I read a recent article discussing why there should be a National Antiques Week. Although I can see many benefits of a national antiques week, I can also see some potential problems. The article, “A National Antiques Week?” was in the February 2012 edition of “New England Antiques Journal” and was written by John Fiske, the editor-in-chief.
What Is a National Antiques Week?
The basic idea behind the article is a good one. It is to have a week that would focus on antiques and create a buzz about antiques and in the words of the writer, “make antiques seem cool” particularly to the younger generation. One idea would be to get a national campaign with a celebrity to be the face of this campaign, the more well known the better. Fiske suggested it could be someone associated with antiques like Martha Stewart or even someone like Lady Gaga that collects antique cups and saucers. Of course, in my humble opinion, if one of the goals, besides bringing antiques more into the consciousness of everyone, is to attract more younger customers, someone like Martha Stewart is not going to work. It would have to be someone who younger people would say, “If that person loves antiques, maybe I should check them out also.”
How to Start a National Antiques Week
Fiske goes on to say that to create a national buzz about a national antiques week, it will take more than just a celebrity face. To get local and national publications and media to all talk about it will take efforts from many volunteers. He would like to see people form all across the antiques industry, store and mall owners, auctioneers, appraisers, and show promoters. He suggested having antiques all across the country being discounted, say 25% (his suggestion) for one week, at least something more than the 10% off that you can typically get in many stores and malls. Having owned a mall for many years, I know you would never get all antique dealers to do a discount of that much. But in Dallas we had a one week promotion that benefited a local charity and most antiques stores and malls participated and offered a 20% discount for the customers who purchased a buyers card that benefited the charity. That event got all sorts of publicity locally because the major newspaper was one of the sponsors.
Fiske also suggested having a weekend of free appraisal clinics at antique malls and auction houses. Stores would also offer free refreshments and larger ones might offer live music. He also suggested an antique show in every region, either an existing one or a new one with “National Antiques Week” in the title. There would also be a promotion by both the promoters and dealers in the shows. I will cover this more later in the article, but I see this one being very difficult to accomplish.
He also, wisely, said we need to link antiques to the green movement more than we do now. I mean if antiques were passed down from one generation to the next, think how many trees would be saved, not to mention all of the stains and finishes, etc. I have seen signs saying something to the effect, “Antiques, the ORIGINAL Green Industry.” Younger shoppers have said the link to antiques and green awareness is an important consideration when choosing antiques. For this to be successful, Fiske stresses that all sectors of the antiques industry will have to be involved. The success of a National Antiques Week will depend on the number of stores, auctions and shows will participate. The UK first tried this about ten years ago and it just now achieving some of its goals. Do we in the antiques trade have the patience to put in the efforts that might take years to achieve the desired results?
The first year would just lay the foundation for the following years. Hopefully it would pick up steam each and every year. Stores and dealers would most likely see the most immediate results with increased sales that week. I think it would be the most difficult for show promoters. So many of the large shows like those at Round Top, Brimfield, and Nashville’s Antique Week, have dealers that make a living doing shows. Many also have stores or mall spaces. If they have a store, they surely wouldn’t want to close to do a show, same for some mall dealers. Those that do shows could only be at one of the shows. Many show dealers do multiple shows and say National Antiques Week took place the same time as one of the huge shows, say Round Top. That would not help regional shows if many of the dealers of that area went to Round Top, which has dealers from all over the US as well as from other countries. It might be beneficial to do it during a week that had a big antique event associated with it already. But then you go back to the problem of some of those dealers might not want to leave their shop or mall if this huge event was happening. So that might be a problem for any show promoter trying to attract dealers during this week. Maybe show promoters should only participate to the extent of promoting a National Antiques Week to increase awareness and try to attract more people to be interested in antiques.
His idea would be to have one individual to be in charge of trying to organize this with the help of a small advisory committee to help made up of one antique store owner, a mall owner, auction owner, and a show promoter. I would also try to include a member from the interior designers, which Fiske did not mention. Many designers are not incorporating antiques in the interior designs like they once did. The idea of a National Antiques Week has may promising possibilities, but there is much work and discussion still needed. For a National Antiques Week to become a reality, someone is going to have to pick up the ball and run with it.