Houston Atlas Q & A with Martin Mercader proprietor of Mercader's Antiques located at 1906 Ashland St, Houston. mercaderantiques.com

How long have your been a shop owner?

Hard to imagine, but it has been 16 years. I must be having fun, because it has  gone by quickly.

How did you get started in the antiques business?

Purely by chance. I had been an art gallery owner and an interior designer. My clients would get rid of collections and one thing led to another and I opened a booth at an antique mall.

What do you primarily collect?

Art, paintings and sculptures-from classical to contemporary.

Which item in your collection could you never part with?

Family Heirlooms. I love how objects provide a link to the past, but when they link to your family's past it is just so much more powerful.

What is your favorite period?

The Biedermeier period. I am drawn to the simplicity and elegance.

Favorite place to antique shop outside of Houston?

Flea markets, the hunt and discovery is exhilarating.

Do you have any tips for bargaining?

Be kind and tactful. Shop with your gut feeling. Get that bargain when you see it.

What has been your most unusual purchase?

A Silver Balanganda belt. A belt with silver amulets and charms worn by Brazilian Slaves.

If you weren’t an antique dealer, what would you have been in another life?

A Pilot or chef.

What are your non selling items?

Dolls. We are having a sale on dolls now.

Current Trends?

Used furniture painted to change its look, industrial, and architectural elements.

Are there other initiatives you’d like to undertake down the road?

Go full blast on my website.