Four months ago, in mid-February, Shady Lawn Antiques re-opened following our annual winter furniture restoration break.
It was a celebration of sorts; people were happy we were open again. And we were excited to show off all of our “new” inventory and the furniture we restored.
Once we re-opened, we began working through plans for an actual spring celebration event. During the planning, there was some quiet background noise about a coronavirus event in China.
How wrong we were to think we were so isolated the virus would have little or no effect on us.
In fact, the coronavirus pandemic was our spring event. The three-month business closure was certainly an event, but it was not exactly a celebration.
Six years ago, the first column I wrote for the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin addressed the question, “What is an antique?” That column was a bit academic in nature and it was a style of writing I couldn’t sustain. In fact, it contributed to a “writer’s block” that resulted in sporadic submissions.
A number of months later, I was inspired/reinvigorated by a U-B column written by Emily Dietzman of Welcome Table Farm.
Basically, her take was “this is what we are doing at Welcome Table Farm.” I adopted her approach and was immediately able to write once again.
I would now describe my writing style as a reflection on antiques, history and life in the Walla Walla Valley (from the perspective of Shady Lawn Antiques).
This provides some context for my current dilemma. On one hand, I would like to write a column entirely on antiques, history and life, that doesn’t mention COVID-19.
You know, something that allows for a momentary escape from the constant cloud that COVID-19 has created. But the fact is it is impossible to address life in the Walla Walla Valley without acknowledging that elephant in the room.
At our shop, we continuously observe and monitor a wide variety of trends. It is our way to predict how factors around us will affect our business. Those trends prompt us to clean, repair and display inventory related to the trends.
Some trends occur seasonally every year.
For example, garden items sell best in the spring, major pieces of furniture sell best in the fall and Christmas decorations sell best if they are on display by early November.
Local events also elicit interest in specific items. When there is a car show, people will be looking for automotive items. Those include car emblems, literature, license plates and gas and oil related items. Rodeo items are popular during the Pendleton Round-Up and our fair.
Another trend is that people seek out items they have seen in recently released decorating magazines and/or on television shows.
These media trends are among the most important for our prediction of new contemporary areas of interest.
Currently, we find ourselves in a bit of a predicament. Those (recently published) media pieces were in production prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Therefore they may not be entirely relevant in our current situation. It is difficult to predict if our typical model of following trends may be broken.
I’m certain we will achieve some clarity on this issue as we observe the items people are currently buying.
The good news is several weeks into our re-opening, there doesn’t seem to be much change in the types of items people are purchasing.
We also try to be aware of what is happening in society in general.
Working from home is a trend we are currently following. It appears this trend will last for some time into the future and may in fact become permanent in some cases.
We are responding by showcasing and marketing our antique home office type furniture.
These pieces include desks, bookcases, storage units and file cabinets. We even have a unique stacking bookcase with a drop front desk unit built into it.
This compact, yet extremely functional piece would work well even in the smallest of rooms.
Fortunately, we have developed a flexible business plan, and therefore, we can adapt. With every change in lifestyle trends, a new opportunity is created.