Sunday, November 6, 2011

"A house is just a place

to keep your stuff while you go out and get more stuff."
~George Carlin


If you are a regular reader, you know I lost my "BFF" of 35 years in August. This past week I talked to her husband about "stuff" that she had accumulated over the years. We laughed about the George Carlin bit where he goes on about "stuff." I deal in stuff so I know the trappings of stuff. But, many times the "stuff" only has meaning because of the person who owned it.

Sometimes stuff can be wonderful...I am now selling two more magazines in the shop...this one is full of ideas about what to do with stuff~Romantic Country (I still have Romantic Homes)and Vintage and Victorian...which I really love! They will be available quarterly, and I am offering them at a discount...which brings me to an interesting topic...pricing...the antique market is a crap shoot at best. All of this is technically "used" merchandise, and prices used to be determined by averaging auction prices and asking prices from a variety of sources with price guides as a grounding force, but now prices are all over the place. People see things online...ebay was the best of times, the worst of times. It did level the playing field, but then you have someone for whom money is no object...and now a $10 item is suddenly "worth" $100!

A friend and I did a "busman's holiday" the other day...by the way, when I said that to someone in one of the shops, I could tell by the look on her face that she had no clue...it dates back to 1893 in the UK. The idea is that a busman, to go off on a holiday, would take an excursion by bus, thereby engaging in a similar activity to his work. Anyway, I was a bit overwhelmed by the prices.For example, a pretty Victorian plate or a simple wine glass...I saw similar items priced anywhere from $35 and up for similar plates and stemware ranged from $10 each to $20 each. Now, I know this is a market where a suggested retail price might be based on maker...provenance...from the French provenir, "to come from", referring to the chronology of the ownership or location of an historical object, but we are in an economy where the prices of the 1980s and 1990s are no longer valid. Face it, nothing is worth what it used to be, including that house to put the stuff in!

I think many younger buyers have been scared away from the antiques and vintage items because of prices and just the feel of an antique mall-just merchandise with tags on. Yes, TJs Home Goods is just merchandise on shelves, but it is cheaper even though it is from China. They want the look...they do not care about "provenance." Fair prices though can be put on items without treating them as museum quality merchandise. Perhaps, the prices reflect people who are in this business for the fun of it, not to make money. I confess that I am in it for both...but I love to buy so I have to price to sell! How many antique shops or malls have turned from the wonderful old stuff to made in China, or shops that simply closed rather than try to fight it?

But, down off my soap box...and speaking of priced to sell, my elf has created a round of bird houses for the little guys this winter...here is the new section of the porch also...And the transformation is just about complete...
I am trying to keep the shop fun...with no sticker shock...for many "antiquers" the fun is in the hunt...but what fun is it if once you find it, you cannot even think of buying it...still as this quote embodies...

“An object in possession seldom retains the same charm that it had in pursuit.”

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