Years ago, as I was setting up the antiques show at the Grove Park Inn Arts & Crafts Conference, David Rago and I were having a conversation during which looked about the ballroom and observed, “You know, if you put twelve antiques dealers on a desert island, they all would make a living.”
After a quick trip through Albuquerque two weeks ago, I’ve come to the conclusion that if you put those same twelve dealers in a deserted antiques mall, they’ll also all make a living.
As I mentioned last week, I had all but stopped going to antiques malls, as I had tired of looking at all the junk and reproductions littering most of the booths. What I failed to remember, however, was that antiques malls vary in quality as much as restaurants. Lumping any of my Asheville favorites, such as The Corner Kitchen or The Stoney Knob Cafe, alongside Hardees or Arby’s, would be no more as fair as what I had been doing to antiques shops.
And so, with a couple of hours to spare late on a Thursday afternoon, I followed the directions on the I-40 billboard east of Albuquerque and made my way to the Antique Connection Mall. Much to my surprise, I discovered one of the cleanest, most organized, and certainly the friendliest antiques mall I have been inside in years.
Now, I wish I could say it was brimming with customers, but it was nearly five o’clock on a Thursday afternoon. What it was brimming with, however, were dealers. At first I thought I had stumbled into their monthly meeting, but as I picked my way through the aisles I eavesdropped on their conversations and quickly came to the conclusion they were all there because they enjoyed it.
And had he ever stopped by, Donald Trump could have added another chapter to his book The Art of the Deal.
These dealers truly loved to deal. They haggled, they cajoled, they kidded, they berated, they pestered, they laughed, they moaned — all the while buying and selling with each other. And they were the happiest, friendliest lot of antiques dealers I have encountered in years. They left me alone, but they were never far away. Coffee was offered, specials were pointed out, and when I asked to have a locked display case opened, no one groaned.
And when I carried my small pile of purchases to the counter, three of them were ready to ring up, wrap and carry them out to my car.
Well, with the holidays and a January birthday fast approaching, I best not go into detail. I was reminded, though, of that old familiar piece of advice: the only person who’s not finding anything is the one who quit looking.
And the only thing more enjoyable than buying Arts & Crafts for yourself is buying it for someone else.
(And who wouldn’t rather be in any antiques mall than even the best shopping mall…..)
Until next Monday,
Have a great week!
Next week: An Arts & Crafts Surprise in Salt Lake City