FREDERICK, Md. (AP) — Downtown Frederick has evolved into a destination for antiques shoppers, but some dealers are worried that the market may be changing as times and tastes evolve.
In the back of Emporium Antiques on East Patrick Street, Mary Anne Shaw looked over some dishes that someone had just brought in.
Shaw works in consignment, getting together with the person bringing items in and pricing them.
Its downtown location gives the shop a great advantage, but the antiques market isn’t nearly as strong as it used to be, she said.
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“Younger people are not as interested as we were,” Shaw said.
Judy Russell, owner of Fabulous Finds on East Patrick Street, agreed.
Millennials and other younger people don’t want the knickknacks that older generations did, Russell said.
Homes today aren’t as formal, and brides don’t really register for china when they get married as much as they used to.
The market started to change about 10 years ago, as the people who appreciate antiques have gotten older.
“Now, if I have an antique, it has to be priced very reasonably to sell it,” Russell said.
At Emporium Antiques, Kathy Maxwell walked among the rows of booths displaying everything from old furniture and crystal cocktail sets to old magazines and military memorabilia.
Maxwell is the owner of Larkspur Lane Antiques and handles the renting of spaces at Emporium to dealers.
She would like to find someone who sells railroad memorabilia, both because of Frederick County’s history with trains and because she said there seems to be a general interest in the topic.
But Maxwell isn’t interested in hobbyists or people who are looking to dabble in antiques because it seems like fun. She wants genuine dealers.
“We’re picky about who we take in,” she said.
Being a dealer is serious business, Maxwell said.
They go to estate sales and auctions, and anywhere they can pick up items for their inventory.
“There’s no central warehouse that anybody can go to for antiques,” Maxwell said.
In downtown Frederick, it’s not just antiques shops selling used and older items. The city also has its fair share of consignment stores and boutiques selling vintage clothes.
The mix fits well with the historic downtown, Maxwell said.
“It’s sophisticated, but it’s quaint at the same time,” she said.
She said Frederick has developed a reputation as a draw for antiques buffs, drawing shoppers from areas such as Potomac, Bethesda, Baltimore and northern Virginia, as well as travelers passing through on the highways that run through the city.
And unlike smaller towns that may focus their economy on antiques, Frederick can offer great restaurants, shops and parking.
“We not only have the antique shops, we have all the other wonderful things that people can take advantage of,” Maxwell said.
“I think a lot of it took off when they fixed (Carroll Creek),” said Joan Berkowitz.
Berkowitz and her husband, Paul, own Great Stuff by Paul, with stores on North Carroll and East Sixth streets.
Berkowitz said she’s been in antiques since the 1970s. She started in Bethesda, but liked the feel of downtown Frederick, with its old architecture and history.
It just seemed like an appropriate place for an antiques business, she said.
Frederick’s antique scene is respected, and having antiques and consignment shops downtown adds an eclectic feel to the area, said Leeann Dickerson, marketing and promotion manager for the Downtown Frederick Partnership.
Debby Spry, of Cannon Hill Place, on South Carroll Street, said the industry has evolved from when she started about 25 years ago.
Then, it was more about things like Victorian furniture, whereas now customers are looking for cultural items or items that can be repurposed for other uses.
“Anything that’s cool is what people like now. It doesn’t have to be old,” she said.
Russell agreed with Maxwell about the benefits of being downtown, where the restaurants and shops can help bring in foot traffic.
“There’s still a market,” she said. “It’s just not what it used to be.”
Information from: The Frederick (Md.) News-Post, http://www.fredericknewspost.com