Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas closing in

Happy Holidays to all our Discover Mid-America advertisers, readers and vendors. Only four more days left to shop!

So far the holiday shopping has been pretty much what was predicted — conservative to moderate, depending upon what part of the country you're in. Within our network, we've heard the usual "it's slow" comments, but I have to admit not as numerous as in years past.

The National Retail Federation made some predictions before Thanksgiving and it will be interesting to see if they hold true. Here are a few as they relate to our shopping network of antiques, collectibles and home decor shops. 68.4% of the shoppers were predicted to do most of their shopping at discounters, down from 70.3% in 2006; online shopping was expected to be 44.3% of shoppers, down from 47.1% in 2006.

I question this prediction/statistic and think it will be higher than last year. Watch for the figures in early January 2008.

Home decor items were 22% of the "most sought after" gifts according to the survey. Spending on flowers and decorations was to rise. And for our advertisers, here are the "Major Factors" driving consumer traffic this holiday season:

Everyday low prices (12.8%)
Sales or price discounts (38.2%)
Customer service (4.9%)
Product quality (12.8%)
Merchandise selection (22.6%)
Convenient location (6.3%)

Every one of those categories are relevant to antique shops and malls, and home decor advertisers, especially relating to sales or price discounts and merchandise selection. It's time to stop relegating the holiday season to other types of retail outlets.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

more of Whiteneck on Rinker

In the previous post, we began to relate Peggy Whiteneck's thoughts on the Nov. '07 interview with Harry Rinker. Whiteneck is "Discover Mid-America"'s Good Eye columnist. Peggy continues...

Having said that, I always find his writings (Rinker's) provocative food for thought...I'm paying particular attention to your interview to his comments on collector books and price guides. As an author of one of those myself ("Collecting Lladro," 2nd ed., Krause 2003), the issue of value assignment is always an area of great struggle for me. I find that I viscerally disagree with Rinker's tendency to maek eBay the price arbiter in the market. Although I recognize the self-interest in that (as a collector myself who doesn't want to see the value of her collection undercut by the bargain basement mentality of eBay,) I also think it makes little sense for the rest of the trade to look to eBay for its value structure. Otherwise, on-the-ground businesses might just as well shutter up and deal online. I do think there's room in the market to price above eBay – if only because some of the better-heeled customers are not trawling eBay looking for their collectibles. But I don take his basic point, which is that the "high end" prices in the guides are misleading in their own way and have to "get real," whatever yardstick they may use for doing so. And I do think that dealers in the trade are mistaken when they price to the guides, as it is also quite true that most collectors will not purchase at guide prices as long as they can find the same items in mint condition elsewhere for a lot less. Availability (Rinker's 'scarcity' factor) is, therefore, one of the most significant factors in defining value, and I'm not sure this isn't somewhat different from scarcity per se: an item may be relatively common in one area of the country but relatively scarce in another. And the less available an item is in the area where a collector lives, the more likely a collector is to pay a premium to get it.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

On Rinker

Harry Rinker and his thoughts on the antique and collectibles trade was the cover for our Nov. issue. Good Eye columnists Peggy Whiteneck emailed us a few thoughts on what Rinker had to say.

"I often find Rinker opinionated and infuriating, but never boring. I also find that he has his own biases; despite his acerbic comments about pricing in other categories of collectibles, it seems to me he's not shy about asserting puffy values for areas of his own collecting interest, notably toys. It's a lot easier to assign values to items one actually cares about!"

More on what Peggy has to say about Rinker in our November issue in the next post...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Web site problems

If you have tried to access our website in the last day or two you have noticed that things are not working the way they normally do and there is a slightly different look. We have recently had some work done on our server and are having some technical problems that we are currently taking care of. We should have it fixed very soon. Please check in with us later this week and also look for the December issue of Discover Mid-America to be posted next week. Thank you for your patience.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

TOAF show, lessons learned

Emily White-Gartrell sent an email about the success of her October show in Crocker, MO saying, "for a first-time show – I think I did darn good!" She added that she learned the following: use free advertisement when available, see who has the largest circulation for advertisement purposes, have someone "do the tents," and have a good time.

