Going Antiquing

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary

by Daniel Nardini

It is the dead of winter, and the temperature outside is 15 Fahrenheit for the high of the day. Snow had previously fallen the day before, and so the driveway to my wife’s antique store is full of ice and snow. Although the city tried to clear out as much of the snow and ice as possible, there was still enough of it left to be a concern. Yet that did not stop the droves of people who came into the antique store where my wife works and from buying as much stuff as possible. Even in the dead of winter, the antique store took in a good deal of revenue that it made the day worth while. And the items bought were largely the same—-furniture, old books, antique plates, old toys, old record albums, old radios, and old kitchen silverware.

Why were people buying all of this stuff even though it was used? The answer was the same……it was stuff once made in the USA. Even though the stuff was old and used, people were in part nostalgic for what was made then, and for something that they feel was a better made item a long time ago than something made in China or Indonesia today. There is a reason for this. The furniture many people bought in the antique store was made of a higher quality, is much more heavy (my wife knows that one as such pieces are hard to carry outside to customer’s cars), and are of a style no longer being made (actually, some of the furniture pieces are still being made today, but they are more costly than those furniture pieces found in the antique store). It is a sad statistic that back in the 1960’s nine in ten products sold in the United States were made in the USA. Today, only five in ten items sold in this country were made in the USA.

Of course, there are many things that were once in the USA that are not made anymore in this country. I have seen people buying old toys like G.I. Joes, Barbie dolls, and old phonographs that were once made here. In so many ways, this is a trend, a kind of rebellion against the big retail stores like Walmart, Target and Costco which import most of their merchandise. There is a trend where people are looking for quality, and do not see it in the things they buy in the big retail stores which only sell merchandise from Third World countries. It seems to a growing number of Americans that the big retail stores have sacrificed quality for profit and cheap goods. And if Americans cannot find enough products made in USA or other countries where quality products are made (such as Great Britain, Germany, Canada, Japan, etc.), then they made turn to alternatives. Because of this, some people are turning to antique shops like where my wife works. I can well understand the trend. In my case, I will try and buy new items, where there are any, made in USA.

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