Working with one’s family, for most of us, might not be our first career choice; but changing roles from father and son to business partners comes naturally to Larry and Ryan Laster, owners of Laster’s Fine Art, because of a shared appreciation for art which, to the Lasters, can take many forms.
“Artwork isn’t necessarily just an oil painting on canvas,” said Ryan. “I’d say nearly every item we sell is a piece of art. Whether it’s a silver ring or a chest of drawers, an artist took the time to design and construct that item. Our gallery is very deceiving from the outside. Looking at just our storefront might turn some people off; you have to come inside to see what we truly have. We offer a little bit of something for everyone.” So basically, as far as Laster’s Fine Art, “you can’t judge a book by its cover” which is interesting since the love of books is at the heart of this father-son business.
Larry Laster has been heavily involved in the furniture business for a long time. He spent many years helping to design and manufacture fine furniture. He always had an interest in antiques and artwork, eventually finding himself in the antique leather-bound book business, enjoying this venture for several years too. “My dad would set up showrooms in High Point during the Furniture Market and sell books, furniture and art,” said Ryan. “He has spent nearly 40 years dealing in art, antiques and books before finally deciding to open our retail store, Laster’s Fine Art & Antiques in the summer of 2011. We offer many different services to our clients based on their current needs. If a client needs to sell something, we offer the option of either selling his or her antiques outright or putting them in the gallery on consignment. When we work on consignment, we promise to get you more money for your items than you’d get selling them outright to any other store or dealer! We work on a 60-40 commission, 60% going to our clients. We can put prices on their items that are competitive in today’s market and get the sales their items deserve.” If a customer isn’t interested in consignment, Larry and Ryan will buy items outright. “We are highly competitive on what we offer for items,” said Ryan. “We will always be honest with potential clients because that’s how we keep a good reputation. Honesty is always the best policy when doing business.” With his father’s love of antiques and art, you can probably guess that Ryan just kind of fell into his appreciation for the same, but it started on a small scale.
“When I was a kid, I could earn a few extra bucks by helping polish the leather-bound books we’d sold before we shipped them off,” said Ryan. “I’d help move furniture out of homes as well as deliver things that had sold. I’ve gained the majority of my antique and art experience by working at the gallery on Stratford Road. It has been more than five years since we opened, and I’ve been in the shop nearly every day we’ve been open. I have seen thousands of pieces come and go, and I have gained a huge appreciation for the craftsmanship of hand-made furniture.”
Keeping the family tie strong between this father and son takes effort because of Ryan’s busy home life. “Outside of work, we don’t really have a lot of time to spend together,’ said Ryan. “I have two children under the age of three that I take care of after work while my wife works evenings and also pursues her degree in nursing. We are able to spend some Sunday afternoons by the pool together with our family as well as going out to dinner on Wednesday nights. We work well together, and when we can, we are just father and son.”
Laster’s Fine Arts & Antiques also handles estate sales. “We can handle partial to full estates,” said Ryan. “The majority of our merchandise comes from local homes and dealers. Fine art and nicer furniture items make their way into our shop. But, let’s say you have a house full of furniture, art, glassware, china and other items that you need help selling. We come in and conduct a two or three-day sale, on the premises, where everything in the house gets put up for sale. Estate sales guarantee, to a point, an item selling at a certain price. This kind of sale brings out buyers of all kinds from dealers and collectors to flippers. Our sales take place in a more controlled environment, whereas at an auction, you may see items sold for much less than what they should have sold for.”
If antiques aren’t your thing, Laster’s also sells new furniture made of solid wood, ensuring it will last for years to come. “With everything we do, we want to sell things that should hold their value over the years and do so in a manner that brings our customers back to continue to do business with us,” said Ryan.
Laster’s Fine Art & Antiques is located at 664 South Stratford Road in Winston-Salem. For more information, call 336.765.5919, or visit www.lastersfineart.com.