Traditions and Discoveries
by Maxine Carter-Lome
As we close out our 2019 editorial calendar with this December issue and head into a new year, I celebrate my fifth anniversary as the owner and publisher of the Journal of Antiques and Collectibles and the magazine enters its 20th anniversary year.
If you’ve been a long-time dealer, collector, or enthusiast, you know the antique collectibles market has changed considerably over the last two decades since this magazine started.
As a community, we’ve moved from Main Street to Cyber Lane, print to digital, antiques to vintage, and brown furniture to comic character collectibles. The impetus behind collecting has also changed, from a desire to preserve history and curate intentional collections of best examples to collections that reclaim our youth with memory-driven objects, to viewing collectibles as a commodity and investment. This shift in the antiques marketplace, from who collects, to what we collect, where, and why, has had a ripple effect that has forever changed the collecting landscape.
There is no doubt that the Internet has been one of the biggest disrupters in the traditional antiques marketplace. Online auction sites, search platforms, and company websites now offer buyers and sellers—collectors, shop owners, auction houses, and enthusiasts—access to a global market of highly targeted prospects; however, all this technology has come at a cost to many people in this industry that we have come to know over the years.
Long-time antique shop owners wax nostalgic for the days when going antiquing was an active rather than passive verb; when their shop was the destination, not a distribution center for their online business. People came through their door – browsed, talked, and hopefully walked away with a few new finds. Relationships were formed and local communities built based on shared interests. While many of us still find inspiration in personally visiting shops and going to shows and auctions, millions more now enjoy the convenience and search capabilities of an online marketplace with front door delivery.
This marketplace shift may have taken buyers off the street, but it has also exposed millions more who might never have found themselves inside an “antique” store to all manner of antiques and collectibles that they are now more inspired to purchase and collect, for whatever reason. These new enthusiasts are now finding their way to flea markets and shows as a fun way to spend a day, breathing new life and energy into long-time shows and markets concerned about the future of their business.
In the wake of the closing of so many single-owner antique shops along Main Street, we are also seeing a rise in newly established or restyled multi-vendor shops, markets, antique malls, and cooperatives cropping up across the country These new businesses are marketing themselves as a destination, showcasing a range of authentic antiques in booths side-by-side with items more appropriately and aesthetically-labeled Americana, vintage, shabby chic, primitive, mid-century modern, industrial chic, country farmhouse – many that have been repurposed and upcycled. This broader selection under the antiques umbrella, and the use of new “buzz words,” is being adopted by show promoters, as well, in their marketing efforts as descriptors for the types and range of items now represented at their shows. The result is interest from a new market of buyers who might not necessarily self-identify as “antiquers” or “collectors,” but through exposure may discover their inner collector gene while nostalgically reconnecting with items from their childhood.
In our role as a market publication for dealers, collectors, and life-long learners interested in the stories behind antique collectibles and collections, we are on the front lines of these evolutionary shifts with our advertisers – antique shops, show promoters, collector clubs, museums, and auction houses. Like us, these businesses are looking to adapt and change to take advantage of all the new and different ways to now find, communicate, and connect with their customers and new prospects, wherever they may be. We have done that by introducing a digital version last year and by introducing a free, monthly e-newsletter, but, as our readers tell us, nothing beats print when you sit down for a good read. Just like nothing beats the thrill of the hunt from the inside of a store or at show or auction.
We hope the information we provide each month inspires you to more actively engage in the marketplace and search for your passion for the items from our past. And what better time to hit the antique shops near and far than during the holidays, when a step in the door will bring you back in time. In this issue, we have curated a Holiday Shopping Guide of over 72 antique shops around the country to inspire you to visit someplace new and shop antique stores and shows for all the connoisseurs and collectors on your shopping list.
All of us at the Journal thank you for spending time with us each month, following us on Facebook and Instagram, and for all your words of encouragement for the columns and articles we publish. You can take a sneak peek at what we have planned for you in 2020 on page 43. Happy Holidays, and if you are in the Central Mass area over New Year’s, please join us at The Antique Collectibles Show at The Host Hotel on New Year’s Day.
Traditions and Discoveries