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.