New Stock Arrives Daily
Since there is a lot of confusion about the new stay at home order, and we are getting a lot of the same questions, I will attempt to answer common covid questions in this week’s post. I have read the 32 page document the Ontario government released on January 12th, as well as the four page list of exemptions to the stay at home order. And the new restrictions don’t change anything in regards to how The Barn is currently conducting business.
We are being extremely cautious and that will not change. We work from home as much as possible. We work in the store on alternate days, so that there is only one person in the store the vast majority of the time. We are taking precautions that are stricter than the government regulations require.
We are open for curbside pickup and delivery only, instore shopping is not allowed. I’m sure many readers will find this hard to believe, but we are still getting requests from customers who want to come into the store to shop. In store shopping will not be allowed until the lockdown has ended.
We are also getting many requests to bring items outside so that customers can have a look at them. This is not allowed. If you cannot purchase an item from a photo, that is understandable. But, to see items in person before purchasing them you will have to wait until we reopen for instore shopping.
There are many photos on our website, if you see something you are interested in and would like further information, please just send us an email. We are working from home as much as possible and are not keeping regular store hours. So we won’t always be available to answer the phone during lockdown. But we do respond to all email inquiries.
We are getting a lot of requests similar to this: “I’m looking for a desk, can you send me photos of what you have?” We do not take photos of most of our inventory, it is too large and changes too rapidly. When requesting photos please be specific. Tell us what you are looking for, as well as the style you want, and the approximate dimensions you would like. We will then send you photos of the best available option[s] we have in stock that fits your requirements.
If you would like to purchase an item, just send us your phone number and we will call you back to arrange a pickup or delivery time, and payment by credit card. While in lockdown we cannot except cash or debit. We also cannot except returns on purchases made during lockdown.
CURBSIDE PICKUP & DELIVERY
For safety reason, here is how we are doing curbside pickup and delivery. We will not take your item[s] into your home upon delivery. We send just one person who will leave your delivery outside or in an open garage. We will arrange a short delivery window in advance. Then we will call you upon arrival so that you know exactly when your item[s] arrive.
For curbside pickup we also make sure that there is no contact. An appointment time must be made in advance. When you arrive we ask that you call us and remain in your vehicle. Someone will bring your purchase outside and leave it for you to pickup. That way there is no contact.
FYI- Number 8 in the list of exceptions to the stay at home order published by the Ontario government states: “Purchasing or picking up goods through an alternative method of sale, such as curbside pickup, from a business or place that is permitted to provide curbside pickup under Stage 1 Order.”
We have stopped buying antiques from the public since the lockdown started for safety reasons. We are still getting contacted nearly everyday from people wanting to sell antique items. We will resume buying after the lockdown has ended. If you have items you want to sell we ask that you please hold off on your inquiries until the lockdown has ended.
Many people have asked the question. “Can I send you photos to see if you are interested in my items for after you resume buying?” The answer is yes, you can send photos and we will let you know if they are the type of items we purchase.
Even after the lockdown has ended, we will not go into your home to look at items, for safety reason. You will have to bring items to us, where we will look at them outside. Or if you have a large number of larger items and you can put them in an open garage we may be willing to come and have a look, depending on the items of course.
Normally anyone can just bring items for us to have a look at without an appointment. After the lockdown has ended we don’t want everyone showing up with their items at once. An appointment will be required to sell your items after the lockdown.
FILM & TELEVISON
The film & television industry shut down completely in March during the first lockdown. They did not get up and running again until months after the first lockdown was lifted. First they had to figure out strict safety protocols that would keep everyone safe. And there are a lot of moving parts with getting a production up and running again, so it took a long time.
Productions have not shutdown during this lockdown, the government of Ontario is allowing them to continue operating with very strict safety protocols. Any company that supplies the film industry is being allowed to operated to continue supplying them with the things they need to operate. And they need furniture and props to operate. So we have been allowed to continue supplying productions. Set decoration buyers make an appointment in advance and one person comes at a time to take photos and pick out items. Set decoration buyers like everyone who works on film sets in Ontario, are tested for covid every two days.
We have been very surprised by the amount business we have had from loyal customers purchasing items from photos during the lockdown. We would like to thank everyone for their support. We are all doing the best we can in this situation. We understand your frustration and we thank you for your patience.
Quarantine Series: Reclaimed Wood
If you are a regular reader of this page you’ve seen “reclaimed wood furniture” often. But what exactly is reclaimed wood furniture? Well quite simply it is furniture made of recycle wood and often metal. The wood comes from old houses, buildings, bridge beams, cable reels, pallets, etc.. Pretty much any old wood that can be reused to make furniture these days is recycled.
