Publisher's Corner: October 2015

Maxine Carter-Lome - Publisher

“Picking” Versus “Shopping” Your Next Find

Although we are both collectors, my husband and I have different philosophies and approaches when it comes to where and how we like to hunt and shop for new additions to our collections.
I like to browse and shop for my finds in settings that visually and aesthetically appeal to me. At an antique show or flea market, I tend to gravitate towards booths where the merchandise is creatively and interestingly displayed. They feel more welcoming and less exhausting to navigate. The same is true when I walk into an antique shop or mall. I am always drawn in by a thoughtfully-designed booth or display, and the opportunity it provides to really see the merchandise in its best light.
My husband, on the other hand, enjoys the challenge of finding what others have yet to unearth. He’s not afraid to roll up his sleeves and get dirty, wading into dark spaces and places in the hunt for a new acquisition. A booth I would overlook or pass by as being too cluttered and not worth the effort is one that for him could contain the something he’s been looking for. (These days it’s albums. He is on a one-man mission to buy back every album he ever owned and sold when we started replacing them with CDs.)
While some buyers and collectors like my husband enjoy a more hands-on acquisition experience where the effort of the pick is rewarded by the find, others, like me, enjoy a sensory-rich browsing experience. That’s what we love about flea markets and antique fairs – both experiences co-exist; however, where and how we find something definitely influences how much we expect to pay for it. In a no-frills environment, my husband expects to find or make a deal. On the other hand, items cleaned and creatively displayed are positioned to command a premium price, and the accompanying environment less amenable to haggling.
Successful retailers know that consumers act differently to the sensations and stimuli around them, and practice the art (and science) of visual merchandising. The time, attention, and investment made in good visual merchandising can increase sales by 10-15 percent in a retail environment. Having said that, you also need to know your customers and what they are looking for.
Many consumers believe they are purchasing products when they shop but in fact are purchasing the experience of shopping. The way product is displayed (or not) and promoted can have a major influence on their behavior – from where they shop to what they buy and how much they are willing to spend.
The customer experience is a key factor in retail sales, especially in such highly-competitive sales environments as antique shows and flea markets, where dealers are literally side-by-side with their competition for shopper dollars. What that experience looks like, however, is as varied as the items antique lovers, collectors, and enthusiasts love to shop for. But one thing is for sure – the extra effort and time spent cleaning, displaying, and promoting your wares will pay off, and help you draw in and do business with the customers you seek.
Speaking of antique shows and flea markets… The Journal of Antiques & Collectibles is getting ready to produce its annual Show Directory for 2016. We distribute this important, comprehensive resource nationwide in our January issue, and make the information available all year long ó online and in the magazine ó in our monthly calendar of Antique Shows and Auctions. Information about listing your 2016 shows and flea markets will be mailed out soon but is now available on our web site for convenient online submission.
Want more show and auction news in between issues and all year long? Like Us on Facebook (JournalofAntiques) and visit our new web site for news on upcoming shows, auction results, articles of interest and other information to keep you active and engaged in the antiques and collectibles marketplace.
Maxine Carter Lome, Publisher
Publisher’s Corner: October 2015