Saturday, September 3

An Old and True Thought

I wrote this piece a couple a years ago, and it is still one of my favorite writings.  So with the newer format of a Blog coming into being, I'm sharing it here.  Enjoy!

Thanks to the quite early morning hours of the day, there's always time for coffee and quiet contemplation. One day, as I was reading the morning dose of doom --aka the newspaper-- it occurred to me that we merchants in the antiques business attempt to thrive in the toughest business on earth! 

The major grocery stores easily beckon your dollars week after week. Why? You need food, obviously. Your body takes it in, works it over, attempts to live in spite of it, and then throws it out. You need more of the same.

The automotive industry works on the same principle. As we build bigger and bigger communities, the need for the 4-wheeled monster grows. It demands your money day after day. You fill the tank, drive to work and drive home-- drive to school and drive home-- drive to shop and drive home. Drive till the tank runs dry. So goes the spark plugs, the tires, the muffler and the rest of the vehicle as well. You need more. 

The big business of education has the same philosophy too. When you look at the long term goal of smarts and degrees, how could anyone argue? We send our little dears off to pre-school, then kindergarten, then elementary, then high school. Now they go on to college for 4 and then on to masters and eventually doctorates for some. The more certificates on the wall, the better we seem to feel. Somehow more is better. 

But the antiques business has it all backwards. We who have chosen to keep the flames and artifacts of history alive and well don't get it. We don't accept that an endless supply of "a thing" is necessarily a good thing. We try to convince our customer that this "XX" will last another 100 years because it's made so well. Or we say, this "xx" is rare and only a few exist. It's unique. We insist that recycling life's goods is a good thing while we seem to live in a sea of throw away needs. 

Ours is a special task and one that needs the fires fanned by the guard at hand. Antiques merchants are faced with the job of re-training a customer base who have been grossly conditioned by the mass producers of the throw-away world. Lasting quality is a virtue. Non-throw-a-way goods are an asset. A cheap look-alike is not necessarily an equivalent substitute. Quality may seem to cost more upfront but it is always cheaper in the long run. 

Some things you just can't duplicate. It's the variety and uniqueness of each lasting treasure that makes life interesting and worthwhile. Ours is the business of nurturing that thought. The job is to keep it alive.

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