Anything that has a tag on it saying FSC certified reclaimed means that all the wood used in the construction of the piece is fully recycled. No trees are cut down. FSC stands for the Forestry Stewardship Council. It is an international non-profit. FSC was created in 1993 in response to concerns over deforestation. You can go to ca.fsc.org if you want to learn more about the certification process. FSC helps to protect forests, animal habitat, worker’s rights, indigenous people’s rights, and areas of significant environmental importance.
If you walk through The Barn you will see lots of FSC reclaimed tags. However, we were making and selling reclaimed wood furniture long before it was certified, or called reclaimed, and long before 1993. Like a lot of things at The Barn, we’ve been doing it for so long we don’t know when it started.
Back in the good old days of Canadian manufacturing [pre NAFTA-1994], most of the new furniture we sold was made in Canada. Back then we sold furniture made by half a dozen different local shops. A couple of them specialized in reclaimed wood furniture. Except the term “reclaimed wood” had not yet been coined. We just called it barn board, or said it was made from old wood. We even made some pieces ourselves when we could acquire old boards.
Over the years the look of furniture made with old boards became more and more popular. Eventually the wood was in such high demand that manufacturers would drive around the countryside looking for dilapidated old barns and buildings they could purchase from farmers. We new a bunch of people that would spend their summers tearing down old barns, and spend their winters making furniture out of the wood they had recycled. It was a terrific system that was even more environmentally friendly than what is happening today.
These days a lot of small businesses are talking about covid as being the biggest challenge their business has ever faced. While being in lockdown is challenging for us, covid doesn’t rank as the biggest challenge to our business over the years. NAFTA and subsequent trade deals were definitely more challenging. While there have certainly been positives from the many “free trade” deals the Canadian government has signed. Damage to Canadian manufacturing is certainly one of the negatives. All but one of the local shops that used to make furniture for us have gone out of business because they couldn’t compete with the prices of furniture made with cheaper labour in Asia. The last shop standing has survived because they now do exclusively high end custom work for customers willing to pay a premium. They no longer produce furniture for the general market.
That is not to say that there still isn’t great furniture made in Canada. We proudly carry the Springwater Woodcraft line made in Springwater Ontario. We previously posted an article about Springwater Woodcraft on this page on May 25th of last year. If you scroll down on this page you can read the article, if interested.
But these days only certain types of furniture can be made in Canada at competitive prices. If you want high end quality reclaimed wood furniture, you can either buy imported. Or buy Canadian made and pay double the price or more, for comparable products. That is the effect that all the “free trade” deals have had. Only simpler, none labour intensive pieces can be made here at competitive prices for comparable products.
In 2007 we started carrying PGT made reclaimed wood furniture. It has been our best selling reclaimed wood furniture ever since. PGT is still the gold standard in the industry. You can see some photos on our Reproductions page. The Irish Coast and Lifestyle lines are made by PGT. Only certain PGT pieces are available in Canada. Anything that is available that we don’t stock can be ordered in upon request. There are also pieces that we special order from PGT that are not available anywhere else in Canada. For example, we have the full line of PGT Settler bedroom furniture in the African dusk colour, arriving at The Barn in March.
The lines and colours we carry have changed over the years, as styles have changed. Provence is our newest and fastest growing line of reclaimed wood furniture. The line started out in 2019 with only a dozen different pieces to chose from, and only one colour. But we’ve been working on expanding the line and the colour selection. We already have the Provence bookcases in two colours that are exclusive to The Barn in stock. We’ve been working with the factory on new colours and pieces, and some are already on the way. Scheduled to arrive in March will be the new Provence hall tables that are exclusive to The Barn. They are coming in three new colours. We also have a batch of Provence night stands coming in a bunch of additional colours, so that we can gage interest in what colours will be the most popular before we expand the line further. So if you stop in once the lockdown ends, please give us your opinion on what colours you like best.
We even sell old boards and have done so for many years. We only leave a few sample boards in the building. Often customers just tell us how many feet and what size boards they require and we get them ready for pickup.
There are also lots of reclaimed wood pieces from many different manufacturers that we don’t stock that can be ordered upon request. Just ask to see a catalogue the next time you are in the shop. If you wish to shop online during lockdown you can check out our Reproductions page. Or cheque out www.pgt-reclaimed.com . Please keep in mind that only certain pieces from PGT in the Irish Coast, Lifestyle, Settler, Post & Rail, Cintra, Wooden Forge, and Bohemia lines are available in Canada. And only in certain colours. You can also check out www.lhimports.com. Our prices beat any competitors regular pricing on LH products. If you have any questions about pricing, dimensions, availability, or anything else, just send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org . We will get back to you promptly.
