I feel a bit sad and wistful about the slow, but I guess inevitable, demise of the antique shop.
It seems these purveyors of old treasures are being consigned to the history books and into the category of old treasures themselves.
The antique shop, much like the DVD rental store, is now irrelevant. Trade Me and other online sites have seen them off.
They’re not all gone of course, many still exist in small towns and urban back streets, a few selling high-end furniture pieces also remain, but the net, rising rents and a lack of new-generation dealers have all contributed to a "dramatic crunch" in the number of stores, according to the Antique Dealers Association.. which is itself now grinding to a halt.
Growing up in an old villa, my siblings and I were surrounded by antiques our whole lives. Every piece of furniture we had was an antique. I don’t remember ever having a new bedside table or set of drawers, it was all old, pre-loved and usually with a castor or drawer runner missing, so a tad on the wobbly side too.
My mother was obsessed with antiques. She knew all the local dealers by name, would spend ages perusing their stores, and often had us lugging wacky odd bits and pieces into the house where she would ‘find a place for it’. Antique books, artifacts, cups and saucers, jugs, rugs and vases. A stack of old suitcases sat in our lounge serving no other purpose than to be gazed at lovingly by my mother.
Ironically and much to Mum’s disappointment, all three of us kids went on to become hardcore modern minimalists, possibly scarred by years of being surrounded by dusty old ‘treasures’.
But latterly I‘ve found myself collecting bits and pieces, or as my brother pointed out one day at my house in disgust, “brick and brack that would be better off in a skip”.
I realised that just like my Mum, almost by osmosis, I‘d acquired an old tea set, a quirky piece of furniture, and an art deco lamp. For Mum’s birthday my daughter asked if we could go to an antique shop to find something for her, she was excited because it would be her first time into such a store.
She loved what she saw as a treasure trove full of interesting collectibles from a time gone by. She picked up a serving spoon, a jug, and a small wedgewood dish within about three minutes.
She loved the way the elderly man serving us slowly wrapped each item in newspaper, ripping off just the right amount of paper so as not to be wasteful. You can probably find the same dish, jug and spoon on the net, but it wouldn’t be wrapped like that, by a man like him, and you wouldn’t have the same experience of stepping back in time.
So I for one, will miss the antique shop experience.