Edgeville Buzz


Edgewater Antique Dealer Wrote His First Book – And It’s A Best Seller

Duane Scott Cerny

A local antique dealer who has co-owned a popular store in Edgewater for over 20 years has written a book detailing some of his past experiences in the industry. To his surprise, it has become a best seller and is recommended by publications such as The Advocate.

Writing his first book called Selling Dead People’s Things, Duane Scott Cerny shares stories mostly from his early years in the antique dealer profession. Going full force into the business in 1990, Cerny along with Jeffrey Nelson opened Wrigleyville Antique Mall which was one of the first modern multi-dealer vintage stores in Chicago. Then in 1998 they made a risky move (turned smart decision) to relocate into Edgewater.

For over 20 years now Broadway Antique Market (6130 N Broadway) has set a new standard for the scene by becoming Chicago’s largest multi-dealer shopping destination with 75 dealers all under one roof. They have watched Edgewater grow and Broadway get revitalized. Within time other vintage shops started popping up around them and the neighborhood slowly became a popular thrifting mecca.

In that time Cerny has seen it all. People watching has become a bit of a sport at his store as their quirky, off-beat sense of style and humor has rubbed off on him. The colorful stories that were produced over the decades has giving him the opportunity to detail his experiences in Selling Dead People’s Things.

As the name suggests, the book in full of dark comedy and (non-dead) people are talking including interior guru Nate Berkus who calls it “a beautiful collection of all his years of experience and a twenty-five-year love affair with design.” It took five years to pull everything together for the work but it has been a labor of love for the author.

“The book has been shockingly successful and I’m not just saying that because I’ve failed at lots of things,” Cerny joked. “It’s been a big surprise and currently in its third printing. With antiques and collectables, about 95% of the books are price guides or identifying what something is. That is not what this book is. It’s about people, their things and why we collect them. It’s a memoir of some of the most unusual estates I’ve processed in the 30 years doing this. It pulls back the curtain of a business that everyone is fascinated with.”

Those stories were so interesting that Cerny started jotting down his experiences in a notebook. Within time he realized that his writings would be of interest to people in the antique business. What he quickly learned however, is that the book filled a void in the industry as it started to take on a life of its own and attracting a wide range of readers.

Since then it has become the number one antique and collectable best seller on Amazon for 2019. It has won praise by book reviewers, antique dealers, auctioneers and most recently was named in the Advocate’s top LGBT memoirs of 2019.

“Over a lifetime of experience, Cerny has seen it all, and his stories reveal great insight into how we as a society view and value property,” said the Advocate’s Donald Padgett. “These true tales offer insight into the multibillion-dollar resale trade business but also reveal how our relationship with our possessions often goes much deeper than simple ownership. And with Cerny’s witty and engaging style, the book may have you thinking differently about tossing that ugly lamp your dearly departed great-aunt cherished.”

Released 18 months ago, the unexpected success of Selling Dead People’s Things has given Cerny confidence in his writing accomplishment and the books sales keep rising.

“I was shocked to learn about being handpicked by the Advocate. I’m on the same list with some amazing people including John Waters – I can die now,” Cerny added. “A big plus of writing this book is that I have gotten to meet so many new, wonderful people and opened me up in that respect. The book has given me more confidence than before. Maybe I’m a little bit better of a writer than I thought.”

Cerny is currently developing a second book that will be in the same lines as the first with  even more unbelievable stories. He has stumbled upon a genre that people find fascinating which is telling other people’s stories through their objects and sometimes letting the objects tell stories about them. Who would have know that vintage is packed full of drama.


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