“To run a business, you need to have drive,” said Patrick Penfield of Penfield Antiques and Collectibles. “You also need to be really passionate about your business, and I’m extremely passionate about antiques, which is kind of weird for my age, but I love doing it.”
At 18 years old, Penfield graduated from Baker High School in Baldwinsville in June as the president of his class. The success of this young entrepreneur started in 2012, at the age of 13. At first, Penfield’s antique business started out as a hobby as he collected old coins with his father. His father taught him about antiques and later, business. They went to estate sales, auctions and antique shows and Penfield’s love for antiques turned into a passionate business.
“We started buying stuff we found that we thought could be worth something,” Penfield said. “It started with coins, then comic books and vintage toys to old pocket watches and porcelain signs. There is always something new to find, and it’s always kind of a gamble, but I’ve been doing this for five years, and now I know what to look for.”
Whenever Penfield and his father go to an estate sale and purchase antiques, they immediately list the item on eBay or Craigslist. They don’t keep track of inventory as the business is just in the family, but when they do purchase an item, whether it’s an antique spoon or an old election, pin they do all the research they can on it so they know how to price it out for customers. Everything is one of a kind and Penfield explained how it is rare to see the same thing twice at estate sales.
“The biggest challenge is whether or not you choose to buy something,” Penfield said. “When we are at auctions or estate sales we don’t always know what we are buying.” He said estate sales can be chaotic and normally finds them online at estatesales.net or on Craigslist. “We try to get there before everyone else so we get first pick. You have to grab what you can before someone else does and hope it’s worth it.”
Penfield recently fought against Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed marketplace tax. Marketplaces like eBay are being forced to collect sales tax on items purchased by New Yorkers. Penfield feels this will scare away likely customers and is fighting to repeal it with a petition he started on change.org.
“I remember when Patrick was turning 8 years old and his birthday theme was money,” said Penfield’s mom, Kristen Sozzi Penfield, with a smile. “He wanted Donald Trump to make an appearance way before we was elected president. That’s what I love about Patrick: He is driven, but he is also very humble. He was juggling football, his senior presidency, the school store and his businesses. I’m very proud of him.”
In addition to his antiques and collectibles business, Penfield started the American Watch Company in 2015, which is a completely separate entity formed because of his love of antique watches. Watches, watch straps and other merchandise are for sale now on his website, americanwatchcompany.co.
Penfield is attending Syracuse University in the fall and is planning to double major in entrepreneurship and finance. “I really want to own my own business after school,” he said. “Either expanding my antiques business or finding something new, I just want to get more ideas, and Syracuse will help me do that.”
Penfield loves owning his own business and being his own boss, so he knows that is the direction he wants to go in after college. It didn’t take long for him to realize that the typical part time jobs people his age usually work at were not for him. “I get out however much I put in,” Penfield said. “If I don’t have the motivation to do much, I won’t be making much money, so I have to always be on the look out and constantly be on the go.”
Because of Penfield’s entrepreneurial success, he received a few different scholarships. In 2017, he became a finalist for the National Federation of Independent Business, Young Entrepreneur Foundation, the Excellence Business Scholarship, and the Baldwinsville Chamber of Commerce Scholarship and the Diane Reeves Memorial Scholarship. He also received the New York State Senate Youth Leadership Recognition Award where Sen. John A. DeFrancisco met with Penfield and 14 other standouts from around Syracuse who excel academically.
As he walks around the basement level of his house in which he calls “the warehouse” and looks around at the business he created, Penfield said, “The hardest part about starting a business is taking the first step. You need to be your own motivator and drive to get to where you want to be, and it’s not as hard as people think. If you love what you do then it’s not a job, and I love it. I love what I do.”
Penfield is working on a website for Penfield Antiques and Collectibles, but in the meantime, visit the store’s Facebook page to see what he is selling.