Monday, October 29, 2007

My Dogs Are Barkin' and the Day Is Gettin' Dark

it's always about territory

Funny thing about territory, or maybe it's called a comfort zone, once you've established it, you're reluctant to venture outside its borders.

For the first time a Toronto vintage paper show was held outside of Toronto.

A little back story first.

Marlene Cook creator/promoter of the Sunday Antique Market, the Old Clothing Show, Woofstock, a Festival for Dogs, also created and ran the Old Paper Show, a Toronto tradition since its inception in the late '70s, I think.

Always held downtown, the venues changed over the years but never north of let's say Queen St.

And always an anticipated and well attended show. Marlene then got involved with the creation and running of Woofstock and couldn't devote the time required to produce the Old Paper Show as well.

So a couple of seasons went by without one. And her dealers became antsy.

Jeff and Wendy Gadsden, promoters of the terrific Christie Classic Antique Show, stepped in to fill a need. Calling theirs the Vintage Paper Show, it was also held downtown.

Until now.

With the unavailability of the show's past venues, they decided to make the Vintage Paper Show a part of their successful Vintage Style Show held at the International Centre, out near the airport.

One admission fee got you two shows. Benefits for everyone I think. Attendees for one got the other as a bonus, and dealers who don't normally have paper brought along a few bits to mix in with their regular stock.

I saw many of the downtown people but not all of the usual suspects. On the other hand, we did see a number of faces that don't normally venture into the city. Unless they absolutely have to. Under subpoena for example.

The show seemed well attended, lots of bodies milling around, many with packages, but I don't have any real numbers.

So here's the comfort zone question. How many sales were lost because there's no easy non-car transport to the International Centre? How many sales were gained by accessing a customer base that really hates going into the city?

I dunno, I'm way out of my comfort zone just thinking about it.

As usual, Alan Davis has topically and graphically exciting historical posters

Friday, October 19, 2007

Too Cute For Words

Time for another road trip out to view the fall colors. We picked a great day, all cloudy and foggy, and probably still a little too early in the season.

Oh well.

southworksWe started with a trip to Southworks Antique Mall in Cambridge. The usual assortment of stuff, always a well varied selection, including dealers with seasonal spooky Hallowe'en treasures.

While still in Cambridge though, we found another shop: Greenspot Antiques which is
chock full. Of stuff. Of all descriptions but their strong point, indeed, specialty, is miniatures. Now usually, when I see miniatures or so called salesman's samples, my gag reflex kicks in. Usually they're godawful and cheesy. But these at Greenspot Antiques in Cambridge, truly are wonderful.

I even managed to buy something: a great old silver, crested, Dunhill lighter. Working! Not a miniature, but one to fit my manly hand.

And off to St. Jacobs. This is tourist/Mennonite country and this is definitely where cute comes to die.

First the Waterloo County Antique Warehouse, located just on the edge of town. This I think should be the model of group shops: large, well lighted, lots of helpful friendly staff. (With one caveat, I'll get back to this. Just watch for the steam coming out of my ears. It's not pretty.)

Bought a couple of things and now, food!

We stopped at the Farmers Market (only open Thursdays and Saturdays I think), for quick snoop and had an Oktoberfest (naturally) sausage while P had the apple fritters.

They also had the largest supply of Crocs I've ever seen in one
location, so I bought bright yellow ones. Had to. Couldn't help it. May have to go back for more.

And now into downtown bustling St. Jacobs.

Okay it usually is bustling, but today it was raining. No too much bustle.

It really is quaint in that demeaning way that city people have of phrasing things and they have lots of visitors and tourists taking snaps of all things adorable so I suppose the St Jacobs Antique Mall has a reason for their attitude.

And it's not just an isolated experience, I've noticed it before on previous trips: no dealer discounts, no public washrooms, staff that seems bothered by you. I just kinda get the feeling that they'd be much happier not having to deal with the public at all. Where the attitude seems to be: "This would be a great place to work except for the customers always bothering us and wrecking the displays.
Just send us your money and stay home."

Or maybe it's just me.

I used say that I wasn't in the antiques business, I was in the tourist souvenir business. So If you're going to run a business that's in an environment that depends on tourism for its livelihood, put in a damn toilet that's open to public.

I know people can be pigs and there'll be work to keep it clean. Get over it.

When I was set up at the Toronto Antique Centre I intentionally picked the spot next to the toilets as my location. It was good for business: people had to get by me twice, coming and going; I had two extra chances at showing the merch.

And it worked. People who perhaps had come to see one dealer in particular and hadn't planned on looking through the building, still ended up at my shop.

Nick Graham founded Joe Boxer on this philosophy: The Brand is the amusement park, the product is the souvenir.

And the more fun a tourist/visitor/potential customer has, the more likely they are to take a souvenir home with
them, whether it's a piece of antique jewellery or a two old crows garden decoration.

And it's no fun having to find a washroom. A few other shops have a "no washroom" policy as well. I can understand it if you're a little mom and pop shop, but if you've got multiple staff, you should have a toilet open to the public.

The city should have something available. It may have been but I just didn't see any signs.

And another thing while I'm ranting. I'd picked up a pamphlet at the Antiques Warehouse showing their two other locations: one in Elora, another in Stratford.

Elora is sorta close and kinda on the way back to Toronto so, armed with the map on the pamplet, off we go.

I may be directionally challenged, cartologically challenged, numerically challenged, but folks when I have an address, I can usually get there.

An hour later we're still driving in circles. And we start channeling the Bickersons.

When I got home and checked the website, it seems that there's only two locations now. We were driving around, going nuts, having a marital discord moment, looking for something that wasn't there.

Antique Warehouse people, listen up! Print new pamphlets! Or put stickers on your old ones. Have signs on your pamphlet rack or on your damn doors or something.

Okay I feel better now.

My, aren't the leaves pretty.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Naked in the Library

So there I am leafing through my November issue of Toronto Life and there's this full page ad for Maus Park Antiques. Placed opposite a headline for a Linda Griffiths interview with the headline "Suffragette City", I was amused by the juxtaposition.

I'm easily amused.

You've come a long way, baby.

What a fool I've been. I totally forgot that nudes have been used to sell motor oil antiques for years.

The more I looked at this woman artfully draped (that means the naughty bits are cleverly hidden so we can concentrate on the beauty of the female form without being overly stimulated), where was I, oh yeah, she's draped over these 19th century library steps, the more I thought to myself: "Geez, that looks uncomfortable".

Not to mention painful.

Now, I haven't seen a rate card lately, but I'm guessing a full page ad in Toronto Life is the $12,000 plus range. And I'm guessing Maus Park is no slouch in the antique business, being CADA members and all, so I just have to stare at this ad and wonder: naked in the library, leatherbound books, distressed leather club chairs... I better stop before I do myself an injury.

Personally, naked women have lured me into many shops, but I don't think I'm taking the drive to Paris this time. I'm over it. No more library steps for me.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Once There Was a Time...

You see kids, once there was a time when plastic bags didn't carry a label that warned: Danger! This Bag Is Not A Toy! Do Not Play With This Bag!

Bags encouraged you to play with them and put them over your heads: They had eye holes cut out and happy smiley faces printed right on them.

Kids do not try this at home! We are trained professionals.