Quarantine Series: The Atlanta Mansion
Sometimes a customer will come into The Barn and say something like: “Do you remember the mahogany sideboard I bought from you, 30 years ago?”. The truth is that unless you bought something very recently or your piece[s] was unusual in some memorable way, we probably won’t remember. We have sold too many pieces over the years. We have bought so many estates and made so many deals over the decades that only certain memorable deals stand out.
Since we just finished with the holidays, maybe I’m felling nostalgic. But writing last week’s “Big Projects” post made me think of what is perhaps the most talked about deal in the history of The Barn. Talked about among people who were involved in the project that is. So since we have some time for nostalgia during the lockdown, here is the story of the Atlanta mansion.
In 1978 The Barn was open three days a week. Back then the vast majority of our business consisted of importing antiques from the United States and selling them wholesale to auctioneers and antique dealers. Please keep in mind that prices of items were very different back then. It cost far more to furnish a home in those days than it did to buy a house. A bedroom set cost more than a car. This was long before free trade or the collapse of the antique market. The prices and market for consumer goods were very different than today. And nearly everything we bought was done in cash and in U.S. dollars.
Back then, Freddy Rotundo of York Antiques in New York was one of our best suppliers. In the summer of 1978 he bought an estate in Atlanta, Georgia for $85 000. It was the estate of a man who back then was referred to as an “auction nut”. No one remembers the name of the man, but before passing he used to attend auctions regularly, and he bought and bought. These day’s we would call him a hoarder.
Freddy was only interested in the best pieces from the estate: high end paintings, a collection of bronzes, and a few high end pieces of museum quality furniture. He had buyers for those type of pieces.
What was left over was a mansion full of antiques and seemingly random items. The attic was full of 45 gallon oil drums, each one containing a different item. One was filled with Baccarat crystal decanters, the drum sitting next to it was filled with screwdrivers. No one knew exactly what there was until it was all sorted. But there was just about everything you could think of.
Frank [the owner of The Barn] made a deal with Freddy to buy the remainder of the estate for $35 000. He sent a team down to Atlanta to pack everything up. There were three main challenges in getting everything ready for transport. First, Atlanta in the summer, the heat was extreme.
Second, nearly everyday someone new would show up claiming to be a long lost relative and saying that certain items were promised to them. It was well known that there was quite a collection stored in the mansion. There was a valuable coin collection somewhere, that was purchased at auction many years prior. Many people knew about the coin collection, as well as the other valuable items that were purchased at public auctions over the years. The vultures were circling.
And third was the lions. Some things are just to strange to make up. This was a mansion in a neighbourhood of mansions. At the time one of the neighbours had two lions that were used as guard dogs. There was a schedule, and at certain times at night the lions were let out for exercise. Everyone in the neighbourhood new to stay inside during those hours. As I said, it was a different time.
It took weeks, but in the end everything fit in two well packed 45 foot trailers that made their way back to The Barn. Frank spent evenings for three months sorting through everything. The valuable coin collection was never found. The main problem was that most things weren’t looked after. Nearly every piece of fancy china or crystal had a chip or a crack, which destroyed the value.
There was lots of great antique furniture, lighting, artwork, and just about anything else you can imagine. Items sold, but the expenses and time invested were considerable. Not to mention the $35 000 U.S. that needed to be recouped.
Frank remembers that a year later he sold a glass vase that was left over from the estate, which after factoring in expenses and time was the sale that finally turned the deal profitable. It wasn’t a great deal in the end, but certainly a memorable one. It was such a memorable experience that Frank kept a piece from the estate. A hideous capodimonte center piece that he still has at his home. I’ve attached a photo.
It seems like I’ve written about several of the deals that haven’t worked out so well lately. There have been a lot more good deals than bad ones over the years. But every poker player will tell you that they remember the big pots they lost more vividly, than the big pots they won.
Quarantine Series: Big Projects
At The Barn we’ve always liked a challenge. Every year we seem to take on a couple of what we call “Big Projects”. We don’t go looking for these big projects, they always seem to find us. They are often how we acquire some of our best merchandise.
A little over a year ago, a furniture refinisher who had decided to retire after about 30 years in business came into The Barn, and offered us all the leftover stock he had accumulated over the years for free. There was a couple of catches. First we had to pick it all up, and it was scattered among a bunch of storage units in Scarborough. Second, he didn’t know exactly what there was. Whether or not there was enough good pieces among all the pieces that were missing parts, broken items, and junk, to make it worth our time and effort.
