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Danny Popuch, Co-owner of Daniels Antiques

By Stephanie Sack | Monday, November 28, 2011

Danny Popuch in his store, Daniels Antiques. Credit: Stephanie Sack

As the co-owner of Daniels Antiques, which recently opened a storefront in Lincoln Square at 4507 N. Lincoln Ave., Danny Popuch brings decades of experience in antiquities, design, and textiles to the business. A native Chicagoan who has raised his family in the city, Popuch’s had a varied professional trajectory including limo driver, Hertz Rental manager, to electronics salesman, to garbageman.

Falling into the world of antiques somewhat by accident, he and his wife, Cynthia, have seen Daniels Antiques evolve over the years from a wholesale endeavor to a retail concept that moved to Lincoln Avenue in spring 2011. The shop’s eclectic and handpicked inventory of objects, furniture and art reflects Danny’s love of history and preservation, and was recently featured on the local show “Bring It Home“.

1. Where are you from originally, and how did you end up in Chicago?

I’ve always lived in Chicago, except while I attended college in Milwaukee. I was born and raised on the South Side; moved to the North Side with my family when I was 17. I am committed to this city. Besides having a small business in Chicago, my wife and I raised our two sons here. All of us are products of the Chicago Public Schools. We’ve also been involved with different community groups.

2. Tell the CSJ a little bit about Daniels Antiques and your background. How long as the shop been open, and what drew you to the world of antiques?

I’m coming up on 25 years of being in the antiques business. For years prior to that, I had collected antiques, done some “picking”, but earned a living working 9 to 5.

A friend, Gary Marks, had a small antique shop and asked me to work with him. Gary went on to become a film maker. I stayed in the business and was joined by my wife, Cynthia Diaz, who had worked at a design studio and had retail and art gallery experience. In 1991, we incorporated Daniels Antiques. Both of us are history buffs with an appreciation of craftsmanship and design, all the necessary elements for an interest in antiques. We enjoy the research involved, sharing knowledge of antiques, as well as learning from [and] engaging with the collectors, designers, clients that come into the shop. Daniels Antiques has always been a mix of furnishings-furniture, art, lighting, textiles and decorative arts (pottery, porcelain, glass) as well as a mix of styles and periods, from antiquity to mid-century.

Our emphasis has always been on interesting pieces with great design…there are industrial pulleys alongside Murano glass light fixtures, 17th century art and a 1955 Paul McCobb dresser. We also are very aware of the “green” nature of antiques, as well as the preservation aspect. You will NOT find new reproduction items from China at Daniels Antiques, no matter how decorative or inexpensive they may be.

3. Daniel’s Antiques is a somewhat recent addition to the Lincoln Square neighborhood. What drew you as a small business owner to the area? Do you feel the residents support their local mom-and-pops?

Initially, Daniels Antiques was mostly wholesale to designers, architects and other dealers. As our retail business expanded, location became more of a concern.

We were very familiar with the area. Our sons played sports at Welles Park, and we often used the resources at Sulzer and The Old Town School.

When this space became available to us we were anxious for the opportunity to be in such a vibrant, diverse community. Daniels Antiques opened at this location in Lincoln Square in March, 2011.

Our clientele includes many suburbanites, and out of towners. It’s a pleasure to introduce them to this community. Whether they find something at Daniels Antiques or not, to be able to refer them to other retail shops, a great place to eat or to see a show is a bonus for us. We’ve always had local support. Some long time clients live nearby. It’s been a very welcoming seven months; neighbors have stopped by sometimes just to say how glad they are that we’re here.

4. There are so many great spots for shopping and dining on your section of Lincoln Ave! Which restaurants, cafes, or other stores have become your favorites in the neighborhood?

Well we’ve been dining around here long before we moved Daniels Antiques to Lincoln Ave. We’ve always been fans of Cafe Selmarie and La Boca della Verita.

At least once a week we have Apart Pizza, guacamole & tacos from Taqueria Asadero and a visit to the Farmer’s Markets. For coffee, the Grind. Afterwork, The Grafton Pub. Tank has great sushi.

I could go on, there’s so many great places to eat! As for shops, well that’s one of the reasons we’re here- the shops here are varied, unique and we felt that Daniels Antiques would fit in nicely. We like Ravenswood Used Books, A Secret Closet, Timeless Toys, Laurie’s Planet of Sound Records. We share space with The Glass Art & Decorative Studio; Matthew John does stained glass restoration & fabrication.

5. What advice would you give people thinking about opening a small business in Lincoln Square?

Assuming they have already heard all the cliches about being an entrepreneur (which mostly are true), my advice would stem from my positive experience here.

That would include the neighborhood ambiance, the local Chamber of Commerce, the cultural opportunities. Take advantage of the foot traffic, the many local events and get to know your neighbors.

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