The decline of antique shops and other small businesses on the high streets of Britain is obvious to anyone who walks around a city shopping centre.
Multinational chains and large franchised outlets abound as independent traders are too often forced into the margins. In the South and south east – as well as other areas of Britain where property prices have risen – the problem is particularly bad.
Now another rise in the cost of business rates means some antique shops could go out of business.
According to the Federation of Small Businesses more than half a million businesses are facing a rates increase of up to a staggering 300%.
This means that many antique shops and businesses which are already financially extended may have no choice but to sell up and seek different ways to trade.
So, what are the alternatives? Many antiques businesses will already have an online presence either through a website, social media app or online auction and this mode of dealing will no doubt continue to grow.
However there will always be a desire and need for dealers and public to come together and have a real and physical interaction with these objects – in other words to actually see and touch as well as buy and sell antiques.
Given the decline in shops due to these high expenses, this need for old fashioned shopping is often left to antiques centres and particularly antiques fairs to offer a reliable and relatively affordable opportunity for dealers to exhibit their goods on one site.
And as we wait for governments to recognise the consequences of taxing small businesses out of towns and cities – turning them into one homogenised mass in which the same shops dominate our streets – the burgeoned antiques dealer is often left to navigate a most tricky course as he or she tries to find a way to reach enough customers yet still balance the books.
by Robert Shaw | firstname.lastname@example.org
After studying journalism at Highbury College, Portsmouth, Robert worked as a full time news and features journalist at a number of newspapers in the south of England.He has also written a number of articles on antiques and antiques dealing.Robert has been buying and selling antiques for nearly thirty years, sourcing a variety of antique objects but with a special interest in Chinese pieces.He is based in Chichester, West Sussex. Robert can regularly be found buying and selling at fairs and markets both in the U.K and Europe including the massive Newark antiques fair where he exhibits in the George Stephenson building.
The next IACF fairs are at: Ardingly on the 7th & 8th of March; Shepton Mallet on the 10th, 11th and 12th March; Newark Runway on 20th March and Newark International on the 30th & 31st March. For more information go to www.iacf.co.uk