Can Antiques Make You Happy?

I just finished reading an article on CNBC about purchasing power and happiness. Turns out consumers are moving away from conspicuous consumption and researchers are discovering that experiences can make you happier than purchases. On the surface this may be bad news for art and antique sales. Me thinks however that antiques are different. There’s a hunt involved, and that’s an experience. There’s history and stories and that’s an experience. Moreover before you write-off antique shows, of the four main business channels–internet, auction, retail stores and shows, it holds the most promise for providing an experience and for providing the social interaction that is at the core of the reason why an experience correlates better with happiness than a purchase.

What do you think?

About Eric Miller

Eric Miller is co-founder and contributor to Urban Art & Antiques. His website is ericmiller.me

3 comments

I think you’re absolutely right, Eric, it’s all about the hunt. The adrenaline pumping, happy feelings and nostalgia lead to a purchase that’s emotion based and different from a typically rational purchasing decision. Finding art and antiques at shows is a sneak attack and that’s really addictive and need we say, a super FUN experience!

Regardless of the increasing availability and popularity of buying online – yes, there still exists the desire to see ‘in person’ and to examine up close the most relevant of items we purchase. This is part of the connection we make with the things . Experiences.

Shows promote the creation of new collectors and in this respect they are critical. I know of no one who has learned antiques entirely on-line or through a book alone. The process is hands-on and always should be. Presently, technology creates exposure, though not necessarily enthusiasm and knowledge in new buyers.

The downturn has been the perfect opportunity for consumers to re-set their spending habits. Is ‘cheaper’ really cheaper in the long run – or does it simply require faster replacement? Is being a trend follower really who I am? Can I justify the environmental impact of buying newly made, easily cast aside goods? Is the battle for the cheapest, costing our country jobs? Isn’t quality, in the end, a better investment of our time and attention? These are all great questions to ask.

Hands-on experience is a powerful part of what we chose to buy. Is the antiques online experience presently adequate to relay the right message, or communicate the right values – or does ‘online comparison’ simply encourage us to look for the cheapest price?

Our home reflects our core values, more so than any other expression of ourselves. Some say that one’s home is never ‘complete’ as it grows along with us. Shouldn’t tangible experiences be part of that? I suspect that the trend towards ‘experience’ spending is a direct response to the intangible experience of internet comparison shopping. While I think there is a place for both – a balance is critical to creating new and informed collectors.

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