Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Ya gotta be kidding me...

I just encountered one of the most ridiculous things I've seen in a while.

Know what this is? If you answered "a dingy old tennis racket that you can buy at any yard sale for $2.50" you'd be right. But what a sexy photograph! Who is spending big bucks making used sporting goods look so fantastic? Pottery Barn....ack!!! Described as bearing "the rare character and timeworn beauty of a vintage piece," you can buy their "PB Found Tennis Racket" for the bargain price of $199.

TWO HUNDRED BUCKS??!!!??!! Plus $21 shipping, of course.

The antiques trade needs to find these buyers. Seriously. We could joke about them having more money then sense, but the reality is, anyone who would buy this item from Pottery Barn has a desire for vintage and antique, and they are willing to spend money to satisfy that desire. Their problem is simply that they don't know that we exist. We need to seek these folks out and get them to auctions and and shows and watch their heads spin with excitement. I'm not quite sure how to reach them yet, at least without spending big bucks on advertising, but we're thinking on it. Any thoughts?

Many thanks to our good friend LaGina Austin (from Skinner's Americana Department) for bringing this to our attention (because we don't, thankfully, get PB catalogs.)

(Yes, by the way, the nifty objects next to the tennis racket are simply old books with their covers torn off and bound with string....nice.)


gabriellebegue said...

It's infuriating, yes. But the people buying these $200 tennis rackets are doing so because they don't have the patience or vision to go to an auction or antique shop and comb through for the good stuff, or for what might work for their needs. They want to be told what's unique or remarkable, and Pottery Barn is doing that kind of curating for them while also mainstreaming the aesthetic. These buyers are not very adventurous and are quite likely not going to relish a good hunt at a flea market.

james conrad said...

" I'm not quite sure how to reach them yet, at least without spending big bucks on advertising, but we're thinking on it. Any thoughts?

Well, I think you have pretty much nailed it, advertising is most likely the only way to effectively reach them. Most industries have organizations that do that as well as lobby congress & educate the public about their products, services. The antique industry needs a group that thinks about these issues all day, everyday. Naturally, one of the problems with this is the antiques industry is loaded with mom & pop type operations and getting them to form as well as fund an organization to promote their industry is going to be tough.

Vintages said...

It is amazing to see what some "upscale retailers" price these vintage pieces. YES, please send these buyers to our antique stores. We could save them money and give them information and education about their acquisitions.

Thanks for the blog. It is a resource for me to keep in touch with what the "next generation" is treasuring.

Hollie and Andrew said...

I was in an antique mall the other day and saw a framed display, very nicely done, of 2 vintage tennis rackets, a couple of balls, and two vintage cans of tennis balls. Wonder what Potter Barn would charge for that? This dealer had it priced at about $60.

EDGE said...

....and when the buyers of the $200 tennis racquet get tired of it and bring it to an auction or dealer to resell, What will happen next is the auctioneer or dealer will be called a ripoff for only offering $5.00 for the old racquet, if that.

Mike L said...

As a racquet collector, I find it amazing that somebody would buy a racquet, sight unseen, from the Pottery Barn. The racquet in the picture appears to be a "common" from the 1890-1910 period (they got that wrong, too), and I'd call the value at about $30. It would be really funny, though, PB were to slip up, and send out an older, more valuable racquet. The differences can be relatively subtle; the best of these: might fetch $100, while this one is worth probably $10k:

To the point of the blog entry, much of the generation coming into their collecting prime now is used to being told what is good. They buy BMWs, not because they understand cars, but because BMW runs cool commercials and charges a lot. More expensive is better, right?

I did notice that the price has been reduced to $99. What a bargain!