We decided to take a chance, and seven truck loads later, everything had arrived at The Barn. It turned out to be mostly sets of chairs. Lots and lots of sets of dinning room chairs. Everything required a thorough cleaning, some items had been collecting dust for a couple of decades. Also, lots of chairs were beyond repair. The worst part was that dozens of chairs were missing seats. Before the collapse of the antique market that would not have been a problem. But these days with the prices of dinning room chairs being so low it is a problem. It doesn’t make good business sense to spend $50 or more to make a seat for a chair that you are going to sell for $65 dollars. So we gave away at least a couple of dozen sets of chairs that were missing seats. We did manage to salvage dozens of good sets of chairs and some other good items. However when you factor in all the time we spent on the project it wasn’t a great deal for us. If we had known in advance we would have passed on the project.
These types of project often take months or even years to complete. We were cleaning the last few sets of chairs from this project in March, the day before we shutdown for covid lockdown number one. Sometimes it can take years for us to turn a profit on one of these projects, but they usually work out in the end.
Eight years was the longest one of these projects ever took. In the 1980’s we bought out the last remaining manual cash register repair shop in Toronto. There was every type of cash register imaginable: brass, nickel plated, wood, metal, faux wood on metal, giant oversized cash registers, regular sizes, miniatures, and the most popular and expensive type at the time was the small narrow ones. They were so heavy that we couldn’t even fill up a truck. We just loaded a truck until the backend was dragging on the ground. Drove to The Barn, unloaded, and went back for another batch. No one remembers exactly how many cash registers there were, but there was hundreds. There was even and entire truck load of spare parts.
We brought a dozen or more in The Barn, one or two of each type, and sold them one at a time. As they would sell we would bring in more. Some were in perfect condition, many required repairs, and some were beyond repair. They were in demand in the 80’s and sold well. But they are much more in demand these days, we get asked for them all the time.
I remember it took two years for us to break even on the deal, but in the end it turned out to be highly profitable. In case you are wondering, the brass cash register that is behind the counter at The Barn was there before this deal. Its been there for so long we don’t actually remember where it came from.
Another big project that comes to mind is we once bought out a shoe factory, that had gone out of business. This was a great deal for us. You may ask, “what great items did we get from a shoe factory?”. Well of course the answer is 800 fantastic wine racks. The shoe factory had been using terrific old wooden wine racks, they must have gotten from a vineyard, to dry their shoes. They were such a great price and sold so quickly, that nearly every week for a couple of years we would bring in a fresh pickup truck load of wine racks.
The chair that I’m currently sitting on came from the legendary Poor Alex Theatre in Toronto. They had hundreds of chairs from productions over the years sitting in their basement. One day they decided it was time for all the chairs to go and we bought them all. Chairs that get used in theatre productions take a great deal of abuse. Nearly every chair needed to be glued and cleaned. I spent an entire summer gluing and oiling chair after chair after chair until I eventually came to a quarter cut oak desk chair that was in perfect condition. I decided to keep it and more than 20 years later it still doesn’t need to be glued. Some things are just made right.
These are just a few examples of the many big projects we have undertaken over the years. I have no idea what our next big project will be. It seems like a lot of things are in a holding pattern right now because of covid19. But sooner or later someone will walk through the door and say, “I have an unusual deal you might be interested in?”
We usually start our Christmas week post by mentioning our holiday hours. But things are obviously different this year. As of the writing of this post, we are in covid lockdown, and closed to instore shopping. We don’t know when the lockdown will end, but when it does we will reopen with our regular hours.
We have a lot of customers who do their Christmas shopping at The Barn every year. That, like a lot of other things won’t be happening this year. Unless there is a surprise reopening of nonessential businesses at the last minute. The government hasn’t been giving us much warning on opening or closing dates. Given the current situation, reopening before the end of the holidays is not likely.
The uncertainty is the difficult part for us. Making plans when we don’t know when will be open is difficult. But, it is a minor concern compared to the many difficult challenges a lot of people are facing these days.
We are still open for curbside pickup and delivery, which many of our customers have been taking advantage of. Bobblehead garden gnomes have been the big seller this past week. So much so that we may just start calling “curbside pickup”, “bobblehead pickup”. One of our customers even requested a big box of assorted tin sings for pickup. If there is something you would like to pickup or have delivered, just send us an email and we will get back to you as soon as we can.
We will continue posting weekly updates with more “Quarantine Series” stories from The Barn. Complete with photos of new arrivals until we reopen to instore shopping.
I would just like to take a moment to ask everyone when possible to shop with local small businesses. The Barn will survive covid, but many of our local small business neighbours will not. Many small business owners we know are taking on tremendous debt, in order to survive covid lockdowns and restrictions. For these businesses to survive, they not only need support now, but also in the years to come. As they try to get back on their feet. And many brick and mortar businesses are just not well suited for online sales. So once the covid situation has improved, and you feel safe to shop in person, please do so safely. It will be good to get out of the house again.
