Love Browsing?

One of the comments I hear most often in Wonderland is in the vein of “I just love poking around in shops like this.” We love to hear that. Whether you purchase a treasure today, or remember us and come back another day, we know that we are fulfilling our mission. We are bringing the joy of history to people who appreciate it.

We hope we are also educating visitors about the way people used to live. A butter churn is the story of the work it required to enjoy a little extra flavor at the dinner table. A hand-cranked wringer washing machine is the story of how hard great-grandma worked to keep her family neat and clean without the benefit in indoor plumbing or electricity. Jim Crow era memorabilia shocks us, now, but also reminds us of how hearts and minds can be changed with time, care, and courage. Even a lava lamp is a story of the psychedelia that reigned in 1960s and 1970s America, and the counter culture which began to shift ways of thinking.  

Where else but an antique store can you see, touch, hold, and even buy such pieces of history?

Another comment we hear less often is “I could get that cheaper on Ebay.” We are less excited about hearing this. Your local antique shops are not trying to compete with Ebay on price. Your local antique shops provide a service, an environment, an experience that far outstrip that $4 savings on an ashtray.

Does Ebay provide a pleasant, clean, shopping experience? One in which you can spend leisure time – just poking around? Do they buy and renovate buildings, purchase business licenses, pay taxes to your state, hire local labor, and add value to your local economy?

Does Ebay give you somewhere to go on a rainy day on vacation? When you are stir-crazy and just want to get out of your hotel room and relax, does Ebay give you that? Does Ebay have someone on staff to show you how an unusual item works? Does Ebay let you touch it? Let you operate it? More importantly, does Ebay let you take your treasure with you right away so you can enjoy it – admire it over pizza in the hotel room – talk about what it means to you, while reviewing your day? No, it doesn’t. You can’t get that experience on Ebay, where that item that is $4 cheaper will cost you $19 and 4 days in shipping. It may be convenient, but it doesn’t add to the enjoyment of seeking, finding, and buying an item.

So, the next time you are enjoying your time perusing an antique store or any other brick-and-mortar business, if the thought “I could get it cheaper on Ebay” crosses your mind, consider what your leisure time would be like if all antique antique shops could no longer survive, and you had one less place to “poke around” in on vacation.