Well, finally after more than 75 years in business, Newel has been honored as a member of the inaugural class of “2016 1stdibs Recognized Dealers”. Honestly now, do you really want to bestow such an honor on a prop house? A dealer’s inventory trades in a market by different ways and means. I’m sure Sotheby’s and Christie’s have their favored clients that get preferential treatment in pricing and information. We now get exclusive benefits from 1stdibs.
1stdibs is in this industry for keeps. They have endeavored to elevate their branding and image by the smoke and mirrors of upscale promotion. Tiffany’s maybe, but Tiffany blue is too iconic. With all the sophistication of PR and branding, 1stdibs has a clear template on how it gets done, whether it’s the auction duopoly coddling or perhaps an American Express Platinum Card comes to mind. In the maturing age of cyberspace and the cloud, 1stdibs was required to change its financial model to a more aggressive posture, as they can and must.
The list of “Recognized Dealers” is quite impressive. If any form of dealer association could join around this group, it could offer the opportunity for a powerful and productive trade organization. It could even include the future classes of “1stdibs Recognized Dealers”. However, this singular move by 1stdibs to create an arbitrary basis of like-minded international dealers, seems a bit like getting an offer to do shows like The Winter Antiques Show or Maastricht. With this invitation it sounds like it is too good to be true but lets not discuss that commission and method of how 1stdibs wants you to do business.
The more time 1stdibs has to roll out their proposed changes the more it will cherry coat their ability to break the dealer/decorator bonds, and take a commission. A fascinating similarity happened with the advent or the buyer’s premium, where the auctions thought they could siphon away collectors and decorators from dealers. Forced change and disruption by technology is coming to our industry again, and who knows who will be the winners and or losers. Three years into the future is an eternity.
Finally, I must bow my head in remembrance to all the incredible and talented dealer who have gone out of business in the last 20 years, with limited or no replacements. What would this “Recognized” group have looked like, even 10 years ago? So thank you 1stdibs for the acknowledgment; this is the first time Newel has ever been associated with other dealers in this or any such manner. 1stdibs will present opportunities but I prefer membership in an organization that will always have the dealer’s back.