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Antiques by Zaar: Our Story

Antiques by Zaar product can now be found at new site. ZAAR Design Center.

Please come and check us out there. Click Here.

1985 - 2013

Port au Prince HAITI, Quincy MA USA, Kitchener, Ontario CANADA, Bangkok THAILAND, Taichung TAIWAN, New Gloucester, ME, USA, Stevensville MD/New York NY

It was deemed the unlikeliest of matches. A Canadian, serving as a volunteer, doing a public relations job for a Christian, non profit service organization, and an American, working as financial controller, for the largest shoe manufacturer in the country… that country being Haiti.

Just a year prior to the revolution of 1986 Mark Olbrych and Ruth Wall found their way to each other in this destitute country, launching a life of travel and adventure; along the way adding to their numbers by way of three children, Zachary, Arianna and Avery. (Yes, the ZAA of Zaar)


Zaar Family

Zach, Ari, Avery and Ruth,
The ZAAR of Antiques by Zaar

Mark's insatiable need for challenges ensured that their life would not be dull. With the aftermath of aforementioned revolution, and Ruth finding herself carrying a honeymoon baby, time in Haiti would be terminated prematurely. Ruth had spent five years of her life there, Mark two.

However, Haiti was very much part of the fiber of their beings, and thus it was no surprise that they did not leave Haiti completely behind them when they moved to the states in 1986. Ruth had a passion to further contribute to the plight of the Haitians and Mark offered input on just how this could be done. With his business acumen and financial resources, and Ruth's knowledge of the people and their language, they approached craftsmen Ruth had befriended during her travels guiding Mission tours around the island…with the intention of buying and marketing their handicrafts on their behalf. It was with great excitement that they established Kado D'Haiti. (Gifts from Haiti), which Ruth ran with babes underfoot from their home in Quincy MA and then in Ontario Canada…that is, until it was again time to up root for Mark's cooperate career, this time to Asia.

With retail, manufacturing and wholesale experience behind him Mark was ready to embrace the world of sourcing and management; the challenge set before him as they packed up their three pre schoolers and moved to the exciting and daunting city of Bangkok. Ruth took on her own management and sourcing position managing a household staff of 5 and finding her way around a foreign urban world. They would experience five dramatic and exciting years in Bangkok before it was time to "turn the trick" (time for that new challenge!) and move to the much smaller (just 1 million as opposed to the 10 million population of thier previous residence) city of Taichung, Taiwan.

Adjustments for all. Kids transferred from the British school system to an American school system. After 16 years Mark was working for a new company, albeit, still in the shoe business, and Ruth had to embrace driving in a chaotic city of people managing their cars as if they were motor scooters. They had both learned to speak Creole in Haiti and Thai in Thailand but Chinese was yet another thing. So they learned to maneuver around a city where every street really could look the same, however, not without getting lost plenty of times in the early days of their stay.

The next move was to be of a different nature. Moving the children to Asia at the ripe ages of 4, 3 and 1 was easy, in that the positive and excited frame of mind of their parents was easily transferred to their impressionable youth. However, after 8 years in the Far East, with only yearly summer visits to US/Canada, children were starting to feel more like tourists rather than the Canadian/American citizens they all were. Mark and Ruth took this to heart and further into consideration as they contemplated the next move for the future of their family.

Visits to Maine started back in 1997, with the purchase a cottage on Peaks Island. This became their home away from home for part of every summer since then and thus when given the option of "where would YOU like to live" was put forth, Maine became the natural response for their three, now pre teens.

At the time it seemed viable. Mark would continue his corporate work, "commuting" to Asia and New Hampshire. Kids would go to what appeared to be a good private school and Ruth would once again work to make a house a home, however this time in a home, which they owned, establishing themselves on a 75-acre farm in New Gloucester Maine.

Thus, just as the house was settled (i.e., not much left to unpack of the 350 plus boxes they moved with them) their life became completely unsettled as Mark resigned his position and they thrust themselves into the entrepreneurial world lock stock and barrel.

One expects a difficult time repatriating after an extended time overseas. This was thier 2nd time doing such and thus they felt "ready" for a time that can be more difficult than that of adjusting to a foreign culture/world. (Just ask any ex expat!) However, they were not prepared for the added adjustment required when one dives off the board from the safe corporate world plunging into the risky quagmire of self-employment.

These most recent years have been of (once again) recreating themselves to fit the situation they placed upon themselves. Mark had worked long and hard to achieve the corporate position he was now giving up. Ruth had embraced the role of expat wife/full time mother/party planner/volunteer worker, all the while keeping Mark well in tune with the goings on of the children during his many absences.

The time had come for them to combine their talents and experiences to work together for their family. It didn't happen "straight away" but it became apparent that the venue with which that would be done, would be none other than Antiques by Zaar, a company they had established as a sideline business for Ruth, to sell Chinese antiques online.

Thus, Mark happily returned to his old haunt, China, on a need to basis, (up until 1999 merited 6 trips/year) for the business, hand selecting every piece of furniture they offer for sale. Ruth embraced the sales personality she inherited from her father as she worked with customers from her home office and in person in High Point, where the warehouse is now fully situated and from where she is growing her Trade business.

At the time of this update (Spring 2013), "children" have all graduated from college (2 from McGill, 1 from University of Western Ontario) and are each respectively forging their ways in San Diego, Toronto and Maine, at the ages of 25, 23 and 22.

Mark re entered the corporate world in 2009, back in the shoe business, as he had been for almost 20 years. As such Ruth's responsibilities for Antiques by Zaar have broadened to encompass...well "the whole enchilada" if you will, and albeit a huge learning curve on many sides, she embraces wholely and completly Being Antiques by Zaar....and adding to her plate a new entity in ZAAR Design Center, where she has invited companies that want to show/sell product in High Point year round, an affordable venue for such. And as an off shoot of this she was presented with the opportunity to serve as the US Sales Rep for the UK based company, Distinctive Chesterfields, which she took on in November 2012.

Also in Fall of 2012, after 13 years in Maine, new residences were established in Stevensville MD and New York NY where the couple split their time.


…Welcome to my world.

It is my business and my pleasure to serve your furniture/decorating needs through Antiques by Zaar, and if making a friend or two or four along the way happens, well that is simply a perk I freely accept, enjoy, and reciprocate.

Thank you to all of our customers, as you have thanked us (see a "small" sampling of the thank yous we have received in the
Testimonial Section under Past Sales.) and look forward to many more years of continuing on in this vein.

Ruth Olbrych

Heart and Soul of Antiques by Zaar/ZAAR Design Center

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