Antique shop woes

COLLECTION: Barry Holliday and his son Jason, who run Holliday & Sons, with a rare 19th century Japanese imari vase worth $6500.

Antique stores around New Zealand are on the decline. Lee Umbers finds out why.

Internet trading, rising rents and a lack of new-generation dealers have all contributed to a “dramatic crunch” in the number of stores, says New Zealand Antique Dealers’ Association president Barry Holliday.

After having 50-60 members about 15-20 years ago and “people clambering” to join, the association is down to about 10 – and “a few of them are due to hand in their retirement notices in the next few months I imagine”.

“The association now is slowing grinding to a halt,” Mr Holliday said.

“It’s a terrible thing, really.”

Mr Holliday, 73, took over his family business Holliday & Sons at 21. Established in 1848 in England, it was set up in Christchurch in 1949.

He is the fifth generation in the profession and his son Jason is the sixth.

But he said a number of other antique dealers had started out later in life as a career change.

With family already having left home, if they ran the store by themselves “they didn’t have succession plans in place”.

Many leased their premises, so there was no property to sell either.

Rising shop rents had also bitten, Mr Holliday said.

He estimates there were about 70 shops in Christchurch selling second-hand goods a decade ago.

“But they were probably only paying $25-$35 a square metre. Now they won’t get a shop under probably $250-$300 a square metre in the central city.”

Internet trading had taken a toll on the collectables side of the market, he said.

But the antique business in more specialist or expensive pieces “is still quite strong”.

People want peace of mind buying from an established dealer when making such purchases, he said.

“If you’re going to spend, say, $5000 – and that isn’t an expensive piece of antique furniture – you don’t want to find when it arrives by the carrier that one of the legs has been replaced, and the drawers don’t run properly ‘cause the runners have had it, and you’ve got no comeback.”

Antique dealers were selling over the internet as well as out of their stores.

“Some of them are very successful,” Mr Holliday said.

“My business has never done that, but we are working on a site at the moment.”

 -NZ Herald