11 truckloads of their shelving and display cases,” he said. “When the Southbury store closed, they were going to scrap everything they couldn’t sell. We bought it all, including a massive 2,000-pound conveyor belt, like what you see at the airports.”
The main sales floor is over 11,000 square feet and the aisles are already lined with seemingly endless rows of estate merchandise on Kmart shelving. Several aisles of estate furniture and antiques also catch the eye.
Antique wooden canoes and a large collection of handcrafted wooden airplanes are suspended from the ceiling.
The estate liquidation side of the business continues to experience tremendous growth year after year. Larmore said the high demand is mainly driven by people who need to sell their homes to move or downsize. “The amount of stuff that people collect and need to get rid of is unbelievable. We take the stress off their shoulders,” he said.
Whenever Larmore closes out an estate, he takes all its contents and brings everything back to the store to sell at market value.
This “take it all” and “help everyone” mindset is why Litchfield County Pickers outgrew its existing 3,000-square foot retail space.
“An overwhelming amount of people want to use our service and the amount of estate liquidation jobs we’ve been turning down proves that we will use the space and not turn people away. Everything just fell into place,” said Larmore.
Determined to find a second location, Larmore jumped on the opportunity as soon as he found out the commercial space was available.
Larmore signed a five-year lease, with an option to renew, with RC Tower Group.
Litchfield County Pickers South will be like its northern location. “Everything is just on a much larger scale. However, the major difference is that I will now be doing indoor estate sales every day with no worries about the elements,” he said.
Although the other store near the Big Y shopping plaza is open six days a week, the outside lawn is only zoned for weekend estate sales, which are always weather dependent and seasonal.
Larmore said he hopes to attract more customers entering and leaving town and that having two stores on opposite ends will give him the visibility he needs to take his business to the next level.
When the store first opens, Larmore will run Litchfield County Pickers South on his own. Future staffing needs will be determined once the store is more established. His wife will continue to help run Litchfield County Pickers North.
“Mert has a lot of energy and he’s very excited,” Dawn Larmore said. “I am proud of him. The new store is going to be another huge success.”
Initially, the store will be open seven days a week, between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. Larmore will adjust the times depending on customer needs.
As for the new location, Larmore knows firsthand what a prime piece of commercial property can do to accelerate the growth of an already successful business.
The new storefront is located across from The Elephant’s Trunk Country Flea Market.
This popular outdoor hot spot has appeared on HGTV and attracts bargain hunters and collectors up and down the East Coast.
Route 7, from New Milford to Kent, has also become a picker’s paradise. The 18-mile stretch is lined with 15 used merchandise destinations. Litchfield County Pickers now owns two of them.
GRAND OPENING – 2/10 : Mayor Peter H. Bass will cut the ceremonial ribbon at 10 a.m.
This feature and photos by Alicia Sakal originally appeared online and in the Business section of the January 28 edition of Republican-American, a regional daily newspaper in 36 towns and cities in Litchfield County and Greater Waterbury, Connecticut.