More signs of why its less than the best of times for the antiques, and in particular furniture business. The National Association of Home Builders says homebuilders are feeling less confident about their ability to build homes for Americans who are at least 55 and older. These folks, members of the Baby Boomer generation, have been the mainstay of the antiques industry.
So far we’ve been keenly aware they’re downsizing, but until now we’ve assumed that’s been into condos. This latest report however says NAHB’s measure of condo sales in the senior age bracket also is weak. Unable to sell their homes, people in this age bracket are turning to rentals. The group says the rental market is experiencing a surge in demand for this group.
What’s happening to their suburban homes? You may be interested in this recent New York Times article about McMansions becoming college student ghettos.
Unfortunately for the antiques and furniture industries, it looks like there will continue to be more selling going on than buying, at least among Boomers.
So what’s a dealer to do? So far this answer seems to have been to concentrate on the very high end. I’d like to suggest another way. Market entry-level to mid-range items to Millennials (Generation Y). These folks were born iaround 1980, making the oldest around 30. Sure, many don’t have jobs, but that may mean they can’t afford Pottery Barn. The situation won’t stay that way forever, and this group is huge. Find customers and make friends now, and that relationship has the potential to be there for the long-haul.
There’s other things to love about this group. Research shows they like to shop for price and dump a brand if it gets costly. They trust advertising, are civic minded and want real solutions. They use technology, like to multitask and need stimulation. If you don’t walk the talk, they’ll write you off. If you say antiques are green, they better be green. They make up almost one-third of the population and they’re going to live a long time.
Want a testament to the power of this generation? I have three words for you: Occupy Wall Street. Learn live and love this generation and you won’t go wrong.