The newest iPhone. The latest laptop. The smallest iPod. In a society seemingly obsessed with having the newest, shiniest items, can antique stores and flea markets survive?
Absolutely, according to Cynthia Miller, the business manager at the Shenandoah Valley Flea Market. Miller says new antique stores and flea markets are popping up around the Valley, and that the SVFM is having a very profitable year, bringing in a few thousand customers every month.
The store’s success led to the recent installation of a security system and contributed to a 23-page waiting list of venders hoping for the chance to sell their wares.
Miller believes there are various reasons for the boost in sales. She credits the success of certain reality shows, such as “Pawn Stars,” “American Pickers” and “Market Wars,” with increasing the general interest in older items.
“Everybody’s looking for that great find now, that’s going to turn out to be worth a lot,” she says.
Although there has been a recent increase in business, Miller mentions the store has remained steadily busy since she became an employee six years ago. While the rough economy has decreased business for some companies, she believes it may be an asset for flea markets, which offer affordable prices. Additionally, she thinks the diversity of the merchandise ensures that someone will always be shopping.
“It’s not just for girls, it’s not just for boys,” she says. “And it doesn’t just appeal to one hobby, like a gun store.”
Something For Everyone
The store’s clientele includes everyone from local history buffs searching for civil war bullets to D.C. residents looking for rustic home decor for their summer cabins.
“We also get a lot of time-share people, a lot of tourists driving up I-81, looking for a place to stop,” she adds.
One of these tourists is Debbie Walker, 61, from Myrtle Beach, Ga.
“It’s just interesting,” says Walker, as she walks down a row. “There are a lot of different things and I just find it fascinating.”
Brenda Whitmore, a co-owner of the J & B Country Store & Antique Mall & Treasures in Broadway, agrees that the mixture of items adds to the fun.
She compares shopping at an antique store to participating in a treasure hunt.
“People really enjoy going around and finding all these different things, it’s just a fun thing to do,” she says.
Days Gone By
However, Whitmore thinks many are drawn to antiques for sentimental reasons.
“What I see is people getting enjoyment from finding things that remind them of their mothers or their grandparents,” she says. “They’re going down memory lane.”
Whitmore, who claims she’s always loved older items, experienced a similar flashback when she spotted an old-fashioned nut-chopper. She recalls that the item immediately reminded her of cooking in the kitchen with her grandmother.
Whitmore and Miller both guess that a good number of their customers never intend on using the items they purchase. Reasons Whitmore, “I think they just want to be reminded of a simpler time.”
Contact Katie King at (540) 574-6271 or firstname.lastname@example.org.