Sunday, August 9, 2009

Back from New England...

Five days and about 1,500 miles. That's a long trip. We saw lots of this:

It's a good thing we like each other because we spend countless hours on roads like this.

But take another look at the photo...beautiful scenery, no? Sure, a few gray clouds in the sky, and the orange signs signify that construction headaches may be coming, but we like to think more positively. This is a beautiful stretch of road...but what's just around that bend may be even better.

What's this have to do with collecting antiques? Plenty. We went to New Hampshire with a healthy amount of optimism. Maybe we still have a while yet in this recession, but the marketplace has shown some signs of an upward swing of late. And we weren't disappointed - New Hampshire has bolstered our optimism. Dealers were selling and prices at the Northeast and Skinner auctions bracketing the week were good.

What we found most interesting is something we've seen at other shows the past 12 months or so. Prices are down. We know that they are at auctions, but they are at shows, too. Dealers, at least those who want to make sales, are adjusting their prices. And it's working!

We don't expect prices (at auction or at shows) to return to what they were 5-10 years ago. But that's okay. In fact, it's good. (We even had one dealer express relief that prices have come down because "things were getting out of hand and unaffordable" for a while.) We're in a place where we need to attract new collectors, and it will be much easier with lower prices. Let's face it, if you're telling young folks that they should collect, it's hard to convince them if they need a big bank account. Now, it's possible to buy very good antiques at very reasonable prices. We, as dealers and auctioneers, could, and should, start talking about value when we talk about the antiques we sell. If you're talking to someone who needs a place to store their skivvies, you can talk to them about getting the most for their money. How about a new slogan: Antiques. Better style. Better value.

So let's look at bends in the road with some hopefulness. Even if the orange signs mean stop-and-go-traffic for a while, it might allow you to enjoy the scenery for a change.

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