The term “antiques dealer” has an archaic ring, and the image, what image? Unsavory or crotchety, independent and self-sustaining, passionate but a bit irreverent, this breed of an economic misfit is singular to the art dealer, real estate player, or financial investor. Owning and controlling a physical inventory, whether in a virtual or brick and mortar location requires a certain knowledge and trading capacity. Individually, you are being set up for limited possibilities; collectively, has better prospects.
The incredible decimation in the base of antiques dealers over the last 2 decades has been staggering in its toll and a rapidity of its results. When the good times rolled prior to that period, dealer success was an afterthought; anyone could make it; just show up at a Pier Show in Manhattan and you could be part of the fun. Yet, there never was any form of association between the dealer trade, short of the few who gained entry into a fraternity of some elitist dealer organization. Excuse me, but give me the masses of dealers and not the chosen few who represent no one in the industry.
The time is now for dealers to define who they are and what they stand for and against. Issues like internet platforms, auction reform, ivory trade, education, image branding, and self-esteem in the profession are central to any possibility of success for an antiques dealer association. The process is now starting with a consensus of many far flung dealers who have a relationship with 1stdib. The issues with 1stdibs are now secondary to the opportunity for dealers to coalesce around each other for the benefit of a potential organized membership. No one individual dealer has as much to gain as the larger group of participants who are the trade.