Saturday, October 4, 2008

Rumors of My Demise are Greatly Exaggerated

It's been two weeks plus since I posted here last, and everyone may be thinking I'm dead, and they're not far wrong: it's deadline for our 20th annual Cochran's Collector's Guide. This means 18-hour days on the computer and the telephone, leaving little time for luxuries like blogging. But I've printed out our first draft, we go to press early next week and there's a bright and steady light at the end of the tunnel that is NOT an oncoming train.

I've been in phone contact with hundreds of people from Washington to Arizona, helping them update their information, welcoming dozens of new stores and a couple of new shows. I've also been hearing sad stories about people I've gotten to know over the years who have retired, lost their lease, lost dear family members. Some antique shops that have been in business for decades have closed their doors. "The economy" was cited as the reason many stores are closing, although in some areas I'm hearing that business is better than ever.

One of the best responses I've seen to lagging business is the shop that decided to send out cards to everyone on their mailing list and host a tea party. Special events require some planning and enthusiasm, demand a fresh look at one's surroundings and how they might be presented at their best.

The warm, inviting Victoria Rose tea room in Clovis was the scene for a recent very successful auction dinner

Speaking of tea, the Victoria Rose Tea Room in Clovis, CA, which also has antiques, just put on its first Auction Dinner, which was such a success it's going to be a regular event. Items in the auction came from many of the stores in Clovis's very active antique row, so everyone was pleased with its success.

Another shop owner reports that every time she gets, dusting, unpacking or doing research on her computer, customers wander in.

I'm hoping many of the store owners who participate in the Collector's Guide will take their digital cameras to work and spend an hour or two taking photos for the free web pages we offer. When the hardcopy Guide has gone to press, I plan to spend a lot of time building new web pages, which offer dealers a chance to display their merchandise on the Internet, even if they don't own a computer or do email (yes, I can scan photos, too). Want to see what I'm talking about? Click on Store Pages to go to the Index, listed by locations. I'm no webmaster, but I'm hoping the photos speak for themselves.

Stores that have active web pages can inject a little excitement into their presentations with new photos, too. I can't tell you how many people I've talked to who say, "Well, yes, we have a website but we haven't done anything with it in a looooong time." Meanwhile, they're paying for a service they're not getting full use of, to be ungrammatical about it.

I love colorful kitchenalia that's also useful. So this hutchfull of goodies photographed at Antique Legacy in Sacramento's 57th St. Antique Row really grabbed my attention.

Blogs are a stupendous way to show the world what you have to offer, and I'm always adding blogs from dealers to my bloglist (hoping, of course, that they'll reciprocate). My latest addition, Antique Legacy at the 57th Street Antique Row in Sacramento. Monica, the blogger, really knows how to beguile with photos of her latest acquisitions. Like me, she blogs at Blogspot, a free service. If you're going to have internet access, why not make the most of it?

Kovels Komments addressed the issue of collectors and the economy this week, with an optimistic view backed by some sound reasons, that "Collectors should be able to survive a bad economy better than most." Read it for if you're looking for a little attitude adjustment.

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