Sunday, April 8, 2012

"Here comes Peter Cottontail

Hoppin' down the bunny trail
Hippity hoppity
Happy Easter Day."
I am probably going to get some folks "hoppin'" with this post…but if they hop to thinking, then that is a good thing.

One of my business forums posted a link to a site…One Kings Lane…and that mail order site added to their typical retail offerings (which, by the way, undercuts the small retailer) the section called “Vintage.” Along with that, they have a video validating vintage as excellent buying choices. Now, I am in hysterics because, when I opened my shop over 20 years ago with fun “stuff” from the 20s and 30s, many of the true “antique” people would “Tsk, tsk” as they viewed the merchandise since it was not really “antique,” that it was just "collectibles". No longer collectible, the economics of secondhand retail is making it legit by calling it vintage...or retro!

I have been through the research, and, yes, antique is 100 years old…and I have discussed that in earlier blogs. The only real law concerning the definition of the word antique comes from the US customs office, an antique is anything 100 years old or older. In the United States, the 1930 Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act defined an antique as “works of art (except rugs and carpets made after the year 1700), collections in illustration of the progress of the arts, works in bronze, marble, terra cotta, parian, pottery or porcelain, artistic antiquities and objects of ornamental character or educational value which shall have been produced prior to the year 1830.”

So, this is an antique…
this is not…
We have One Kings Lane offering “Vintage” as a buying category and in a video promoting "vintage," they have various "experts" calling it…"a point of view…has age and a soul…has been somewhere.” I am so definitely “vintage”! Then, there are prices…prices are shown “marked down” also. I have to give J.C. Penney’s credit at this point for just setting up fair prices.

Antique/vintage dealers would do that except in our world people have been told to bargain. I am still trying to figure out why it is all right to walk into a small shop...antique, vintage, retail...and ask for a better price. No one would do that in Macy's or Anthropologie. So, in many shops people just mark the merchandise up so that they can give the 10%, 20%, whatever…and make the customer happy. But, how nice it would be to walk into a shop…see a price and know that is the price (that is my shop!). Do people negotiate over the internet on prices? And, does the consumer factor in shipping? And, if everyone started with a reasonable price for an item, would that not be nice? It would not scare off buyers. It would prove logical. I look at some prices on this One Kings site, and I think...WOW! Unless one lives in a totally isolated area, the item could probably be found in one of the local antique/vintage shops for far less.

I wonder as the small shops disappear, and everyone has to become mail order consumers will they recognize what they are losing. I said I would be writing off and on this year about the B & M shops...the brick and mortar shops...the mom & pop shops...the by real live people who try to give you a neat shopping experience...remember the line from Joni Mitchell (and I actually think some modern groups played into it)...

"Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot"

Or, in perhaps a rather expensive mail order web site...


The Cinnamon Stick said...

With 28 years of retail under my belt I have seen it ALL - or so I thought. A quick story - a woman was in our store with a friend and she saw a wooden bucket priced $39. (definitely "Vintage" not Antique). She was all besides herself as she grabbed it and whispered to her friend..I bought one like this on Ebay for $85. I feel like I am "stealing" this. She actually thought the Ebay price was right and I didn't know the worth of the bucket. I learned that day the "worth" of an item is what someone is willing to pay for it. Anyway, she left HAPPY!! (and so was I)!!

Anonymous said...

Had a lady in the White Whale who asked for a better price on a $3.00 item. I told her that $5.00 would be better for me! She didn't think that that was funny. Good insight on the business.

The Attic Girls said...

^ anonymous made my day and I hope I can remember that line someday! Another great post Susan. Keep em' coming!

laura said...

Great post, Susan. People complain when there are fewer and fewer indies to shop at but then they are the same ones who say ' oh, I ordered all my Christmas gifts online this year'. It is the indies that make up the character of a place, not the big boxes.
Our cities are becoming very homogenous.

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