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Going Green: The Vintage Advantage

Going “Green?” Everyone is doing it. This is a subject that makes many antique dealers smile. Most of the more than 50 dealers at The Antique Store in Wayne have dedicated their lives to preserving artifacts for future generations. This goes hand and hand with reusing and recycling materials. Recently, I visited a “Green” web site where all products were made from 100% recycled materials. Think of the energy wasted in re-manufacturing, packaging and shipping these products made from recycled raw materials! It made me wonder why anyone would spend money for lessor quality, mass produced products when for a similar cost they could buy a truly 100% recycled, zero carbon footprint product, and support an independent local business at the same time. Volumes have been written on the environmental advantage of durable verses non-durable goods but we still continue to purchase merchandise from discount retailers.

In recent discussions with those interested in recycling, several people have mentioned that being environmentally conscious is a mindset. Frequently, we buy something newly manufactured and mass-produced because that seems most convenient. We purchase things and have them shipped to us from across the country, ignoring the enlarged carbon footprint due to transportation. Antiques are truly environmentally sound. When buying an antique, we can feel good about not depleting our natural resources because we are using products that have already served a generation or more. When we buy anything local we reduce the energy costs involved in transportation. How much more economical it is to reuse quality items, rather than dispose and replace simply because the quality of the new piece was poor to begin with. A quality piece of furniture does not need be a rare, expensive antique. Older furniture made from real wood will not cost any more than the imported, mass-produced, glue and formaldehyde stick furniture you will need to throw away in five years.

The inherent “value” antiques offer is obvious to people used to buying them, but for many newcomers it may not be. Here is an example that is a way of life for most antique dealers. Every time I move into a new house I need a different kitchen table. Growing up in the antique business, of course I choose an old one. Sometimes I am able to trade in my old table for another old table that is better suited to my new kitchen, and other times I am able to sell my old table since it retains and often increases in value over the years. Our culture of planned obsolescence does not encourage this mindset. Had I decided to buy a new kitchen table every time I moved it would have just contributed to the waste building in landfills.

Think of the uniqueness antiques will bring to your home and to your future gift giving. A simple gift can become a treasured heirloom because of the value an older piece has. Imagine the recipient of a new book that you ordered on-line and had delivered, and they think how nice. Now imagine instead that you browse the shelves of an antique book dealer for an older copy of poetry, history or some other book of interest. These pages have been read, loved and maybe even cried over but now they are being entrusted to the person you choose. I guarantee the recipient will feel totally different when they receive this gift. Likewise, how many of the things you have bought for your home are worth handing down to your children? Cindy Hoedel of the Kansas City Star put it this way, “It’s ironic that relatively affluent, dual-income households today possess fewer objects worth handing down than their Depression-era parents and grandparents did. Instead of a few great things, we have tons of junk.”

If you are thinking about purchasing antiques or vintage items for yourself or as a gift, but are unsure how to find the best values for your money, please contact us. We are always willing to assist you in finding just the right items that will have lasting value. If you are using the services of a professional interior decorator, ask that they incorporate antiques in their designs. Be careful using “interior designers” hired by large furniture chains, as they will often be simply another high pressure salesperson promoting “more is better.” A truly gifted interior decorator can see quality, scale and good form in antiques. They can find creative ways to use vintage and antique pieces for display, storage, accents and attention-getting decors. With antiques and vintage items you have the opportunity to own something durable and truly unique that can be a conversation piece and possibly an heirloom for another future generation.

Article By: AnnMarie Palumbo-Parks

The Antique Store In Wayne

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