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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Confessions Of An Antiques Store Worker: What's The Best Thing About Antiques

As some of you know, when I'm not sneaking around Florence (the official antiques capital of Colorado) gathering tidbits and photos for this blog--I occasionally work in an antiques mall.

Of course, part of the job is answering the phone and attempting to answer people's questions on the phone. You would not believe some of the phone calls I answer.

 I consider some of the phone calls a testament to what a friendly and welcoming town Florence is. One semi-recent phone call was from a woman who had passed through Florence years ago and had stopped at the antiques mall and thought it might be a nice place to relocate to. Florence--not the antiques mall. I always ask folks to call back when the owner is working--but folks keep asking me questions, so I answer. Yes, Florence is a wonderful place to live! Friendly, community-minded folks. Yes, real estate prices are very good. Low crime. Banana-belt weather. Very active music, arts and creative scene. And antiques galore.

I got a phone call from a gentleman from New Mexico this week. I didn't get his name--but I'll call him Jim.

Over a decade ago, Jim had rented a space in the antiques mall for a brief time. He had never returned to Florence since moving--but recalled what a professional and friendly person the owner was--and wanted to chat and get advice, now that he was opening his own antiques store in New Mexico.

I asked Jim to call back when the owner was working, but he started telling me his plans to open a store and we got to chatting for nearly a half hour.

Jim asked me what sold nowadays in antiques stores. If I had been asked that a few years ago, I would have not known how to respond. I sold online for years. Then stopped selling antiques for a few years and a few years ago, I started working in several antiques stores. And of course, putting my own items in the stores I worked at.

I can't speak for the entire antiques market in the United States. But around here, Florence (as the antiques capital of Colorado) does draw other dealers from surrounding states. They often comment that the prices here are generally much lower than other parts of the country. And we get semi-local dealers that bring their Florence finds to the larger metro areas. And we do get a fair amount of locals who don't care what's "hot" in the antiques world.

I told Jim that rusty sells. Old window frames. Little widgets. Farm-type things. Generally linens and china and clear glass are out--unless they are fine specimens or very inexpensive. And small furniture.

I'd say over half the customers are looking for a widget or rusty "farm" item to make a project. They are upcyling or recycling. Sure, people come in the shops and buy furniture or a stand-alone piece. But more often than not, they are looking for an item to turn into their own personal work of art.

I became fascinated with this trend and in other blog posts, I have a few stories about what people find in Florence and what they plan on doing with their items.

One dealer in Florence told me that the market has changed from a collector's market to a decorator's market. I find that partially true. I meet collectors all the time. But I do meet more decorators--but I meet even MORE creators than plan on a new vision for an antique or collectible.

Antiques (in our market at least) are not something to be collected just for the prestige or potential investment so much anymore--they are sought to be something more personal and worked into a larger project, gift or statement in their homes.

And even though I think about what people are planning to do with their purchases, I didn't think about it as deeply until Jim asked me, "What do YOU like most about the antiques business?"

That gave me pause. Sure, I like antiques and collectibles. Some give me a huge case of the giggles--because I have never understood clown collectibles or doilies.

Here's basically what I told Jim. "I used to be a newspaper reporter. (Yes, I really was--in a town much like Florence.) And what I like most about the antiques business is the  stories. The stories behind why people are buying things. What it makes them feel. What they are going to make. What memory the antiques evoke."

That's exactly what I like. Even more than the antiques themselves.

For example, a customer was buying a bowl the other day. She chuckled and said the did NOT need one more bowl. But she LOVED them. I said, I had about 30 bowls. She said she had about 50.

But she had to have one more. And she didn't know why. "Well, I'll tell you why I like bowls,," I said," They remind me of being a little kid and baking with my mother and her always letting me scrape and lick the cake batter or cookie dough bowl."

Her face lit up. That was exactly it. She had her own bowl memories--of good food and family and good times. There is nothing like a good antique bowl to not only connect with present family and hearth--but to almost reach back through to long-gone generations that gathered in the kitchen to see what was in the bowls.

I am not sure antiques dealers are really selling antiques. They are selling memories. And in the newer market--they are selling components for people to make projects and decorator items and make new memories.

Yes, that's what I like the best about the antiques trade. Not the antiques. It is the smiles and past memories and future memories the customers honor me with by sharing their stories with me.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Florence, CO: Watch The RIALTO THEATER Kickstarter Film

The Rialto Theater was completed in 1923 in the small town of Florence, Colorado. For many decades, that historical jewel has sat vacant while attempts have been made to restore her.

She started her place in the community as an opera house, but went on to be the center of the community and host vaudeville shows, movies and more.

The Rialto is one of the few remaining opera houses in Colorado that still is substantially the same as it was nearly 100 years ago. And it is also one of the few theaters anywhere in the country that boasts a 50-foot fly tower.

Right now there is an urgent need to raise funds to complete the restoration and a Kickstarter campaign is underway. But there is less than three weeks left for the project to be funded through Kickstarter. View the fantastic Kickstarter film here:

FLORENCE, CO: New STEAMPUNK & Wine Festival Youtube Video

It's happening April 9 and 10 in Florence--the antiques capital of Colorado! Florence is also the NEW unofficial steampunk capital of Colorado.

See if you don't agree, and attend the second annual Escape in Time To Steampunk & Wine Festival. Not only is this festival one of the premier steampunk events in Colorado--the festival is held against a backdrop of a real pioneer town filled with Victorians, historical buildings and other architectural and artistic delights. AND the town is home to over 20 antiques shops and galleries that have a huge selection of steampunk, industrial and Victorian items all year round.

Check out this fantastic new YouTube video featuring Florence's steampunk festival: