I am of the Baby Boomer generation born between 1946 and 1964. Our parents, most born after WWI and before the Great Depression, lived through WWII, were products of their own experiences. So from their perspective security was the founding block of that generation. They had grown up during chaos. Many saw and experienced first hand the insecurities and loss, and would never escape the nightmares of it. They wanted nothing more than security for their family; the white picket fence, the house, the children. You get the picture, or you lived it the life experience .
Antiques was a huge business back then. My wife remembers her parents going “antiquing” in Connecticut up in the Litchfield area when she was on the way to summer camp. They were looking at furniture. The stuff of primitive’s dreams. Simple farmhouse tables, dry sinks, corner hitches and cabinets. Some of that is still selling well. Not for the values it held then. American Coin Silver was king for a time back then. When that generation downsized their collections, the Baby Boomers were there to collect. So the Antique cycle stayed active.
At some point you have to downsize. You find the larger home is no longer needed, the children are grown, who needs the expense, find something with a smaller footprint for ecology, and economy. Simplify. The Victorian antiques now need a new home, and are not going with you. You like your children, want furniture which is simpler and easy to deal with. Some things stay, the Arts & Crafts table and chairs which work great with simple living room open dinning room kitchen. Simpler lines. The Art Nouveau Vase by Emile Galle stays, some things just will not get downsized. The point is, your children just don’t want or need, 90% of the stuff you have. It goes to auction. My advise. Don’t go. Don’t even look at what it went for, you do not want to know. Look at it this way, you bought it because you loved it, you lived with it, now it goes to someone else. Will it be valuable again. Yes. in about another 20 years or so. There are cycles. and right now the cycle is downsizing.
You ask why? Simple, housing is expensive. The millennials are the generation most want to sell to. They are basically defined as being born from 1982 to 2002. Many are still in their teens. Those who are adults now, many have not yet hit thirty. Thirty is a reality check. Most who are now adults;
13% live in or near downtown cities, 63% live in other city neighborhoods or suburbs.
55% are renters, they pay a median of $925 a month, 21% live at home (they plan to move out in five years), 14% of millennials live in a household with three generations.
18% of all Millennials , that is 27% of those actually rent, share housing with roommates; 58% would love to have their own place.
Here is the important part, 60% work full time, 15% work part time, 27% feel they are underemployed.
Almost all expect to own a home eventually, though they are not sure that owning a house is a great investment. 9 out of 10 expect to live as well if not better than their parents have economically.
What does all that mean? They are renters mostly. Or they live at home. They share their housing. Housing is expensive. Not all are working, or working full time. You need to have a place to put antiques if you want to collect them. Hard to do without the money or place to put them. This is the generation as a dealer you want to sell to , they are the next buyer generation. Unfortunately, they are not ready to buy like my father’s generation was or mine. Maybe not as interested , but down the road another generation will be.
Keep that in mind as a dealer. Be flexible. Keep in mind, you love the stuff, but no, the sales are not what they were even 15 years ago. It won’t be like that for 20 years. Pass on your knowledge to another generation who does care, then they will be ready to be great dealers. In the mean time, look to the trends and do what you can.
You have a whole set of china. Great. The stuff is wonderful. But be prepared to break it up. Your buyer may only want the desert plates, or the tea cups, or the dinner plates, to use with their plain white china (which they love) from Crate & Barrel. Keep that in mind. Same with everything. Be prepared to think outside your perspective, your experiences. Ask them how they plan to use it, get ideas. Even if you sell on line, communicate. Ask to see a picture of the items being used. It will give you new ideas.
My wife loves simple lines. She loves Ikea, she loves Mid Century, Primitives, Farmhouse. I love Victorian. So we have a mix in our house… to keep the peace. Somehow it works. She loves this farm table. It has stood up through many grandchildren’s projects, many clock repairs, and some minor disasters. It has simple lines, the perfect work surface, two drawers, and two cutting boards. It works in today’s world, even in our small, Mid Century home, with open floor plan.
That is a great buy even by Crate & Barrel standards. Even better, it was much cheaper than anything I have ever seen in there. Everyone we know wants that table, even the grandchildren! I have a grandson who calls “dibbs” on it!
No, it won’t be up for sale for another 20 years! Maybe not even then.