Antique shop owners getting creative

Antiques dealers across the South are coming up with a variety of creative solutions to get customers in their shops. From cafes to special sales, shop owners cannot afford to wait until the economic climate gets better. Thankfully, many are seeing some bright spots.

Lilly Shaw, of City of Gold Antiques in Villa Rica, Ga., said business has been slow. Customers are looking for small items, but they are justifying each and every purchase. Shaw specializes in furniture, Civil War memorabilia and coins.

Alice Farstad, owner of the South Louisville Antique and Toy Mall in Louisville, Ky., said business is better than expected. The mall has been open for 12 years.

Collectors are buying a cross section of antiques but toys seem especially popular. “People ask what the cost is for admission because there’s enough antique toys to be a museum,” she said.

In Jacksonville, Fla., Bea Ketchum said, “the customer count is up, sales are down” in the Avonlea Antique Mall. She says sterling silver, artwork, coins and military memorabilia is selling. Ketchum has been open for 14 years. “The cheap and expensive sell more than the middle of the road,” she told Antique Trader magazine.

To help boost sales, Ketchum sells homemade food from small deli inside the shop.

Don Neher, owner of Memories Antiques and Gifts of Charleston, S.C., said kitchen items, vintage containers and assorted “decorating things” are moving well as are “smaller, more unique items,” he said. “More antiques are selling than collectibles.”

An interesting aspect of Memories Antiques and Gifts, which opened three and a half years ago, is that retired schoolteachers, one of whom was inspired by her daughter who was born with Down’s syndrome, run it.

Traffic at the International Market Place in Columbus, Ga., has been increasing in the last few months. The business is housed in a 43,000 square foot building that also houses a flea market and the antique mall. Owner Allen Woodall said attendance is also picking up at the World Famous Lunchbox Museum housed within the building. 

In Lake Park, Ga., the Farmhouse Antique Mall and Gallery is in the middle of one of its better shopping seasons.

“Sales are great,” co-owner Bob Flinn said. “There’s a lot of highs and lows, no rhyme or reason to the buys.”

Alan Jones, Tom Johnson and Jeff Revels and Bob Flinn have owned the shop the last 5 of its 14 years. It has approximately 14,000-carpeted square feet that house antiques and collectibles offered by 16 dealers.

What’s selling at the Farmhouse? “‘Going Green Nation’ has affected antiques,” Flinn said, “there is a recycling movement and antique furniture is going up, but also Depression glass, jewelry, books and pottery.”

Mary Anna, owner of Ellenton, Fla.’s, Feed Store Antique Mall said although business has been slow, customers are seeking valuable and practical items such as coins, jewelry, paintings and pictures. The shop has been open for 12 years and has 50 quality dealers and is located less than a half-mile from I-75, exit 224.

Jewelry is also selling well at the 12-year-old Jewels and Junk Antiques of Cisco, Tex. Owner Judy P. Ward told Antique Trader that business has been up and down with jewelry, advertising and kitchen items selling well. Customers visiting the north central Texas shop have moved away from glassware, she said.

Dot McDaniel, owner of the East Brook Flea Market and Antique Mall in Montgomery, Ala., said both the mall and market are full.
Customers are snapping up furniture, glassware, books, old records and vintage clothing. The shop has three floors and has been open for 17 years.

Next issue: A look at the North.