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 on 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.
Where else but an antique store can you see, touch, hold, and even buy such pieces of history?
One of the comments we here about half as frequently 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.
When do you suppose the owner of your favorite Ebay “shop” rose at 6 a.m. on a Saturday to vacuum the rug you will later tread so you can have a pleasant, clean, shopping experience – just poking around? Do they buy and renovate buildings, purchase business licenses, pay taxes to your state, and hire local labor, adding to the 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 have someone on staff to show you how an unusual item works – let you touch it – let you operate it? More importantly, does Ebay let you take a treasure with you right then – enjoy it – admire it over pizza in the hotel room – and talk about what it means to you, while reviewing your day? You can’t get that experience on Ebay, where that item that is $4 cheaper will cost $19 and 4 days shipping time. 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, should the thought “I could get it cheaper on Ebay” cross your mind consider what your leisure time would be like if all antiques were traded online, antique shops could no longer survive, and you had one less place to “poke around” in on vacation.