As a publisher, here are my comments on advertising: Using free advertising usually means getting a story in somewhere about your show, that means have a good, complete press release about the show — something a lot of show promoters don't put a lot of time in. A basic press release should have the WHO is doing the show, WHAT is the show about (i.e. number of dealers, focus, etc.), WHY have the show, WHERE it's being held (including admission cost, days/hours, parking, etc.) and some good quotes from the organizer(s) about why people should come. Do that, and a good journalist has it easy to fill in some added info.

Circulation is a double-edge sword, depending upon the advertising budget. Large circulation newspapers charge for ads based on their circulation, and newspaper are "general interest," meaning MOST readers will not be interested in your antique show. Trade or specialty publications like DMA have smaller circulations than daily or weekly newspapers but their readership is interested in what is advertised...the ad dollars are more apt to hit their target, so to speak. The same argument can be made about TV and radio advertising, unless you advertise on programs with an audience with the same interest as what you are promoting. Perhaps the best targetted advertising next to specialty/trade publications is online at web sites with information that mirror the reasons you're holding your event.

If you advertise by numbers alone, you may be wasting money.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Nov issue - Rinker right on

If you haven't picked up the Nov. '07 issue of DMA yet you're missing some good info from Harry Rinker. The antiques "guru" has some helpful and interesting things to say about the antiques and collectibles business. Dealers and mall and shop owners struggling in this economy should read and re-read what he has to say...

Our first-ever Gift Guide is also in November's issue and it looks good. Thanks to all who participated. We've gotten some very good feedback and look to have a better and bigger Gift Guide next year. Suggestions, of course, are welcome. Already one advertiser said they've gotten some calls from their ad in the Gift Guide.

If you can't find a copy, go to The Gift Guide is also there, posted as a pdf file.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

upcoming Nov issue

A couple of things happenin' around here for the November issue. First, when you pick up a copy look for our first-ever Gift Guide brochure. We're giving this a try, and as far as we know, we're the first antiques/collectibles publication to give such a "standard" marketing/advertising vehicle a try. After all, TARGET consumers, not just dealers and collectors.

Second, read what Harry Rinker has to say about the antiques and collecibles market. If you're still thinking 20th century, you won't like what he has to say. Things — as Dylan sang — are a changin'.

Monday, October 1, 2007

more on Fenton

Fenton dealer Jim Smith, interviewed for the feature "Fenton's end brings more sadness than surprise" ( in the October issue, called me today to say he's talked with more folks close to the Fenton situation. According to Smith, the company plans on "turning off the furnaces" at the end of October with the finishers to be gone by November. Some Christmas gift, uh.

Meanwhile, Smith says, Fenton will help people identify "what they have in their cabinets" as to whether it's a Fenton. Go to for more information.

One has to wonder why the company couldn't have at least waited until after the holidays to shut down.

Bruce R.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Working hard for her show

Emily White-Gartell is working hard to make the "Top of the Ozarks Antique Fair" in Crocker, MO the premier show she's been telling everyone that it is. Today she announced that The Old World Trader from Rolla will join the list of quality dealers at TOAF, as she calls it. Old World Trader deals in "ethnographic basketry, tribal artifacts, anicent coinage, Eastern rugs and bags and rare maps and manuscripts. The show is Oct. 13-14, $5 for the early bird, otherwise it's free. Go to
DMA staff have been invited down to the show. Emily is making it more tempting with every news release.

Monday, September 24, 2007

apology from antique news

Antique News, with links on our web site, sent out an "apology" yesterday because apparently their server overloaded making it tough to access their web site. They have since moved to a larger server.
Just goes to show you how the antique business is moving more online to get it's information. We remain a "people" business but success in the antique business, i.e. getting more customers, means using the web to get the message out along with other advertising venues.

Bruce R.

Saturday, September 22, 2007


This is the first post in "Discover Mid-America"'s new (and only) blog. We welcome our readers, advertisers and random Internet surfers who stumble upon us — kinda like finding some valuable and scarce antique at a flea market. Okay, enough of the lousy analogies.

Our October 2007 is back from the printer today. We will start distribution this coming week. It's a good issue, on fiddles! Fiddle players love old fiddles, not necessarily because they're old but because they sound good.

The new edition should be up on the Web by mid-week. Let us know what you think. And look for posts from other DMA staff members.

Bruce R.