Kent, UK - The interesting question 'Must the trade attract younger buyers?' was raised recently in the Antiques Trade Gazette and the debate has continued on social media. In the ATG Iain Byatt-Smith, fine art specialist and valuer at Bonhams in Edinburgh, put forward the case for attracting younger buyers to antiques. He argued it was time to rethink marketing and branding and likened this to successful rebranding of craft beer.
Iain commented further on Twitter, "It's how we promote them to those outside the industry." He agreed visual images of young people with antiques made a positive contribution. "Particularly from TV and magazines aimed at our demographic. It is," he agreed, "a good time for those young people to buy - prices are more affordable than ever." Follow @BonhamsIain to join the debate.
Some young, and young minded, antique dealers may have already started rebranding and marketing to attract young buyers. Social media has provided a showcase for the visual images of antiques. Those promoting antiques to younger people are sometimes under forty themselves, and members of Antique Young Guns. Instagram images of antiques in the hands of these young people are no longer fusty but look very cool indeed. One example is James Gooch of Doe & Hope who specialise in decorative, rare and unusual antiques from around the world. Follow on @doeandhope.
Fairs and markets are great places for younger people to find a bargain, rummage and discover the appeal of higher value antique pieces that will last a lifetime. Antique Young Guns dealers at our own Salvo Fair in 2017 include the AYG competition pitch winner from two years ago, Molly and Maud's Place, from which Chloe has already booked a pitch (to get the January discount offer). Follow images of their fab picks on Instagram at @mollyandandmauds. Follow too @salvofair on Twitter or @salvoweb on Instagram for announcements from Salvo and AYG about this year's win-a-pitch-at-Salvo-2017 competition.
Blogs are another way of attracting younger viewers. A good blog showcases good images of stock to potential younger customers. Follow Style Salvo for reclaimed and antique inspiration and great images. Another blogger to follow is Eddintheclouds, dealer and new chair of AYG. His recent piece on the return of Art Deco makes a fascinating read and could not help but attract younger buyers to the beauty of '1920s frivolity'.
Many architectural salvage dealers keep up with changing trends by stocking items that younger buyers find appealing such as reclaimed wood, industrial and vintage Mid century modern. Some architectural salvage showrooms like the London LASSCO store at Ropewalk have welcomed in and provided space for smaller dealers to help attract a wider younger market in store. One such purveyor of delightful objects is Marc Kitchen-Smith. Their salvage yard has also showcased young craftspeople working with reclaimed wood supplied by LASSCO itself such as Alfred Newall. Some antiques dealers have focused on recent trends such as MetroRetro specialising in vintage and retro furniture including industrial and Mid century modern. Saxon Durrant, from MetroRetro successfully runs a warehouse-based online business and does a few fairs to increase his sales and make good contacts for the future. Saxon has already booked for Salvo Fair 2017.
Another area for for development Iain mentions is mixing old unique one-off pieces with new. This has long been used to attract buyers. It is a good idea to clearly mark items so customers do not get confused between repro and a genuine antique or vintage item.
Stores such as ABC Home in New York and Anthropologie in London have used this idea to varying degrees of success. Architectural salvage and antiques dealers will happily supply one off old pieces to stores selling mainly new items. George Lily Antiques, a collaboration between George Johnson and Lily Trunfull, has recently announced that personal picks of their stock will be in Home Sense UK, part of the TK Maxx group.
Antiques are often unique one off pieces that come with an interesting past story, can be well-crafted and last more than a lifetime. Reused, reclaimed and upcycled are an eco-friendly choice which appeals to young people caring for the future of the planet.
Antique and vintage pieces are more fun to search for than just ordering a mass produced item. The story of how and where you found them will remain a fond memory. So if you have not yet been tempted why not jump in and discover antiques are cool.
All four images were kindly supplied by Doe & Hope. See their website link below.
Young Britons see antique furniture differently
George Lily Antiques Ltd
Doe and Hope
Molly and Maud's Place
Antiques Young Guns
Doe & Hope website
Story Type: Feature