Not only just a place to browse on weekends, antique shops now serve to administer repairs, appraisals and everything in between. The unstable market has forced antique dealers to redefine the classic antique business, making it, at times, a secondhand stop-shop.
Deep within the backroom clutter of Brockton’s Campello Antiques, Ron Bethoney examined two rose-colored lamps.
The lamps had tarnish on their brass bases and needed new cords — small repairs Bethoney makes often these days.
“When I’m done with it, it’ll look like gold,” he said, rubbing the bottom of the lamp.
In a slumping economy, the antiquing business is taking on a new role. Not just places to browse on weekends anymore, antique stores now handle repairs, appraisals and everything in between.
With hard times, appraisers and antique dealers also are seeing more pieces offered for sale but less of the best quality.
“People are just bringing in stuff for us to buy,” said Armen Amerigian, owner of Armen Amerigian Antiques on West Center Street in West Bridgewater. “They’re not bringing in quality antiques.”
And what customers are buying — if they buy at all — are the simpler things.
“People are buying smalls, place settings, tablecloths, instant gratification items,” said Anne Margaret Peck of Days Gone By, an antique shop on West Center Street in Middleboro.
Rita Margolis of Brockton often uses Bethoney’s shop, at 1085 Main St. on the south side of the city, to fix her used items.
“I buy distressed things and things that need to be polished and I bring it to Ronny,” said Margolis, who was once in the antique business herself. “He never says, ‘I can’t fix this.’”
The possibility of possessing a rare antique treasure has people seeking appraisal services, like those offered by Colleene Fesko, an appraiser of 30 years based out of Arlington.
“People are getting things appraised more, but they’re keeping them,” said Fesko, who’s been a featured appraiser on “Antiques Roadshow” since its premiere in 1997.
As more people try to cash in, antique dealers — awash in inventory — are less likely to offer as much. And as demand among shoppers for high-end antiques declines, they are dropping in value.
“If people aren’t buying things, it’s smart to hold onto them,” said Fesko.
Fesko advises those with antiques to have them appraised in order to know their worth, but also urges owners to be aware of the condition of the item.
“It’s important to know the monetary value of a piece, but it also has to be thought of in terms of condition,” said Fesko. “In fine antiques, condition is very, very important.”
Peck finds people are trying to sell household items to antique dealers, believing the items are worth something.
“People are liquidating what they have and selling whatever they think has value. We don’t want to be in the secondhand business, we want to be in antiques,” said Peck, who has been in the antique business for the past five years. “People are definitely selling family items to make ends meet.”
As antique dealers readjust their business and decide what to buy and sell, their services continue to help those with what they already have.
“We fix up whatever we need to fix up,” said Bethoney. “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.”
Brittney Murray can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.