When it comes to the world of antiques, Bob and Loretta Kretchko are seasoned professionals.

Full of knowledge and passion regarding everything historical, the Kretchkos have turned what was once merely a hobby into a full-time business.

It has been 25 years since the two met at an auction and "decided to join forces," leading to the creation of Bob Kretchko Antiques.

After the birth of their business, the couple said they "decided to do antique shows and travel all across the country seeking out their pieces."

As times changed and the Internet became prevalent, the Kretchkos developed an Internet presence and began selling most of their antiques online at their www.rubylane.com store.

"There are over 160 items listed presently, and the prices are right there for potential buyers to see," Loretta Kretchko said. "They can buy directly, pick up their item, or we can ship their purchase to them."

Prior to founding Bob Kretchko Antiques, Loretta Kretchko, a New Milford native, worked with the William Raveis Antique Homes Division selling real estate up until "times got really bad."

"My work with William Raveis emphasized my interest in antiques," she said. "Then, when real estate got slow, a friend asked if I'd assist him at his antique shop. Eventually, I went on my own."

Bob Kretchko's past is similar to that of his wife, working previously as a buyer for a supermarket chain, "a suit and tie type of job." Antiquing was always just a hobby until he decided to open his own shop in Pleasantville, N.Y.

The couple spent approximately 15 years traveling the country running their business and eventually slowed down 10 years ago when they purchased their New Milford home.

Located just north of the north end of the New Milford Village Green, the Kretchkos restored their 1880 house and barn, winning a plaque for the preservation of both buildings. The house holds special meaning for the couple.

"For years, I'd been a collector of New Milford Wanoppee pottery, and coincidence had it that our house was built by the founders of the Wanoppee pottery, William Diamon Black and Sarah Sanford Black," Loretta Kretchko said.

Friend and client Carol Carroll, who has known the couple since they teamed up, emphasizes "the antiques business to the Kretchkos is not just a business; it is their passion and their life, along with their dogs."

"I can't think of two other people I would recommend any higher" than the Kretchkos, Carroll said.

Although most of their selling business is conducted online, they still do antique shows here and there, mostly on the East Coast.

"We show at Brimfield, Mass., three times a year; Madison, N.Y., Atlantic City, N.J., and Bethlehem, Pa. Really here and there," they said.

Although they do not have a shop open to the public, they offer antique consulting for anyone trying to sell a piece.

They are always looking to buy.

"Call us up. We'll go to your home or wherever the antique is located, and we'll look over what you have," Loretta said. "If we're interested, we'll make an offer."

"If it is something we are not interested in buying, we will guide you to where it is best to sell your piece," she said.

Longtime friend and client Iris Arenson-Fuller credits the Kretchkos for the wonderful business they have built.

"They are honest, reliable and value their integrity in business. ... I have often recommended them to others and have not hesitated in doing so," Arenson-Fuller said.

When discussing their favorite part of antiquing, there was no hesitation for either partner. They both agree buying is where they find the most joy.

"Buying antiques is like a treasure hunt," they said. "We go all over the place in search of the treasures."

The Kretchkos buy and sell a wide range of periods, from pre-Victorian up to the 1960s.

A great deal of their antiques are fine American, European and Asian, including silver, clocks, paintings, porcelains, glass, country store, penny arcade, Americana and other better collectables.

Aside from antiquing, the Kretchkos are extremely active in the town of New Milford and its preservation, sitting as board members for the New Milford Trust for Historic Preservation, as well as the state and national trusts.

They are also members of the New Milford Historical Society, TheatreWorks and the Greater New Milford Chamber of Commerce.

For information, call Bob Kretchko Antiques at 860-354-4759, or visit www.bobkretchkoantiques.com or www.rubylane.com/shop/bobkretchkoantiques.