prtothetrade

Talking ’bout Editors Who Preach to the Choir.

In 1, selliing antques on December 15, 2009 at 3:48 am

Last week a young woman walked into my office, resume in hand. After being on the retail end of antiques for more than ten years, she was angry that mid-level dealers were folding and wanted to talk about things she could do that would make them see the need to change their ways.

“Mid level dealers,” she sad, “won’t change the way they are marketing. They’re all going to go under…if… I’ve tried to teach them but they won’t listen. How do you do it?”

Rather than taking credit for being of the same mind as she, I commiserated. The young woman was talking true.

She talked about the Magazine Antiques not being able to reach anyone under 100, and I had to laugh.  If only they would lighten up a bit.

The Magazine Antiques, like its poor imitator, New England Antiques Journal, is stuffy-stodgy-pompous in its presentation of excellent information. Just look at the covers. There is nothing on those covers that makes you want to reach out and touch.

Now ,look at the covers of magazines with good circulations.What a difference!

When Elizabeth Pochado (The Magazine Antiques)  and John Fiske (The New England Antiques Journal)  talk about reaching young collectors, whom they refer to as Gen X and Gen Y, they do it from an ivory tower. (Presumably mastedon ivory.)

On the other hand, when Southern Accents talks antiques, they bring them to life.  They decorative arts and vintage furnishings they spot light always appear in context.

Southern Accents understands that people relate to people, and rooms that they might aspire to, and talk about decorating their homes, rather than the age of the mastedon ivory, or the articulation and reticulation of the design.  In other words the shelter magazines get it because they understand the market.

The old guard in antiques publishing is  striving to be authoritative and in n so have worked themselves into an untouchable cell.   By positioning the product as disembodied photos all but behind museum glass, they are preaching to the choir. Only scholars, expert or other similarly inclined reader are going to relate.

Art, antiques’ counterpart and rival for young dollars, certainly has found a home in the homes of young collectors. Why? Because it’s hot. It’s hip. It is marketed as a status symbol, a lasting treasure by dealers who mix (martinis), mingle (at social events), market (with ads, blogs, social networks.)

It’s double jeopard when these same editors talk about  Gen X or Gen Y. Suppose, just suppose, you picked up a pub note in the front of a magazine that called  you Gen G (for gray haired) or Gen S (for Senior, maybe even Slow) wouldn’t you think they were talking about someone else? Certainly, that person could not be you.

People, collectors, buyers, men, women are not a Gen, they are bodies with faces, names, desires and opinions. Most have two articulated thumb for texting. Most have the means to buy whatever you’re selling if you engage them in a dialog.

My feeling is that antique dealers, the Magazine Antiques, New England Antiques Journal are afraid to talk like they mean it.  They do not want to engage because then it would be incumbent on them to do it again and again and again. And that would be work rather than cerebral volleyball.



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  1. In fairness to New England Antiques Journal, like other antiques periodicals (e.g., Maine Antiques Digest), it straddles a fence. It’s partly a consumer and partly a trade publication. Quite often, it is addressing members of the trade, not members of the public. The Magazine Antiques has less excuse for a stodgy approach to its subject. Old habits die hard.

  2. We have a mid-level antiques store (or maybe lower level), but are the ONLY antiques biz in the trade to offer an under-30 club discount.
    Yup, anyone under 30 years of age can sign up and get discounts.
    When asked why, we tell people it’s because we BUY from grey-haired aliens and sell to hip city dwellers.

    Kidding aside, we’ve talked to hundreds if not thousands of dealers, and told them to do the same….. no takers! As a business person I lament their foresight when present with such a simple money-maker.

    Like lemmings to the cliff they go, and then wonder why they aren’t seeing new younger customers? Our club is going strong and building each year.

    simple concept, easy to implement.

    See http://greenspotantiques.com/wp/green-spot-is/under-30-club for details.

    Start your own now. There is NO downside.

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