Checking Out The Other 20%

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April 18, 2018
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In March of this year, I had the pleasure of attending the Bowmanville Antique show.  The show has been running for 45 years, and this was the first time I attended.

I operated an antique store for 10 years, and then the antique auctions for the last 22 years, and I have always considered myself a mid-range dealer/antique auctioneer.  In the store I never dealt with high end pieces, and honestly there are only a few pieces that have gone through our auctions I would consider high end.

I am comfortable in the market range I have been dealing in for over 30 years.

However, the mid range antique market has been hit hard in the last few years. Tastes change, values fluctuate.  Many years ago I came across this this quote.  “The antique market is 80% décor driven.”  That was very profound for me and explains much of what we are seeing in the market place today.  Certain items were very hot 10 years ago, and now may sell at a fraction of what they used to sell at.  Items that are very hot today, may suffer that same fate a few years from now.

  Chintz china prices went through the roof 10 years ago.  I could never understand why, but they became very hot. Someone told me Martha Stewart was big on chintz patterns, so it took off.  Now prices have plummeted.  That is a “décor driven market”. The trend is your friend, but in time, your enemy as well!

So, if 80 % of the market is décor driven, what’s happening with the other 20% of the market?  That’s what made me make the trip east on the 401 to Bowmanville to find out.

The Bowmanville show features about 20 vetted dealers in Canadiana. Original paint and hand made pieces rule supreme. You are not going to find refinished oak hoosiers, or pressback chairs at this show. No chintz china or occupied Japan. Some of these pieces are the best of the best, and it was an interesting experience!

 The show opened Good Friday evening at 6:00, and I was told they lined up for hours to get in. I have known two of the participating dealers for many years, so I was confident they would be honest with me.  I simply wanted to know, how are the sales?  Both cases, they told me it had been great!

I was looking at booths with many sold stickers and was a little shocked when I could turn over the sold sticker and see the asking price. $15,000 original paint cupboard SOLD. Others did not reveal the asking price after the piece was sold, but I would assume they were in the same price range.

The organizers posted photos Friday night, and some of those booths looked a little thin by Saturday afternoon. To quote Martha Stewart….”It’s a good thing”.

The hard core, “purist” collectors may not make up a large part of the antiques market, but I also imagine they are not as fickle as the rest of the market.  They love their antiques, and I don’t think they are interested in, or swayed by the trends that influence the majority of the antique market.

Most of us may never buy or sell in the high end market, but it is encouraging to know the appreciation and pricing, is still strong.

Now, what do I do with the 20’ container of Beanie Babies I bought?

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