NJ Pop-Up Shop: Antiques for Autism

More than 50 consignors and donators help establish a Bernardsville pop-up store to raise money for kids with autism.

Left to right, Antiques for Autism store manager Kecia Conti Price, organizer Nat Conti and Bari Block, mother of a TCI student.

The 7,500-square-foot Antiques for Autism shop is chock-full of antiques, heirloom furniture and decorator items from around the world. But you might be surprised to find it in an unlikely location — the former Audi Dealership at 65 Morristown Road in Bernardsville.

Antiques for Autism is the brainchild of Nat Conti, as part of his vision to raise funds for The Children’s Institute (TCI), a 501(c)(3) school in Verona and Livingston; and the Center of Independence in Hanover, which helps individuals with autism and other special needs. Nat, a TCI board member, and founder and chairman of Conti Construction, already has built tennis courts and a greenhouse for the school.

TCI is dear to the Conti family because Nat’s grandson, who is now 18, attends the school. “Individuals with special needs deserve a place to go when they are young adults after the age of 21 and are no longer in the school system,” Nat says. “It’s important to move young adults out of the classroom and into an environment that allows them to socialize with others.” He also has plans to establish other social activity areas, including a restaurant, inside the Center of Independence.

Billed as an “estate sale for autism,” the store opened on June 20 with plenty of one-of-a-kind furnishings and home accessories to satisfy summer shoppers. The Antiques for Autism pop-up shop will close on Tuesday, September 15 (or sooner if all inventory is sold). “Over the next few weeks, we will drastically reduce prices on all of our items and will accept reasonable offers,” Nat says. “Our goal is to complete this special mission to raise as much money as possible for The Children’s Institute and the Center of Independence.” His daughter, Kecia Conti Price, oversees the daily operation of the shop.

The store is no longer accepting consignments or donations, but the turnout from volunteers and shoppers has exceeded organizers’ expectations. For store hours, check out Antiques for Autism on Facebook and antiques4autism on Instagram.

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