A big advantage to shopping in person that I find a lot of our customers aren’t aware of is the prices. Many consumers believe that online prices are cheaper. That is true with some items, but the exact opposite with others. We don’t put prices on many items on our Reproductions page because we are contractually not allowed to advertise how low our prices are. For example the bobblehead garden gnomes that I previously mentioned can be bought online from larger online stores. But only at higher prices than the $125 each we sell them for at The Barn. Instore prices in many stores are better than what you will find online, depending on the store of course. So when you shop local, not only will you be helping to save local small businesses, but you can also save money, if you know where to shop.
Most of us won’t be having our normal holidays this year. Still, we would like to wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season. Just think of how much more we will appreciate the holiday season next year.
We are now three weeks into the lockdown and we’ve been busy bringing in lots of new items. As promised in last week’s update, here is a rundown of new antique arrivals, so far. There will be lots more before we reopen.
A terrific Victorian dinning in set came in: table, 8 chairs, and a sideboard. The set has all the bells and whistles: pull out shelves, a silver drawer, a whiskey decanter drawer, and a complete set of custom made heat pads. The crank table is 59” x 52”, with two additional 20” leaves. That makes it a 99 inch long table when fully extended. A couple of photos are attached.
We’ve also been doing yearend inventory a little early, since we have time during the lockdown. And we currently have 368 chairs in the building. So if you can’t find any chairs you like at The Barn, you may have issues. Some new chair arrivals include: a nice pair of fancy gilt cameo chairs, set of 4 press backs with arrow spindles, oak stenographer’s chair, set of 4 walnut dinning chairs, 3 hoop back kitchen chairs, bright red patio chair, pair of oak press back chairs, unusual pair of vintage living room chairs, pair of oak rush seat ladder back chairs, pair of maple rush seat ladder back chairs, swivel oak office chair, a couple of captain’s chairs, assorted accent chairs, and a set of 6 oak t-back chairs that come with a round oak table and 3 leaves.
More antique furniture arrivals included: a 5 drawer bachelor’s chest, French style tea table, unusual mahogany coffee table with pull out serving tray, dovetailed pine blanket box, rare extra wide double 4 section oak Barrister’s bookcase, unusual Asian plant stand, 1920’s thick walnut dining room table with 6 small leaves, Art Deco cedar chest, Vintage 1970’s dinning room table with 3 leaves, coat stand, round pine double pedestal table with 2 leaves, walnut magazine table, a wicker top bench shaped like a peanut[It made me laugh, so I included a photo.], musical jewelry box table, a terrific sewing table, primitive treasure box, small mahogany drop leaf coffee table, telephone table, primitive plant stand, early cherry end table, small oval walnut tilt top pedestal table, round brass and white marble pedestal lamp table, 2 different tall pine bookcases, quarter cut oak sideboard with mirrored back, and more.
Non furniture antique arrivals included: 1920’s Tiffany style table lamp, a collection of 1960’s table lamps, 2 fire screens, wooden step ladder, 3 pieces of iron garden décor, Oriental rug, ornate silver mirror, Canadian Werlich 5 seater toboggan, assorted framed prints and paintings, pair of large plaster drapery style lamps, 2 batches of cups and saucers[so far, more to come], nice 12 piece fish set in oak case, vintage 1980’s adding machine, vintage G.E. floor polisher, wicker doll buggy, vintage wagon, a bunch of wooden skies and polls, doll cradle, 2 cast iron cooking pans, large sterling silver fruit bowl 481grams, pair of weighted sterling candle holders, circa 1900 pigeon’s blood drug dispenser, assorted silver plate holloware, 2 tapestries, 2 soup tureens, assorted candle holders, 3 pine mirrors[half moon, rectangular, & window], 2 ornate gilt mirrors, 2 trunks, large cast iron planter, electric 1960’s office calculator, 2 nice salt glazed crocks, 4 Lladros, 2 typewriters[1 manual, 1 electric], 3 section sideboard mirror, Moorcroft footed bowl with lid, nice pair of 8 x 10 inch brass vases, barometer, vintage glass bottles, 2 large copper vases, and more.
That’s everything we remembered to write down from the last few days we were open and during lockdown. There is more we’ve already forgotten about.
Film & television production is still ongoing. They are exempt from the lockdown. They have been our best customers during the lockdown. As their orders get pickup, more space is created in The Barn. So we will keep bringing new items in to fill up the spaces. We also plan on unpacking lots more boxes of smalls before reopening.
There are photos of some of these items attached to the last few updates on this page. We will attach more to future updates until we reopen.
