Nov 14, 2014

Vintage Store Psychic?

OK, this post is just for fun.

Every week, I sort through dozens of videos looking for decent content to link to from this blog. The kind of videos I look for are informative, clearly written, and not too cheesy.

The attached video was just too strange to pass up. We've all met some odd enthusiasts in the antiques business, but I've never seen anything like this.

Roxanne Elizabeth Usleman may be the real deal. She may be able to divine the past life of a garment. Lord knows, if some of my old clothing could tell their story I might have to start burning my cast-offs rather than giving them to Goodwill.

If you're for real, Ms. Usleman, please accept my apology and write me a scathing rebuttal. I promise to print it.

In the meantime, dear reader, please judge for yourself. I recommend that you play this at full-screen for the maximum effect.

Deciding Who Gets Mom's Belongings

Mothers Day
“When I’m gone,” said Mom about a year ago, “I want you each to have back the gifts you’ve given me over the years. I’ve marked them all with a sticker on the bottom.”

My siblings and I shot quick glances at each other; we hadn’t expected this. We had gathered at Mom’s for our annual Mother’s Day dinner, and I suddenly wished that my gift to her this year had been a vinyl Duran Duran album.

Sister Kate said what I was thinking: “But Mom, I gave you those gifts because I wanted you to have them. I don’t want them back.”

“It’s only fair that you should get back what you gave me dear, and I insist,” Mom said in her Stern Voice. I was well familiar with that voice; when we were kids proclamations in that voice were always followed by “I’m counting to three!” as if doing so could magically bend the universe to her will.

I hadn’t given much thought to Mom dying, at least not in an immediate way. I suppose she was right to be thinking about how her personal possessions would be distributed after she’s gone. It’s best to have a plan in place. Cousins Ralph and Teresa nearly came to blows over a couple of Christmas tree ornaments when Aunt Judy passed away two years ago. It’s odd what family members place value on. Sometimes we get really attached to an item as we grow up. When a sibling becomes attached to the same item, deciding “who gets what” can become a difficult decision. Dividing money among heirs is easy. Dividing personal property can be a major challenge. Read More >>>

Nov 13, 2014

Biedermeyer, Neo-Classical and Mid-Century Modern Furniture

The starting point for any appraisal is to know what you're looking at. There has been so much stylistic overlap in furniture manufacturing that sometimes it tough to determine exactly what "style" or "period" a piece of furniture is based on.

The furniture pieces in this video by interior designer Cathy Hobbs are wildly divergent; there isn't much (stylistically) to connect the Austrian Biedermeyer of the early 19th Century to American Mid-Century Modern of the 1950's.

But, when the features pointed out by Ms. Hobbs are consistent within the styles, it's much easier to determine if a given piece is a good example of the period or a mix & match of several styles.

In general, the defining characteristics of the styles shown in this video are:


  • Simple geometric shapes
  • Not much carving or ornamentation
  • Use of inlays and specialty veneers
  • Addition of Classical (Roman) columns, pediments, domes, and arches


Neoclassical is a broad term that embraces several furniture styles: Biedermeyer Louis XVI and Empire) that utilize classical Greek and Roman archetectural motifs. Picture in your mind Roman columns and spas, and those elements are likely to be included in Neo-classical furniture.

Mid-Century Modern

Mid-Mod furniture was manufactured from about 1935 to around 1970, mostly in the US and Scandinavia. The most-recognized furniture of the period is the bleached blonde mahogany dining sets of the 1950s. If you watch re-runs of the old TV show "I Love Lucy", you'l see that Lucy's apartment is filled with Mid-Mod furniture. Other characteristics of Mid-Century Modern furniture include:

  • Clean lines
  • A variety of materials (including plastics, fiberglass, teak, and metal)
  • Painted and colorful
  • Expose joinery, like dovetails and rabbet joints.

Nov 12, 2014

Keeping Up With Payment Systems Technology

A recurring scene in futuristic movies shows a character paying for a purchase by touching the screen of a hand-held device, or swiping a wand across a terminal. Thirty years ago such an act was certainly the stuff of science fiction. Today, this payment method is a reality. The future is here.
That is, except for some antique dealers who remain in the payment-processing Stone
Infographic courtesy of: Community
Infographic courtesy of: Community
Age. You know the ones I mean: Checks and cash only, or sometimes layaway.
While entertaining out-of-town guests last month, I stopped at a local antique mall in a tourist town. My guests spent about an hour perusing the mall’s three floors, selecting a few items that could easily be packed in their suitcases for the flight home. They were flabbergasted when they got to the check-out and found a sign that read “No Credit or Debit Cards Accepted, Cash or Good Check Only.” Wanting to hold on to their cash, and not carrying a checkbook (Who carries a checkbook anymore? Isn’t that what debit cards are for?), they expressed their dismay to the clerk and returned several hundred dollars’ worth of merchandise to the shelves.
The following week I phoned the mall owner and asked him about his credit card policy. He steadfastly maintained that he has never lost a sale by not accepting credit cards. When I told him of my recent experience, he said that as far as he knew it was the first time that had ever happened in 20 years in business, and that gaining one sale wouldn’t begin to cover the expenses of accepting credit cards. Read More...

Buying or Selling an Antique Business? Proof of Profit Trumps All

On a regular basis, I get phone calls from dealers seeking advice on how to best sell their business. Most of these calls are from long-term dealers who want to retire but aren’t quiteAntiques shop sure how to go about closing up. They all have the same question: Is it best to just sell off my inventory and equipment and close the doors, or should I try to sell my business as a going concern? (“Best” meaning “Which way will net me the most money?”)

My answer is always the same: If you have a profitable business, an established location (or web store or show circuit) and three to five years of financial statements (income statements, balance sheets and tax returns) then you are probably better off selling your business as a going concern. If not – or if you’re in a hurry to sell – then the better choice is to liquidate your assets and move on. If you’re not in a hurry to sell, then start keeping good financial records, wait three years, and then sell. Read More >>>