Better times for antiques business? Will economy follow?

It’s spotty and anecdotal at this point, but if you’re looking for some evidence people might be willing to spend again on non-essentials, we’re hearing stuff from some antiques dealers.

A source in our Public Insight Network from central Minnesota tells us she was at an antiques sale in Cambridge, MN recently and started talking to dealers who were upbeat about the business at the Cambridge event and a recent event in Grand Rapids, MN. She says:

They said the show in Grand Rapids was as good as it was 10 years ago, and the Cambridge show was good also. What does this mean?

Having been a dealer for years and now not active because of the low market, it tells me something must be getting better.

Could be that people are buying more used items, and found out they can buy furniture cheaper used than at furniture stores, she notes.

It might also be a green shoot on the economy.

“I think it’s turning upward,” says Bill Carlson, a Twin Cities antiques dealer and board member of the Minnesota Antique Dealers Association, who points to an antiques show at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds in early June where attendance was up significantly from the prior year.

The recession’s been pretty tough on dealers, he adds. “When the economy’s way down people really tighten the belt…discretionary money is tight and if you’re having any kind of financial problems in your own life, you’re not going to be buying antiques.”

Some have dropped out, others are managing to keep going through online sales and consignments. Those “reasonably well funded and are not out on a limb” are holding their own. “Borrowing money to buy antiques is not a good thing to do,” he adds.

The local antiques market will get a get a good sense of direction next week when two major shows set up in the Rochester area, including Gold Rush Days in Oronoco, MN.

“I think the signs are positive,” Carlson adds. “If consumers are willing to spend money at the shows, hopefully the shop business will also turn around.”

8/7 UPDATE: Richard Lee, a Network source and antique dealer from Duluth says he’s not seeing a recovery in the business.

Business still sucks…there are still more sellers than buyers, and when they do buy it’s generally the shelf fill and not anything of any consequence.


Got another take on the antiques business, as a buyer or a merchant? Drop me a line and let me know. Otherwise tell us what the economy’s like around you these days.

Check out the map below for what others in our Network are saying about money issues.

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