Northside Neighbor Newspaper
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Popularity of heirlooms continues unabated
By Noreen Lewis Cochran
Centuries before the Dow Jones Industrial Average made its debut in 1884, furniture craftsmen created another quality of life index.
“Buying an antique is an undisputed good investment,” said Sheila Benson, owner of Foxglove Antiques and Galleries. “Antiques are timeless, well-made heirlooms to pass down to the next generation.”
They are also remarkably resistant to market corrections and recessions, said Ms. Benson, whose 15,000-square-foot showplace contains treasures from a $4 roll of Italian wrapping paper to a $28,000 French china cupboard.
“Almost every shop has suffered from today’s economic woes, but not one has gone out of business,” Ms. Benson said about more than 80 retailers on Miami Circle, Buckhead’s antiques center. “Most retailers have taken a bit of a hit in the 2009 economy, but Foxglove has definitely seen an uptick in sales since the end of the summer.”
Two factors in that uptick are second homes and the latest interior decorating fashion — Swedish, French and Italian painted furniture.
“Some very well-known designers love to add an antique painted piece to a clean, contemporary interior for a terrific complementary balance,” Ms. Benson said about the muted tones of home furnishings built and painted in the 1700s and 1800s. “The beautiful patina cannot be duplicated today.”
Today’s trends, however, work well with cabinets, tables and chairs dating back to the 1600s.
“More and more people are ‘going green,’ and what more elegant way to help save the environment than by purchasing beautiful pieces of furniture that were made long ago?” Ms. Benson said. “No new trees have been sacrificed when pieces are made from wood that was cut in the 17th, 18th or 19th centuries.”
At Franya Waide Antiques and Interiors, Gallery Director Summer Loftin agreed.
“I believe the antiques industry has and will continue to grow and prosper along with the ‘Go Green’ movement,” she said. “As families become more eco-friendly and environmentally aware, vintage furniture and antiques will gain recognition.”
Two other trends are also driving sales, Ms. Loftin said.
“As always, this time of year brings in clients and designers looking for the perfect dining table, chairs, sideboard or mirror in order to prepare their home for the holidays,” she said.
Atlanta antiques retailer knows firsthand about the snake-bit economy:
We’ve all heard that the economy is snake-bit, but now an Atlanta antiques retailer is, too! Sheila Benson, owner of Foxglove Antiques on Miami Circle in Buckhead, was recently bitten by a copperhead snake in rural Texas.
Benson was shopping at an international antiques fair when she was bitten on her right foot while walking to her car at dusk. She never saw the snake, but the pain was immediate. After two hospital visits in Texas and appointments with two doctors in Atlanta, Sheila is feeling better. Doctors have emphasized to her that a complete recovery could take months.
Mrs. Benson says that she never before realized that searching for unique pieces for her shop could be such hazardous duty. “I now know that healing from a poisonous snakebite is somewhat like the economic recovery: it just takes time”.
While her foot may still be painful and swollen, Mrs. Benson asserts that fall sales seem to be on the mend. “I think that most retailers have taken a bit of a hit in the 2009 economy, but Foxglove has definitely seen an uptick in sales since the end of the summer”, she said.