New businesses are opening

If the day-to-day grind of making a living in antiques is getting you down, take a moment to think back to the day you decided to open your first business.

Ideas. Jitters. Excitement. Freedom.

All of these feelings were probably going through your mind as you mustered the resolve and decided to make a go of it in the hectic, crazy and unpredictable world of antiques. It’s truly wonderful to see new antiques related businesses spring up across the country considering the economy of the last few years. Auction houses in Ohio, Arkansas, Wisconsin and Washington have opened in the last six months. The businesses are bringing energy, fresh ideas and are making good use of their resources.
I suppose it’s not surprising to see this shift.

People seem fed up with banks, 401Ks and the bureaucracies of letting other people watch their money. The millions of people who have lost their jobs during the last two years are re-evaluating their definition of a fulfilling life. Starting their own business is a logical solution when other jobs are in short supply. They are showing up at auctions, shows and shops with a renewed curiosity for childhood playthings, fine art pottery and unique objets d’art.

Perhaps this influx of new talent and ideas will be just what the trade needs in catering to a changing customer base.

In Ohio, Jo Valentine started The Antiques Auction Gallery in Sunbury. She employs the services of her dealers at her Valentine Antique Gallery to help appraise and vet the auction lots. Her partnership with Ohio auctioneer Cynthia Schillig has created a one-stop shop for antiques enthusiasts.

New shops are also opening nationwide. For an inspirational story, don’t miss our question and answer feature on page 34. Shop owner Calvin Whetstone turned his childhood home into an attractive antiques shop last year. He is the second generation in his family to sell antiques and he couldn’t be more proud of his trade or his merchandise. Last summer he held an “old-fashioned” picnic for the loyal customers on his mailing list. Next year, Whetstone is considering inviting dealers to the picnic and creating booth spaces nearby to sell some antiques.

Meanwhile, in Aiken, S.C., the North Aiken Flea Market has opened to the public. Launched with a modest 20 vendors, the market was created by a collector who wanted to share the love of antiques with others. The endeavor is hardly a cash cow for owner Corina Burkle, who rents her 40 spaces for just $5 each.

Burkle’s modest beginnings sounds a lot like how one show started 50 years ago: Brimfield.

Eric Bradley


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