The First of the Young Buyers

Such blunt talk from The Young Collector in Maine Antiques Digest. In the article titled The Last of the Young Collectors? in the December issue Hollie Davis and Andrew Richmond write that the bottom line is that young professionals are not interested in purchasing and living with antiques. No young collectors are coming into the market. It’s not happening, no matter how long we wait. But why are we waiting?

This is some of the stuff I’ve been saying for a while now. Boomers want to sell, but who is going to buy? The authors think the oncoming glut is going to be incredible. Dealers I talk to say prices are already off by as much as 70 percent. Yet when I talk to people who say they like American antiques, a typical response is, “but I can’t afford them.” This idea that antiques are for wealthy old people is still as much alive and well as is the idea that Pittsburgh is filled with steel mills. Neither is the case to any degree.

Davis and Richmond also point out that the industry has wasted time trying to lure these young would-be collectors into the Winter Antique Show and ignored the middle market. This is what I call “waiting”–waiting for the customer to grow up and join the country club. Not going to happen, but not hopeless either. Dealers wanting to interest these folks would do better to go where the would-be customer is—urban vintage markets like the Brooklyn Flea and Randolph Street Market. Don’t brush “flea markets” off your shoulder—high-priced items can and do move there. This is where these “young collectors,” professionals with money live. They’re in urban neighborhoods. They’re not at the suburban country club. If there’s going to be a market for the collections being shed by the baby boomers, this is where it will be born.

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In addition to my work at Stripe Specialty Media and American Vintage Market with Danielle Colby of American Pickers on History, I am also involved with Calendar of Antiques and Urban Art and Antiques. My work has allowed me to speak on the phone with notable architects, filmmakers and politicians including Steven Holl, Julian Schnabel and North Carolina Congressman Walter Jones. I have a Graduate Certificate in Public Relations from NYU, a Masters in Urban Studies from the University of Akron and am author of a chapter on Ayn Rand’s life in New York in the book Literary Trips: Following in the Footsteps of Fame. I love the visual arts, music of all kinds, cities and urban living, bicycle riding, cats and vegetarian cooking. I am happy to have lived in both New York and San Francisco and to now reside in Dallas.

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  1. Regna Kolbe said:

    The real answers are larger than dealers will admit. Please take a look at my blog The Art of Marketing the Fine Arts and the post entitled “A Luxury Conference on Antiques, Auctions and Appraisals.” I’d love to hear you thoughts on this …

  2. Hollie & Andrew said:

    Dear Eric,
    Many thanks for reading and for referencing our column on your site (and for
    adding your own two cents). The more we can enlarge this conversation, the
    better the chances the “trendsetters” in the marketplace will hear us and
    maybe, just maybe, listen.

    There are and always will be collectors, both young and old, and they will
    always be crucial to the vitality of the marketplace. We just feel very
    strongly that by focusing ONLY on collectors, we are missing out on huge
    numbers of potential buyers (the users, the decorators, etc.).

    Thanks for reading and we look forward to hearing from you again.

    Hollie and Andrew