By ED SALVAS
The House of Modern Living, a vintage furniture store and one of the longest established businesses on Cookman Avenue in Asbury Park, is closing and its owner is relocating to Milford, Del.
Bill Meisch, opened the store at 718 Cookman Ave. in 1980, but after 35 years in business, he says it’s time to move on as Asbury Park has changed in ways that have made doing business here more difficult for his store, which features Vintage Modern furniture from the 1920’s to the 70’s.
Looking back, Meisch said “Asbury Park was very good to me,” as he works to clear out the 1,800 square foot store of tables, lamps, bookcases and other furnishings from that era.
He recalls the early days when Cookman Avenue was filled with empty stores and there was no vehicle or foot traffic.
“Leo and I were the only people here,” Meisch said, referring to Leo Clark, owner of Fitness Lifestyles, which was then located at the corner of Cookman Avenue and Main Street.
Today, Cookman Avenue is a busy downtown street where parking is metered and it’s difficult finding a space.
“Parking is a major issue,” Meisch says, and the people coming here are not interested in his type of vintage furnishings. “It’s 20 to 30 year olds who want to drink.”
Meisch also believes that allowing the combination of one liquor license for two or more establishments has also hurt. He said in the last two years Asbury Park has turned into a bar town. The city also often closes the street for parades or other events. “Retail has no chance.”
Meisch moved to Asbury Park in the 1970’s and first lived in a converted beauty parlor on Grand Avenue. He bought the Cookman Avenue building in 1984. He expects to close by the end of the year and hopes to put the building on the market in February. The second floor has a loft apartment with a rear deck. He’s found a new location in Milford, Del. and will soon open Delaware Modern, continuing to sell the same furnishings.
There’s still demand for Vintage Modern Meisch said, and he has regular clients and over the years, he’s been called by movie set decorators looking for authentic period pieces. One film he worked on starred New Jersey native Meryl Streep in “Julie and Julia” about cooking show star Julia Child.
As Meisch stood outside the store talking with a reporter on a recent Sunday afternoon, a group of 20 or so people passed by, all holding wine glasses. They explained it was part of a wine tour and as they passed, glanced at the store, and kept walking.