Antiques business is buzzing at semi-annual Spectacular

You couldn’t tell by the Saturday crowds at the QCCA Expo Center that the antiques business is down, as some say.

In fact, that was a subject of debate at the Rock Island venue, where the aisles were close to full late in the morning for the annual spring version of the Antique Spectacular.

Stan Shydlowski of Loretta, Wis., who traveled 370 miles to be in the Quad-Cities this weekend, calls the business challenging.

“The one thing you hear from mostly older people is that their homes are already full of stuff,” he said.

“They say, ‘Well, I love it, but I don’t have any room for it.’ ”

The Expo Center certainly is full, full of tables, racks, and cases showing off such antique items as books, dolls and jewelry. There also are photos, glassware and dishware, games, comic books, Chinese porcelain, and art glass. Clothes also can be purchased along with a fair share of furniture, plus posters, porcelain signs, folk art, sheet music and postcards.

One vendor’s sign encouraged people to “Go Green! Recycle, buy vintage.”

Keith and Debbie Stocker of Naperville, Ill., travel the country with their collections and note that business is not down in wealthy areas.

They say the upscale suburbs, especially in the East and South are buying, particularly the 19th-century period pieces the couple sells.

“They like ‘early,’ items that represent cities when they had their greatest period of growth,” Keith Stocker said.

He agrees that the business is challenging because those who collect antiques tend to be the older population that is shrinking while those in their 30s and 40s are not very interested.

“If it doesn’t click and have a battery, they don’t want it,” he added.

But Whitney Bloom of LeClaire respectfully disagrees. The 27-year old was bent over, intensely looking at a case of one-of-kind diamond rings. Bloom admitted that she is an “old soul” and prefers jewelry when she and her boyfriend “go antiquing.”

Stocker does believe that antiquing goes in cycles, adding that he sees teenagers showing interest in the “history” of items.

“They like the romance of them, how they were made, what it personifies.”

Jewelry dealer Michelle Chez of Minnetonka, Minnn., said that Bloom represents her target customer because, “despite the economy, wedding jewelry never goes out of style.”

Also, TV shows such as the History channel series starring the Quad-City area’s own “American Pickers,” along with the Public Broadcasting Service’s “Antique Roadshow,” have increased interest in antiques.

Sisters Lynn Brown from Detroit and Julie Bentley from St. Paul met in the Quad-Cities to personally exchange their mother’s china rather than ship it. They were oohing and aahing over some Heisey glassware.

“We like ‘American Pickers’ because we’re doing our basement in big metal signs, and that’s the kind of stuff they dig up,” Brown said.

” ‘Antiques Roadshow’ makes me wonder what the value is of things in my home, and I’ve looked up what they might be worth in other parts of the country,” Bentley admitted.

Stocker rolls his eyes at the mention of that show, however, saying, “The ‘Roadshow’ makes everyone think that everything they have is worth $6 million!”

Browsing customer Ted Blaser of Moline, who collects Corgi and Dinky toys, agreed, saying, “Yeah, they say, ‘This may be worth $10,000,’ but try and get it.”

Vendor Terry Scanlan of LeClaire said that when it comes to toy items, the fact that most people threw out the box when they received the original toy means “the box can be worth as much or more than the toy.”

The show continues from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $7, and parking is free.

Steve Trainor