Time for a Change and Changing for the Times

  • March 05, 2012 16:07

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A Regency style table and chairs set with a Mid Century style
Heather Karlie Fine Art and Antiques
The 'Alex' coffee table in reclaimed Jacaranda by Mid Century designer Sergio Rodrigues, circa 1960's
Heather Karlie Fine Art and Antiques

It had to be done.  Re-invention is the stuff that keeps us young.  In the moment.  Fresh.  And in doing this, just how do we keep our feet on the ground?  How do we build on our foundation?  How do we grow?  We hold steadfast to our traditions while always looking to the future.  This is the new 20th Century Tradition.  


Many of my colleagues have agonized over our business and the direction in which they perceive it to be heading.  Where is the antiques buyer of today and tomorrow?  These dealers simply cannot understand how today's client is not interested in antiques.  I'll tell you how.  Today's client thinks of antiques as old and dusty.  Things their grand mothers collected.  Things that were in the house and could never be touched.  With every visit to grand mom's house an exercise in walking on eggshells, who could be happy thinking of buying such things?  Well, for me it is all in the presentation.  Antiques are old.  20th Century is now.  Seems like it's time to re-package our business.


And the chain store retailers have done just this.  They have taken the best design of the 20th and 19th Centuries and turned it into mass produced furniture lines.  Have you heard the old saying that there is nothing new under the sun?  Sure you have.  And I'm also sure that you've seen that in our business.  You look around at the chain retail stores selling mass produced lounges, consoles and the like.  You shop at the big box retailers and see furnishings, carpets and lighting for $19.99.  You wonder how to compete.  Quality.  Originality.  Knowledge.  Today's client is just that, a client.  Someone to be taken by the hand and educated in our fine business.  The twenty, thirty and forty somethings of today have a disposable income to furnish their homes and apartments, but they need some direction.  In our fast paced internet world we are bombarded on a daily basis by coupons, web only offers and every type of social media you can think of.  Where in all of this can an antiques dealer fit in?  Right in the thick of it.  

Hommage to Isadora Duncan, an oil painting in the classical style by Maxwell Simpson, Circa 1933
Heather Karlie Fine Art and Antiques


Use these tools to your advantage.  Put your inventory on line.  Build an email list.  Build accounts, followings and subscribers on the social networking media.  This is how we can re-invent our business while maintaining our same inventory.  Show your soon to be clients how your amazing 19th Century sideboard has great Modernist lines.  Allow your clients the opportunity to become collectors.  Quality is always in style, it's up to us to show our clients how our inventory is in style.  


I like to think that I am one of the lucky ones to do what I love.  To surround myself with beauty and to make a living at it.  To have a hand in bringing tradition into today's society.  This is the stuff that dreams are made of.  And sure there have been ups downs, slow months where sales have been off.  But that is the nature of the business.  These ups and downs can be seen as a constant motivation to analyze our business.  What is selling and why.  What isn't selling and why.  Maybe you'll find the answers, probably not.  More likely you'll refine your taste and your clients will notice.  You will grow and in turn they will too.

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20th Century by HKFA - To the Trade

Fun stories about flea market finds, antique shop treasures and yard sale exclusives! Oh, and then there's the research!

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