How do you bring young collectors into the mix?

Antiques dealers may disagree about many things, but one area where there seems to be broad agreement is that we have to bring younger collectors into the mix.

The English have the right idea. Trade groups there have established National Antiques Day, this year on Oct. 20, as a way of introducing the uninitiated to this world of collecting, history and entertainment.

In America, we seem to have a special day for everything under the sun. In March alone we have:

• Peanut Butter Lover’s Day
• National Pig Day
• Dentist’s Day
• Alexander Graham Bell Day
• Potato Chip Day
• Hiccup Day
• Chocolate Caramel Day (that’s on March 19, and not to be confused with Chocolate-Covered Raisin Day on March 24)
• Quilting Day
• Fly A Kite Day
• Even, and I’m not making this up, Weed Appreciation Day (March 28).

What we need is “USAntiques Day”!

And why not start in the schools? I think that one of the reasons I got into this business was my fascination with history. I had some great teachers as a youngster, teachers who made the past come alive, who allowed me to see the connections between life and art.

And what are antiques dealers if not for-profit historians?

To take advantage of the annual National Antiques Day in England, dealers are urged to contact their local newspapers and radio stations, and extend a special welcome to anyone who has never been into an antiques shop, auction or show.

Here’s how it’s described at www.antiquesnews.co.uk, the “Internet Newspaper for the British Antiques Trade”:

“The aim of National Antiques Day remains to publicize the fact that dealers offer the best value to buyers in the world of antiques.

“If every dealer in Britain participated wholeheartedly, National Antiques Day could achieve publicity worth more than the combined multi-million pound marketing machines of all the international auction houses.

“Many dealers and (antiques show producers) throughout the country at all levels of the trade have already contributed in recent years to the success of this occasion.

“The event is supported by the British Antique Dealers’ Association, and the Association of Art and Antiques Dealers, as well as independent shops, galleries, centers and individual exhibitors at one-day fairs. There have been encouraging results.

“Some of the simplest ideas to encourage new customers and stimulate sales have been amongst the best. The following promotion on National Antiques Day has proved successful for dealers and fair organizers in previous years.

“Dealers take an advertisement in the local newspaper with the headline ‘Enjoy a glass of wine out of an antique glass’, inviting anyone who has never been into an antique shop to visit on the day.”

And there are other suggestions, ranging from balloons decorating shop fronts to radio call-in shows, but you get the idea.

Call or e-mail your suggestions for “USAntiques Day”, or deliver them to me in person at the next Atlantique City show, March 25-26. Visit www.AtlantiqueCity.com for more details.

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