Next week we will update some of the antique items we have brought in just before and during lockdown. This week, since we are not sure when the lockdown will end and posting new arrival updates during the holidays is difficult. We thought we would post an update on all the newly made or reproduction items that have just arrived or will arrive by the end of the month.
Just before the lockdown started we got in a batch of cast iron pieces that are always popular for Christmas presents. So much for that plan! Lots of cast iron bookends and some cast iron bells.
A few days into the lockdown we got in the biggest Springwater Woodcraft shipment we have ever received. The wait times for Springwater orders just keep getting longer, plus we were sold out of 90% of the Springwater items we carry, so we really stocked up. New Springwater arrivals include: ladder shelves, 3 & 4 foot bucket benches, tall sideboards, farmhouse sideboards, 2 & 3 cube cubby benches, night stands, tall bookcases, 6 cube high cubbies, jam cupboards, plank shelves, tater bins, chalet benches, multicoloured garden slat bench, Haggerty side tables, double flip panel coffee table, chimney bookcases, and foyer tables. The best thing about Springwater products are the terrific finishes, lots of colours that pop. The Barn looks a lot more colourful since we brought everything in. We also stock black and white if colour popping is not your thing. All our most popular Springwater items are now in stock in multiple colours. Our best selling ladder shelves are in stock in eight different colours.
Some of our shipping dates for reclaimed wood furniture have been pushed back until early 2021. The demand for the product is extremely high at the moment, so things are taking a little longer. But we do have one shipment that will be arriving Christmas week. We’ve been sold out of the large Lifestyle desks for months, they will be arriving in this shipment. Also arriving from our Irish Coast African Dusk line will be: Large bookcases, media units, large end tables, and large extension dinning tables. The Provence round extension dinning table is coming as well.
If you’ve been in The Barn over the last few months you’ve probably noticed our rapidly expending supply of replica tin signs. We have another large shipment of signs arriving by the end of the month. The signs are a lot of fun, and we can all use some more fun these days, come on 2021!
Quarantine Series: Collectables
Well, we are already a week into our second lockdown and we’ve been busy fixing up The Barn, and bringing in lots of new pieces. We will start to update new arrivals soon. The three attached photos are of pieces that just arrived. But for now, back to the quarantine series as we are quarantining again.
In a previous post I wrote about the collapse of the antique market, but I only touched on collectables or collectibles. I looked it up and both spellings are correct. Isn’t English a crazy language? Many antique stores used to be called antique and collectible shops. This post will delve a little deeper into the collectibles market.
A collectible by definition is obviously anything of which you form a collection. Many antique stores used to specialize in collectibles above everything else. That used to be a big part of the fun of antiquing. Antique hunters would go on trips in search of treasures to add to their collections. The internet has made collecting a lot less fun. It used to be a thrill to search high and low for a specific porcelain doll, or railroad lantern, or cow bell to add to your collection. These days you can just type whatever you collect into a search engine and you will see whatever you are looking for, aside from the rarest of items. The internet is certainly more convenient, but it has taken the romance out of the hunt. Most antique stores that specialized in collectibles went out of business many years ago, or have gone completely online.
The Barn used to be much more focused on antique furniture. Antique furniture is still our biggest seller, however these days we actually sell more collectables than we ever have. How do we do it? Simple, we buy in volume so we can undersell the internet. Check for yourselves, the next time you are in The Barn, look up a particular cup and saucer, or an oil lamp. You will quickly notice that our prices for collectables are lower than what you find online. In fact, we often sell pieces to customers who turn around and sell them online for a profit. This begs the question: Why don’t we sell our products online? The simple answer is, it’s just not what we do, or want to do. We don’t want to spend the majority of our day in front of a computer screen, and deal with all of the hassles associated with selling online. We prefer the hassles we already have. Plus we like being a brick and mortar store. Or in our case a wood and nails store.
Many antique stores used to specialize in collectables for two main reasons. One, you need a much smaller space than if you sell primarily antique furniture. And two, there is a lot less physical labour involved. Many of our best purchases over the years have come about because other antique dealers didn’t want to do all the physical labour and work involved in moving large furniture. Every estate is different, however speaking as someone who has emptied many houses of their contents, I can attest that it is a lot of work.
Most collectables like most antiques have dropped in value significantly from their highs of decades past. But some items have increased in value. If you collect comic books your collection has appreciated over time significantly. We get people in The Barn every week searching for old advertising signs, when we are not in lockdown that is. The prices for vintage or antique advertising just keep going up.
