photographs by Millie Holloman Photography

“Have you seen our diamonds?” asks 5-year-old Abigail Keller as customers enter The Ivy Cottage, her parents’ 25,000-square-foot upscale consignment shop in Wilmington. As the “Ambassador of Love,” Abigail guides her guests through the main building to the fine jewelry section, offering complimentary coffee along the way. She navigates a winding maze of memories: handcrafted furniture, fine china, and home decor that once belonged to Wilmington residents.

Despite its size — and more than 10,000 consignors — the store is “overwhelmingly organized,” says owner Andrew Keller. He considers every one of his consignors part of an extended family, and it’s an honor when they choose him to sell their items, he says. “My consignors are trusting me with their family heirlooms. They want to know that someone is caring for their belongings as they would.”

Keller developed an eye for antiques early on, while traveling the world with his parents, who were in the Air Force. In college, he took a job as a delivery driver at The Ivy Cottage. When owner Sam Dunn retired in 2013, Keller bought the business. Since then, The Ivy Cottage has become a labor of love for Keller; his wife, Marie; and their two children, Abigail and Aiden, who he hopes will take over the family business one day. By the looks of it, the Ambassador of Love is well on her way.

The Ivy Cottage
3030 Market Street
Wilmington, NC 28403
(910) 815-0907

This story was published on

Megan Smith was a spring 2019 editorial intern.