Written by Diane Helentjaris | Photos by Michael Butcher
Two fat sculptured peacocks with finely detailed features perch upstairs in Beckwith Bolle’s office, lording over pride of place, smack dab in the center of the bookshelf. Their brass carries the rich patina only age can provide. They were the instigators of it all, the start of the journey leading to the Accidental Peacock, Bolle’s shop of curated antique and vintage finds just down the stairs.
There’s a backstory to every business and the Accidental Peacock’s origin story is a feel-good one, reminiscent of a warm Hallmark movie or a Granny Moses folk art painting. Bolle, principal broker and owner of Carter Braxton Preferred Properties, has been a licensed real estate agent since 2004 and a licensed broker since 2010. A veteran of multiple leadership roles in her field, she served as president of the Virginia Realtors in 2019. Currently Bolle has 12 agents working for her. About a year and a half ago, she moved her business to Middleburg.
As a realtor, she is more than a little familiar with the role of “stuff and things” in people’s lives. Everyone has stuff. Even Marie Kondo, the guru of decluttering and the queen of tidiness — who urges folks to only keep things that “spark joy” — sells everything from robes to a black wick cutter to a $78 teacup on her website.
There are reasons those seeking to move to a new home may have more furniture, mementos, collections, clothes, and “stuff” than in past times. Home sellers and buyers with adult children may bump up against generational lifestyle differences; their children may want nothing to do with family heirlooms. Also, Americans are moving less often. Two-career couples, a decrease in corporate-sponsored moves, “sandwich generations” responsible for simultaneously caring for elderly relatives and children, and new opportunities to work from home have decreased the desire and ability to move. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 8% of Americans moved in 2021 compared to about 20% moving each year in the 1950s and 1960s. The longer homeowners stay in one place, the more they may have stashed away in their basement, attic, garage, bookshelves, and closets.
Bolle created the Accidental Peacock to help her clients stymied by their household contents. The peacocks were her first step. Several years ago, she was preparing a home for sale, but the new flooring could not go in until the homeowner’s collection of items was moved out. The antique picker scheduled to go through the home — one of those who buy antique and vintage items for resale — was a no-show. Rather than delay things further, Bolle bought the collection herself, including the peacocks. Other similar acquisitions followed.
Opened August 23 on South Madison Street in Middleburg, the Accidental Peacock is “a pop-up which went wild” and “a fun side business that’s turned into a labor of love,” Bolle shares. She and her partner, artist Marsha Little, use the shop to help Carter Braxton customers. Bolle says they “enjoy helping clients, giving them a reason to downsize and a way to downsize. We do it with kindness and rehome it. It puts out good energy.” They carefully curate the vintage and antique goods filling the cozy shop. Items not chosen for the store are donated to local charities, putting these once-cherished possessions back into the community rather than a dumpster or landfill.
Having grown up in Virginia, in a home where antiques were part of everyday life, Bolle sees the worthiness in what she offers. She particularly enjoys working with furniture that “needs a little bit of love … that aren’t made anymore.” Bringing out the beauty of a wooden piece, revealing lush mahogany or dramatic tiger stripe maple hidden by years of use, thrills her.
Whether the shopper is a tourist looking for an equestrian memento of horse country or a local seeking barware or a gift, they are likely to find just the piece to suit their desires at the Accidental Peacock. Large and small paintings, antique side tables, mid-century cooking gadgets, and more create appealing vignettes in the charming space.
“We find someone to re-love your things,” Bolle says. “We want to help folks.” She prices her shop’s goods to sell and believes “It’s a fun shop, not overpriced.… We respect these things. Someone once loved these items … [and] every one of them has a story.” ML
The Accidental Peacock
18 South Madison Street
Middleburg, Virginia 20117
Open Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Published in the December 2023 issue of Middleburg Life.