On the other hand if you collected porcelain dolls or wicker prams the prices have collapsed. Tastes have changed over the years. There was a time when you couldn’t buy a wicker pram for under $500 and most sold for significantly more. I can’t remember the last time a customer even asked for a wicker pram, I’m sure it has been years. And yes, people used to collect prams. We used to carry porcelain dolls and they sold like hotcakes, not anymore. Now we don’t even carry them.
These days the most popular collectable items we sell are cups and saucers. We always have at least two china cabinets full. We have a dozen or more hard core cup and saucers junkies who come in at least a couple of times a month to see the latest arrivals. They rarely leave empty handed. One of the interesting things about cups and saucers, that is common to most collectables, is that the more expensive ones sell faster than the cheaper ones. The more expensive collectables are generally rare and collectors snap them up right away. The average more common pieces tend to sit around longer.
Here are some examples of our customers collections that we have heard about recently: mustache cups, miniature tea sets, bells of all types, anything owl related, gramophones, matchboxes, egg coddlers, oil lamps, CN Railway items, anything with a picture of a beaver on it, Tiffany lamps, wool winders, mason jars, sock stretchers, butter dishes, and sap buckets. Those are all collectables that customers have asked about recently. We even have a customer who collects four poster canopy beds. Seriously, he has an entire barn full.
If you feel like starting a collection, miniatures is a good way to go. They are inexpensive and don’t take up a lot of room. We always have a china cabinet dedicated to miniatures at the Barn. I could write a list of all the items we have in stock that are collectible. But that would be pointless, you can collect just about anything. Collectors usually have a great appreciation for the things they collect. And you can see the passion they have for their collections when you talk with them. Some of our customers are so knowledgeable about their collections that they teach us about the items they are buying. Who knows, maybe you are reading this and have never collected anything. One day you could be coming to The Barn to get your fix and add to your collection. But I would recommend something smaller that canopy beds.
As you are probably aware, the government of Ontario has imposed a mandatory lockdown for nonessential businesses until at least December 21st, for businesses in Peel and Toronto. We are located in Peel and therefore will be closed to instore shopping for at least the next four weeks. We will reopen as soon as the lockdown has ended.
We are still open for curbside pickup and delivery. If there are item[s] you would like to purchase, please just send us an email and please include your phone number. We will contact you to arrange delivery, or a curbside pickup time. Photos of many of our new pieces can be seen on our Reproductions page for your reference. If you require pricing or dimensions, we are happy to provide them upon request.
Believe it or not it has already been six months since the first lockdown ended and we reopened. Lets hope this is the last lockdown needed. During the first lockdown we received many requests from customers wanting to come into the store to shop. We ask that you do not make such requests, we will be following the lockdown rules and encourage everyone to do the same.
The good news is that we have lots of great new items on the way that will arrive during the lockdown. And tons of great antique items already in storage. So by the time we reopen The Barn will be packed with all kinds of new goodies. There will be far too many to list but we will provide some highlights of new arrivals before we reopen.
We will continue to post updates on this page every Monday. The three photos attached to this update are of some of this week’s new items. We will attach three photos of new arrivals to each update during the lockdown. We will also bring back the quarantine series that became popular among many readers of this page during the last lockdown.
For anyone who has a piece on order that is scheduled to arrive before Christmas, not to worry. Everything is still on the way and we will contact everyone to arrange delivery or curbside pickup, once your item[s] arrive.
We know this lockdown is coming at a bad time for holiday shoppers. We have been putting out new Christmas themed items all week. We will leave all our holiday items out on display until at least New Year’s day, for anyone needing late holiday items.
If there is anything I haven’t covered in this update, please feel free to email us your questions. Please stay safe and healthy, and we hope to see everyone soon.
This past week we got in a shipment of reclaimed wood furniture by way of Vancouver. Mostly from our Provence line, round extension dinning tables, benches, night stands, and media units have all been restocked. We also received a fresh batch of Irish Coast African Dusk dinning benches.
We had a sample shipment of hall trees a while back, and they turned out to be popular, so we got in a new batch this week. Just in time for winter coat season. We also received some new dove planters and sets of three table top boxes.
There is a big list of new antique arrivals this week, lets start with the furniture: a nice thick Primitive dinning table, 3 section oak barrister’s bookcase, Art deco cedar chest, double walnut spool bed, Louis XV living room chair, drafting table, grain scale coffee table, mahogany corner cabinet, marble top plant stand, piano bench, piano stool, 2 piece oak white wash corner cabinet, oak flat to the wall[also white wash], terrific needlepoint seat cane back rocker and chair two piece set, and more.
