Antique dealer Chris Katirai is known in business circles as the lamp doctor.
He shared this moniker behind a large desk, with an alabaster statue of a woman keeping watch of the front door of Antiques on Mt. Pleasant.
The nickname was given to him because of his penchant to take problematic European lighting, rewire it and sell it in his shop.
Now, after 30 years in the antiquing industry, Katirai is forced to close his doors due to health problems.
The 63-year-old has been diagnosed with emphysema, and the air in the old shop, above which he and his family lived, is not up to snuff.
There’s warmth in his voice, as he recalls his introduction to the industry in 1985, when he started picking for his cousin’s shop at 6188 Yonge Street.
As he gained more experience, Katirai decided to join the shop, working inside. Most of his lighting savvy came from having been educated as an engineer in England and apprenticing with his brother, an electrician.
In 1990, he set out on his own, opening up his first shop at 1545 Bayview Ave. Then in 2001, he moved to his current location at 562 Mt. Pleasant Rd.
In a break from memory lane, Katirai revealed a rueful side.
“I have been in this business for such a long time — it’s been okay,” he said. “I would not advise anyone to go into this business nowadays but it used to be good.
“When I had the shop on Bayview, I used to have three people working for me: one person working on furniture, another helping me on lighting.”
Work slowed down unfortunately, but Katirai refused to leave his passion.
“When you get into this business, money is not an issue. It’s the love you have for this business of art that keeps you in it,” he said. “I could have started in building homes, and be 10 times more successful. Because of the love I have for antiques, and art, I refused.”
He will be on hiatus for a year, at the request of his doctor, so he’ll relax with his wife and two daughters, age 7 and 19 months, in Alliston, Ont.
Then, if he gets the “Sold!” from his physician, he’s hoping to move to his wife’s hometown of Yokohama, Japan to help take care of her 78-year-old mother.
Antiques on Mt. Pleasant will shut its doors Oct. 17 and everything must go. As for his parting words, Katirai is playful.
“I just hope that in 30 years, I haven’t had too many enemies,” he said with a laugh.