Allan Blackburn column

Allan Blackburn, Owner of GB Antiques Centre and Lancaster Leisure Park
Allan Blackburn, Owner of GB Antiques Centre and Lancaster Leisure Park

So the January sales continue and we are still so busy with visitors, which is great.

Since I came back from my holiday in the Cotswolds I have been assessing the people through our doors.

This week there has been a clear divide of family visitors and trade dealers and the spilt is quite even.

We see people who have been saving for Christmas and have decided it’s time to treat themselves, hunt out a bargain or spend money given as a present.

This December was our best ever with an upturn in overseas trade.

Things have changed in the international antiques market. In days gone by, an overseas buyer would come in with a shopping list, and we’d pack and ship the items back to his home country, where he would re-sell them.

This still happens of course, but increasingly, due to the wonders of modern technology, these businessmen are so busy running their companies, that they send a runner.

The runner comes to the centre and will take photos of everything and using wifi send these back to the buyer as emails.These buyers are usually from the far east.

The buyer will say yes or no to the items in the pictures, the runner pulls them to one side and we pack them ready for shipping.

There are two types of buyers. One sort will have a huge warehouse full of English stock.

They decorate their offices in a retro English Art Deco style and they’ll buy anything they think they can resell at a profit.

Furniture or smalls they don’t care.

The other type come in looking for specific items and have a “shopping list”.

These items have often been sold on in their home country, before they’ve even been picked off my shelves.

The type of thing they go crazy for is, believe or not, 1960’s teak furniture, dark brown 1960’s and 1970’s circular tables where the chairs fit underneath.

The sort of thing you couldn’t give away in this country.

The best example is Ercol.

Foreign trade has probably doubled the 2nd hand price of Ercol, where-as a few years ago we couldn’t sell it at any price.