Antique Trader Inbox: Letters to the Editor 4

Now that we’ve made it through the holidays, with enough time to reflect on the year that’s just passed, 2007 brought a mixed bag to the business. At the top there was plenty to buy, but in the trenches – in the shows, shops and auctions – there were conflicting messages depending on the season. As always, the Internet brought its blessings and its curses.

I’m not much of a prognosticator, but if I had to guess about what 2008 will bring, I’d say we’re heading into another gray year. There’s the usual worries – gas prices, the economy – as well as a few variables, like the presidential election in November. All markets react in some way to a change in administrations. There is, however, always hope. It could well be the year that the business swings back into form.

What Antique Trader wanted to know from readers a week ago was how the year 2007 was for them – either as a buyer or a dealer – and what their prognostications were for 2008. Here’s a sampling of the responses we received.

If you want to get into the conversation, send your thoughts to noah.fleisher@fwpubs.com. You can also go online to www.antiquetrader.com and sign up for our weekly e-newsletter, featuring all the latest from Antique Trader.


Noah:

I own a business that liquidates estates. More than any market trend, I find the dominant influence in my business is the increasingly widening schism between the two types of relatives involved: On one hand is the television-influenced crowd that thinks everything is worth a fortune, and on the other hand are the ones that just throw all that “old trash” in the landfill.

Of course the former are the ones that call me, while the latter go about their business of throwing away valuable items.

I have seen this trend become stronger as time goes on (I have been in the business for four decades) and 2007 was the worst year I have had.

If only we could all educate the public towards a more reasonable approach…

Richard R. Old, Ph.D.
Estate Services


Noah:

We specialize in vintage Hawaiian collectibles, or Hawaiiana. We closed our brick and mortar store four years ago after nearly 35 years of retail. Now we sell on our Web site, eBay, antique shows and directly to our longtime customers.

Our business in 2007 was as good as we wanted it to be. The better items always sell for a good price. It’s just a matter of what we are willing to part with, as with all collectors/dealers.

We could generate net income of $20,000 a year or $50,000 depending on our needs. Now as for the typical booth in the typical antique mall, or the average antique store, that’s another story. Just look at eBay. There are thousands of listings that are not particularly unique all competing with each other.

In order to succeed you need to have unique and desirable items. You should have a specialty such as Victorian clothing, or antique jewelry, Rosewood pottery, etc. The only way to develop a strong customer base is to have a niche that will keep them coming back to you.

So, 2008 will be the same. Don’t expect to offer an eclectic array of mediocre items and have strong sales.

Evan Olins
Kailua-Kona, Hawaii


Editor’s Note:Antique Trader asked a few weeks ago if our readers had “Holy Grail” antiques that they would trade their collections in for. A few responses are still rolling in.

Noah:

I’ve collected milk glass figural plates for more than 30 years and have never found the Negroes and Watermelon plate in the reference books. In fact, in this time I’ve never seen one for sale anywhere in malls, shows, flea markets, online, etc.

Even knowing this, I wouldn’t trade all my antiques for this piece – or any other. As beautiful as they are, they all pale in comparison to my wife, children and grandchildren. These are the truly important things in life.

John Ruff
Stuttgart, Ark.


Noah:

I finally got to you. My choice for one big item? A Faberge egg…

It was my first thought and 10 days later I still consider it my choice. I really do enjoy reading your editorials and am a collector of about six different things: Ladies compacts – mostly foreign, contemporary art glass, Southwestern black Indian pottery, Eskimo soapstone carvings, Oriental art and old art pottery. My collections would probably be worth, total, quite a bit.

I’m 85 years old and one thing like a Faberge egg would be worth it all.

Eunice Rowe
Sandusky, Ohio

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