Non furniture antique arrivals included: a fantastic fish set with sterling mounts, bone handles, in an oak case- a photo is attached, heavy cast iron wine rack, sewing machine & stool, complete kiwi oak shoe groomer kit, 3 floor lamps[ 2 Tiffany, 1 spool], Chinese water bucket, a nice chrome and marble ashtray stand-a photo is attached, 15 assorted cups and saucer, nail barrel umbrella stand, 3 wall wood carvings[ 16” x 36” each], assorted table lamps, 3 colonial style ceiling lights, Raymond working treadle sewing machine, 2 different cement fountains, 4 assorted chandeliers[ Tiffany, swag, and 2 iron & crystal combos], a quantity of flow blue and and Indian Tree Spode china-a photo is attached, 32” soldier wood carving, assorted paintings, assorted silver plate holloware, another batch of assorted fresh smalls, and lots more.
This past week we got in the first pieces of a new teak root line we will be carrying. These pieces are made from the root systems of teak trees. Teak takes up to two hundred years to rot in the ground. In countries like Indonesia and Thailand, there exists a great deal of unusable land from teak tree plantations, where the trees have long since been cut down. Because the root systems take so long to rot, the land is unusable. Recently locals have been removing the stumps from the ground and turning them into furniture and accessories. We love this because it creates some fantastic pieces, and it’s environmentally friendly. A photo is attached of some of the new pieces. There are tables and benches, but the coolest items are amazing table centerpieces that can be used as bowls but look like amazing natural sculptures. Because the natural form is maintained, each piece is unique.
We also got it some fun new mostly Canadianna themed decorative items. A photo is attached of a few of the pieces. Lots of fun signs, boat oars, wooden figures, decoys, and other fun stuff. My favorite is the ugly fish.
In addition, a large batch of replica tin signs arrived in a variety of sizes and designs. The smallest are six inches. The largest is over nine feet long. That is not a typo, nine feet long!
New antique furniture arrivals included: 2 oak library desks[ 1 small, 1 large quarter cut], small pine blanket chest, 4 drawer desk/chest combo, 3′ x 5′ mahogany office desk, 6 banker’s chairs[2 oak arm, 4 maple side], walnut spinet desk, school master’s desk, 4 nice Windsor chairs, small round outdoor coffee table, rustic 3′ x 6′ kitchen table, cedar chest, oak stool, 2 cast iron and wicker chairs, corner folding what knot, Muskoka child’s chair, and more.
Antique odds & ends from this past week included: four 7′ wooden ladders, step ladder painted white, Wrigley’s gumball dispenser, 2 nice crocks, 2 treadle sewing machine bases, 2 sewing machines, 7 mirrored placemats, assorted china plates, stone carving, tree de-barker, Rapid Flyer red tricycle, 2 Canadian made decoys, large retro mirror, a nice collection of 17 railroad & barn lights-a photo is attached, and more.
This past week we had a rare week with few new arrivals on the reproductions end of our business, which gave us time to bring in lots of new antiques!
In the antique world we refer to anything that will fit in a china cabinet as “smalls”. New smalls arrivals from this past week included: a collection of red Bohemian glass[ two different decanter and glasses sets, 2 vases, and a bowl], lots of clean silver plate holloware- a photo is attached of some of the pieces, a box full of assorted sterling silver[3 bud vases, several trays, baskets, & small dishes], a collection of pairs of candle sticks & a large mantle candelabra, various pewter pieces, two 1930’s Wilkinson razor kits in original containers, Royal Doulton figurines, oval French bowl circa 1910, vinegar cruet, 5 crystal decanters, sets of crystal glasses, 8 piece set of porcelain cookware, a batch of tools including 10 wood planes, and more.
New antique furniture arrivals included: 2 large armoires[ 1 pine with a curved top, 1 French-a photo is attached], teak Queen Ann coffee table, bamboo magazine rack, carved camphor blanket box, mint condition modern tall oak display cabinet with unusual cool sliding door, pair of mid century modern night stands, double walnut poster bed, Windsor arm chair, office arm chair, pine table desk, nice 1920’s walnut sideboard, walnut magazine table, colonial red rocking chair, tv stand painted red, 1950’s chrome kitchen table, custom made tiger maple single bed, quarter cut oak buffet, and more.
Even more new antique arrivals included: 5 fire extinguishers-a photo is attached, table mount coffee grinder, lots of silver plate serving trays, another pile of wicker baskets, metal birdcage, 6′ painted step ladder, milk can painted green, assorted outdoor urns and planters, a few framed prints, working suitcase sewing machine, pair of brass wall sconces, and of course more.
This past week was not completely without new Reproduction arrivals. We did receive a large batch of Art glass serving trays. They make a great Christmas gift as they are all under $30 and look like they should be much more expensive. There are 7 different types, all now in stock. If you want multiples of the same one just ask, we’ve got lots.