Updated: Jun 17
✦ One local businessman, Darius Witecki, lives by this mantra. Taking a side hustle to new heights and establishing Port Pickers, he has turned an avid interest in antiques and collectibles into a profitable business in Port Macquarie’s industrial area.
We caught up with Darius at his warehouse and were blown away by the eclectic mix of antiques, collectibles and curiosities on offer. Definitely a must see if you are interested in treasures from the past.
"My obsession started as a child," Darius told us. "I had a fascination with watches. I was always asking people about their watches and on Christmas and birthdays I wanted a watch. So by the time I was 15 years old, I had a watch collection of probably five or six. The obsession continued from there to clocks and then other cool things. I found myself just fascinated with old stuff. Collectibles, watches, clocks, knives plus lots more as you can see in my store.”
When asked if there was an item or two that he really wanted to come across and haven’t as yet Darius replied, "I would love to find a Paul Newman Rolex Daytona from the 70s that's on my wish list, and an original samurai sword from a samurai warrior, which may be very hard to find.”
Darius grew up in Geelong, just south of Melbourne, then moved to Queensland and worked in different industries over the years, while still collecting in his spare time. With the onset of COVID-19 and the downturn in many businesses, Darius pivoted, closed his business in Brisbane and his picking journey started.
There are a lot of pawnbrokers, antique shops, garage sales and so on in and around Brisbane, which Darius frequented, searching for antiques and collectibles. His collection grew and grew, leading up to a move to Port Macquarie and the formation of his own shop, Port Pickers.
Pawnshop -v- antique and collectibles store
The main difference is how they operate. Pawn shops will allow you to offer antiques as collateral for a quick loan while antique stores do not. You either have to sell or trade your antiques right off the bat without the ability to get your item back unless you purchase it back from them. Pawn shops offer white goods, mobile phones, laptops, modern items, whereas an antique and collectibles store doesn’t.
Port Pickers is an antique and collectibles store, staying away from anything 21st century. They offer a huge variety of items, from high end watches and clocks, quality antique furniture and homewares, antique toys and collectibles, books, knives, glassware - the list goes on and on.
It would be safe to say that anything under the Port Pickers roof is from the 90’s and before. “That's what's trending," Darius tells us. "We have a finger on the pulse on what's trending and what's not trending, what's hot, what's not, what's dying and what's booming.“
The trending era at the moment for his customers is anything from the 1980s and 1990s - the plastic era. A lot of his customers grew up in that era and they're looking for items that they are familiar with.
What is Port Pickers and what makes it unique?
Darius explains, “Port Pickers is very different to any antique and collectibles shop out there. It's not a secondhand shop, but it is a cross between the two in a way. We prefer high end items, but the challenge we have is that we deal with deceased estates. When we are asked to buy we have to take everything - yes antiques, but also the bric-a brac and household items, you have to take the lot.”
Despite this, Darius doesn’t like throwing anything in the bin as he believes almost everything is sellable. As they say, one man's trash is another man's treasure. It's a cliche but one that is very true.
He does have a preference to keep to the more high end items, but he says what makes Port Pickers unique is that they have a little bit of everything. A wish list has been created, so they are always on the lookout to find items their customers want.
“You'll find pretty much anything and everything in here. If we find it, it’s on the shelf for sale and if it's not here I'm looking for it and I'll find it next week,” says Darius.