TITTLE TATTLE AND TANTRUMS IN THE TRADE MARCH 2012

There’s an awful lot of talk in the media these days about how hard it is becoming for pensioners who were expecting to retire on £25,000 a year and are having to manage on £20k. I feel sad for them, of course, but then I look at the age range of the dealers in our trade and know that many of them still trade into their 80’s because they don’t have a choice! As someone who has been in the trade since I was a wee bairn I know how they feel. Very few of us had the foresight, or perhaps the spare cash, to put into a scheme of some kind and so now we fulfil the old saying that antique dealers never retire. They can’t afford to! In some respects we were right not to trust the hard pitched pensions sellers but that’s another story.

That applies to one group of older dealers but there is, of course, a second group and they are the ones who only began trading when they retired. They are generally the fortunate ones who have begun trading as a hobby, perhaps with the added bonus of making a few extra pounds, and from it they have gained a new social group and a new or perhaps renewed interest. This group are easily identifiable at fairs because they usually hold out for higher prices because they are not worried if they make a sale or not where the old stagers like myself see any profitable sale as a bird in the hand and one not to be missed.

The sad thing is that inevitably members of both groups are inclined to suddenly fall off their perch and with very few younger dealers on the horizon our numbers are dwindling. I have said for ages that we need to encourage new dealers, of all ages, because we need them. If our numbers diminish too much there will be nobody to help keep the rest of us in our old age and it appears the hand-outs will be even smaller by then.

Although we tend not to see them too much there is a new and enthusiastic group of younger dealers but they have been enticed into a different part of the market. The vibrant part of the trade is now the Vintage Fairs, usually totally separate events from the Antiques and Collectors fairs even though essentially we sell much the same stuff. The pull at these events is the Vintage clothing and accessories with home items taking second stage but clothing apart there is a huge overlap.

The other interesting thing is that although these events are usually well, or even very well, attended the organisers do very little conventional advertising. It seems that the visitors to such fairs are almost a club in that they know when and where they are by word of mouth or on- line postings.

I think that the long term survival of our trade depends on merging these two groups in one way or another and by organisers, such as myself, attacking the publicity side of things in a new and more personal way.

So, to do my bit I have created a new Facebook page called, guess what, Tittle Tattle and Tantrums in the Trade and a Twitter page called Tittle Tattle TB-C and plan to use both to make things more lively. If you want to be part of it then sign up and follow or join in and chat, post details of where you are going to be, what you think and so on and so on. I don’t think for one minute that I will be the saviour of the trade through it but every little helps and with luck it will draw in some new blood and keep what blood there already is flowing.

However, there is no replacing page 2 or occasionally page 3 of the Trader. The most read paper in the Antiques Trade and the Bible of Fair information and updates.

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