AT 78, Jan Grace may be the most senior businesswoman in Newcastle but she is moving with the times.
In March, she enlisted one of her six children to sign her up to Instagram and she knows it has had an impact, notwithstanding the ongoing pandemic.
"I went home and said to my son, 'this month I was lucky to pay the rent' and he said, 'Mum, you have to got to update things otherwise young people won't know where you are'," she recalls. "Well, I had two couples in the other day who bought a clock and I asked how they knew I was here and they said they saw me on Instagram. I was so excited!"
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With the help of her son, David, Mrs Grace's store Mayfield West Antiques is sharing its eclectic wares on Instagram, featuring Jan herself and snippets of her life advice alongside details of her antiques.
"I tell him what to say and he does it, it's a team effort," she says with a laugh.
One of five children born into an Irish Catholic family in 1942 in Waratah, Mrs Grace was 19 when she married her husband Doug, the "set up manager" at the 18-inc forge mill at the BHP steelworks.
The pair raised six children and it was only when her youngest began school that Ms Grace was ready for a challenge but found herself with no formal qualifications.
Having inherited a love of old wares from her mother and grandmother who always "surrounded themselves with beautiful things", she was 32 when she opened her antiques business in 1974 in Station Street, Waratah.
She remained there for seven years before relocating it to the Mayfield West strip of shops, trading for 20 years before shifting four doors west to her current site, next door to the bustling Kebab and Charcoal Chicken shop, its tables often overflowing with tradies.
"This business has been like a hobby that you can enjoy and be relaxed, it's not thriving like the place next door but I have loved it all my life," she says.
Every inch of Mayfield West Antiques is filled with curios, from Deco furniture to Victorian platewear and glasswear: "I have to be particular about what I choose because it is a small space," Mrs Grace says.
Her favourite pieces are the Carnival and blown glass vases and items, all bright in colour - making them popular with her younger clients.
"When men were blowing the glass, lots of them later died from inhaling the toxins involved - they have a special place in my heart because of that," she says.
Having been able to eke out a modest existance which is now supported by her pension (Doug passed away three years ago), Mrs Grace says the secret to her longevity as a businesswoman is simple.
"It's about not being greedy - be fair to yourself and to your customer," she said.
"Do what you love. Some people go into things hoping to make money and it's not there and after pouring money in to it they back out, they can't go the distance."
When the pandemic emerged, she locked up and went home and patiently waited to reopen, keen to see not just her customers but the members of the community from all walks of life who often pop in to sit down and share a cup of tea with her.
"The first lockdown I got through but this time when my son said 'Mum, stay at home' I said, 'No, I'm going in'," she said.
"My shop is a meeting place for my friends. Other women my age have meals out and coffee but I have all my good times here, there is lots of laughter."
She has always offered support where she can to her community, describing it as her "Christian way of love".
"I've seen children become adults who come in here with their babies, kids running in for a biscuit. I had a man come in here the other day and say, 'Do you remember me, Jan?" and of course I did, and he said 'Can I have a biscuit?' she laughs.
Mrs Grace sells plants at her door that belong to her daughter in law as well as costume jellery and paintings by one of her daughters and granddaughters.
She likes the way Newcastle is progressing and thinks it should be shared equally.
"You don't look backwards, you move forwards, my children and grandchildren will have a wonderful city to live in and we'll share it with everyone - it's for everyone, those who are here and coming from overseas, living in harmony" she says.
She guesses she'll retire when she turns 80, and no sooner.
"If I sat home, I'd probably grow old, wither and go," she quips.
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