Articles At A Glance
Antique Merchants Battle Gas Prices
By: Marc Washicheck
As seen in The Antique Shoppe Newspaper, April 2007
Every morning I watch the newscasts of nine TV stations. I, like many others, flip from channel to channel so I can get a wide variety of news. All I am hearing lately is how the gas prices are going to go up, maybe to record levels. This oil crisis hurts everyone especially Antique Merchants who can't order product from a catalog.
Have you ever seen an oak hutch on top of a Volkswagen Beetle? It seems as gas prices rise, cars get smaller. We hear how gas prices are rising almost daily which affects everyone. As everyone knows, these increases are hurting many businesses, but none more than the Antique stores. The TV states how high fuel prices are affecting the trucking and rail industries but those companies figure every cost into their prices. These costs include such items as vehicle maintenance, tire costs, insurance, hourly wage, employees benefits, workman's compensation, and, of course, gas. Most rail and trucking companies add on a fuel surcharge to help pay the high cost, but that is not the case with Antique Merchants.
Antique Merchants cannot buy items from a catalog and their merchandise isn't delivered by UPS or Fed Ex. Antique Merchants must drive hundreds even thousands of miles a week hunting good product to sell. They must go to estate sales, flea markets, thrift stores, auctions, house buys, garage sales and other Antiques Stores. Most Antique Merchants must go to other states to find antiques. It is not uncommon to drive to 30 places to buy $5.00 in merchandise and use $30.00 in gas. Many times merchants will drive 60 miles to a house buy; just to find out they actually want a free appraisal. They just want to know what to charge their neighbors when they buy the items. The Antique Roadshow is a wonderful, entertaining program, but unfortunately watchers assume everything they are selling is worth $250,000.00. These unrealistic prices make it difficult for merchants to buy at a fair price. In most states, Antique Merchants must drive hours to auctions, few are lucky enough to have auctions in their town, and then they are not guaranteed they will find any good treasures.
We hear many people are only grocery shopping once a week. No more running to the store for a gallon of milk or a bottle of soda. The news is also reporting many people aren't filling their gas tanks. They wait until they absolutely need gas. They figure if they go to gas station, and wait in line, it may deter them from driving needless miles. If they have a full tank, they will drive anywhere without a thought. Antique Merchants can't do that.
The government, TV, and radio keep saying everyone should buy small hybrid cars. Antique Merchants must have larger vehicles, which include vans, and 13 foot trailers. If an antique merchant has to rent a van, it will set them back about $80.00 a day, plus gas which gets very costly, insurance and who knows what other costs. All the costs involved in buying Antiques for retail are not being added onto the cost of Antiques and Collectibles to the customer.
Gas prices may be taking a toll in another way too. If customers won't drive to the grocery store, they won't drive to antique stores either. Many are buying on eBay, but remember the cost of shipping and handling must be added into the cost of items. When you add all the costs together, it is usually less expensive to shop the Antique Stores, and you get to see and touch your items in person.
If gas prices keep rising (which is predicted) there will be a need for changes. Antique Merchants may need to; 1) increase prices for all the driving costs like all other companies already do, 2) They may be forced to add a fuel surcharge like other transportation companies are already doing, 3) start a no discount policy which most businesses already have.
There is good news. Remember, even with the rising gas prices, antique stores, whether big or small, are the most fun shopping you will have. Antique shopping is a very social event. Customers are always reminiscing to their friends about the good times in their lives. They see the candy dish grandma had, the mugs they drank their hot chocolate from, or even the fishing lure grandpa used. Whatever you're searching for, furniture, fishing lures, glassware, sporting goods, pottery, etc., it's always fun to hunt for them. Most of the items you see are one of a kind or very limited quantities, well built and have great histories behind them. Shop Antique stores where you can touch, reminisce and enjoy, and go back in time to your childhood.
Marc Washicheck is owner of Cherry Hill Antiques, 120 W. Oak Street, Arcadia, Fl 34266. Visit the website CherryHillAntiques.com. For questions or comments call 863-993-2344 or email
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