Bucks County Herald

Decoguys move online

New Hope’s Cockamamie’s closes May 31

DAVID CAMPBELL



Cockamamie’s Herb Millman, left, and John Dwyer will open their doors for the final time at 13 N. Main St. on May 31. The Art Deco store will go online in June. “When one door closes, another one opens,” Millman said.

Herb Millman sat on the steps outside his place of business, Cockamamie’s, overlooking New Hope’s North Main Street.

It’s a view Millman and his partner, John Dwyer, have probably seen thousands of times. A ladder blocked the entrance to Cockamamie’s at 13 N. Main St. last Thursday afternoon. Millman reflected.

“I sat here with my partner, John, and I said, ‘When I’m 70 years old, I don’t want to be sitting on these steps and climbing these ladders,’ ” he said. “And we close [two days after] Memorial Day (May 31) and I’m going to be 70 June 5.”

Cockamamie’s will have a presence at Cockamamies.net, but the brick and mortar will be history.

“Everything is going to be online,” Millman said. “I won’t have to go up and down ladders; I won’t have to be sitting on North Main Street. In almost 21 years, I’ve had two Saturdays off: my nephew and niece’s wedding. When I go on vacation, I’m always back Friday night or Saturday morning at 8, so I can open for the weekend.

“I don’t even know what to do on the first weekend off. I’ll probably be down here visiting my friends and neighbors.”

Cockamamie’s opened July 4, 1996 on West Bridge Street. It’s been at its present location for about the past five years, Millman said. Millman and Dwyer specialize in Art Deco, so much so that they’ve earned the nickname the Decoguys, having made numerous appearances on television, including a four-year run on QVC as the network’s on-air lighting experts.

“We have some credibility,” Millman said. “I’ve written two books (‘Art Deco Lighting’ and ‘Popular Art Deco Lighting: Shades of the Past,’ both for Schiffer Publishing); I’m writing my third one. I’ve been in New Hope for so many years and I’m not somebody who’s selling out of an attic or a basement or a garage.”

Lighting and barware sell very well at Cockamamie’s, Millman said. The business also has a large collection of furniture, home accessories and celebrity autographs for sale. Millman said they utilize two buyers in France and another two in England, plus about 50 pickers in the United States, to stock their shelves.

“I’ve been collecting Art Deco for 37 years,” Millman said.

“Some of the things that we have are one of a kind,” he continued. “There are pieces that I have sold personally over the years that I have never seen again.”

It hasn’t always been an easy run, Millman said, sharing the recession from 2007 to ’09 impacted business as did a nearby bridge closure about a dozen years ago, among other things, but, by and large, Millman very much seems to have enjoyed the ride.

“I’m going to miss it,” he said, “but I’m going to still be down here. I love New Hope. I’m very active in town.”

Millman and Dwyer both are members of the New Hope Eagle Fire Co. Millman served as president of the New Hope Chamber of Commerce for four years and now sits on the chamber board, as does Dwyer. Among many other things, Millman also held the position of executive director of both the New Hope Merchants Association and the New Hope Business Alliance.

“I’m a people person,” Millman said.

As a way to give back, Millman and Dwyer are taking 25 to 60 percent off ticket prices at Cockamamie’s until they shutter their doors the last day of the month.

“When one door closes,” Millman said, “another one opens.”

He concluded: “Now, I’m going to forge forward with the website and see where that takes me. If I travel, I take my laptop with me. It’s like bringing the store with me.”

dcampbell@buckscountyherald.com

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