This past week, I spent about three hours in my favorite antique mall in Ohio. After the first hour, I began to sense something I had not noticed before. Lots of REPRODUCTIONS. These days, the woman who is decorating her house is no longer an antique purist. She loves her new contemporary farm house look complete with some wonderful antiques. Take a 2nd look. These aren't antiques. HOME GOODS and the myriad of Korean, Chinese and Mexican decor pieces are brand new. And because these items come from these countries, the items can be purchased for cheap. The photo is a grouping of wood dough bowls. The ones pictured are older than the hills. My friend sells these. He knows they are reproductions. But they're cheap. And that is what you Vintage Farmhouse shoppers are looking for.
The antique business has taken some huge hits from several sources:
1. HGTV: galvanized metal items, typography signage, painted furniture; thank you joanna gaines! i read a great article lately that says the houses that the Gaines group edited with their Magnolia look, complete with ship lap and tin roofs are over priced and not sale-able. It's great to have famous people design your decor, but they used new items that are throw-away....along with the "farmhouse" trend that is so far away from the "farmhouse" that I know and grew up with. Give me a house to decorate and I'll show you real FARMHOUSE. You'll have to be able to cook.
2. The Internet: every person who lives, is now an authority about antiques. With one quick look on ebay, that rusty tonka truck with missing parts is now worth a fortune. To me it's just an old item that someone didn't take care of. Today, I'd call that junk. Your posts on Marketplace with retail antique prices are still just used furniture. Keep it real folks. I have worked since I was in my 20's, looking through collector price books, reading Kovel's and talking to my antiquer connections. Glass blowers, furniture upholsterers, Tiffin, Cambridge, Fostoria past workers. We learned the hard way. Piece of glass, by piece of glass. I get a kick out of all of you who bought really great furniture from me and painted it robin-egg-blue. I see it on marketplace all the time for my retail price. hmmmm. Good luck.
3. Antique shows, allowing non-antiques in their spaces. It used to be, you went to Antique stores and malls and they sold antiques. Now they are letting it slide a bit and allowing everyone to clean out their basement. For we antiquers, that is a bad thing. It takes us longer to dig through the stuff. And often we get caught up buying reproductions and items that don't really belong in our collections. Dumb us.
4. Mike & Frank on the "American Pickers": At first, I was pretty interested in this show. Actually, there is still some merit to the show. But the inflated prices have caused you all to think that your things are worth these exorbitant prices! These men are filling their high rent commercialized stores. It is not where we live. That is for sure. Same goes for the "Antiques Roadshow". The Keno Brothers have been doing antiques since they were teenagers. The furniture they appraise is New England/16 colony/Williamsburg stuff that brings top dollar in any venue. This is not Henry County, Ohio!
3. Pinterest, painted furniture and minimalistic gray. When the father in the family was joined by the woman supporting their family with power jobs/careers, the house home-fires changed drastically. Women are exceptionally busy these days, and the idea of maintaining your home by yourself is much easier with a clean sweep of the Dyson and a magnetic duster. No glass, not much art, just items you need. Only functional items....in your minimal way. I have said before, the lack of tchotchkes also means i can't recognize the personality of the homemaker. believe me, i get it. Organizing is a lot easier if you don't have all that extra stuff.
4. One of the biggest "hits".....you come in my shop and say: "no one is buying this stuff anymore". Keep saying it. tell everyone in town. I think you should take an ad out....(still can't figure out why you're in my shop if no one is buying this stuff). When you wanted doors, we bought doors. When you wanted windows, we bought windows. When you wanted garden stuff, we bought garden stuff. There are still collectors out there. There are still folks who know that buying a piece of Wood furniture that was handcrafted a century ago is still holding up and will continue to hold up for you for another 100 years. There are still crafters out there who are looking for parts and pieces.
I will continue to hang in there. Of course, the antique business has changed tremendously in the 10 years that I've had a brick and mortar business. But I'm still selling. Every trend comes around again. There was a year when my mom "antiqued" all the wood furniture in our house avocado green and slapped an american eagle on it. Ten years later, she was stripping all the furniture with Formby's.....right back to it's original state.
Can't wait to see what the next trend will be.