Brent Fletcher has been dealing in war antiques for more than three decades on Government Street downtown.
But on June 30, he is raising a white flag on the retail front.
The owner of Command Post Militaria and Antiques said a significant drop in foot traffic during the pandemic and a recent hike in rent will see him manoeuvre his collections to online sales.
“I’ve had lots of great customers here,” said Fletcher. “The locals have been great, but I’ve missed the Americans and the Europeans.”
Fletcher has had his little store at 1306 Government St. stuffed with military items of all kinds over the years — from photos, badges and defused grenades to flags, helmets and swords from the world wars and other conflicts.
A 16th-century helmet — battered and rough and “probably dug up” — has a price tag of $695.
Fletcher said he’ll miss the conversations with customers. Some are younger people who had grandparents serve in the world wars. Others are bringing in their parents’ collections from attics and storage.
Last week, Fletcher said a 96-year-old German tank driver stopped in to browse the collections.
Sadly, “not many of the [Second World War] veterans are around anymore,” said Fletcher.
He was surprised several years ago when singer Billy Joel popped into the shop and ended up buying six swords.
Collecting has always been a passion, said Fletcher, noting his ancestry is linked to British naval commander Lord Nelson and his great grandfather fought in the Boer War.
The original store was started by Barry Wilmore in the 1980s. He ran it out of the back room and with a knife and dart shop out front.
Fletcher is switching to selling on EBay.com.