Friday, August 29, 2008

Truly dancing through Paris

Through summer vacation, getting the kids off to schoool, and everything in between, I've completely been neglecting my blog. Today I'm off on my whirlwind tour of France until Monday, the 8th. I know I should be looking forward to all the good eats and possible adventures but I'm rather apprehensive, it keeps getting harder and harder to leave Doug and the kids to fend for themselves. Not that Doug can't handle it, but it's 10 days with no mommy, and no kids like that.
Cecilia has been overwhelming the two of us lately with all her "wants", she is constantly asking for something, a new toy, new shoes, new movies. Wherever we go whether it be the supermarket or Target, she believes she deserves to get something. She is truly in a "me" centered world. And I don't think we have ever been excessive parents with her. Yes, she has a room full of toys and dolls but I know plenty of people whose kids have a lot more toys than Cecilia. When I told her I was leaving to France, her first question was: "are you going to bring me something?" No questions about why or how long. The only other question was "why can't I go too, you took me when I was a baby?" I was almost comforted by this question. At least she had some other interest than acquiring more "stuff."
We've decided to put her in a soccer mini-league to help her learn some athletic skills as well as (hopefully) some concentration. In typical fashion her main concerns were 1. "winning the soccer trophy" and 2. wearing the "right" clothes. I succumbed to buying her the right clothes, though hesitated, because she did look rather ridiculous in her plaid bermuda shorts. I've never bought her sportswear because I'm such a sucker for nice clothes. Alas, in this situation it was only appropriate. Soccer is not the most feminine sport but I figure she can always take ballet later. I need something that will wear her out! And she's going to take violin as well. Keeping my fingers crossed on the concentration there.
I'm off to pack--my least favorite thing in the world. It just makes me anxious. I hope to take lots of pictures and come back with lots of stories about the French. Stay tuned.

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Wall Street Journal

For those of you lucky enough to have missed it, last Friday, on the cover of the Weekend Journal, we were sited in an article entitled "New Bargains on Old Furniture; As 18th- and 19th-Century Antiques Fall Out of Favor, Prices Are Plummeting.” In case you must read it, here is the link. After a week of neglecting my blog to work on an adequate letter to the editor, I felt that I should publish it here.

Dear Editor,

I am writing in reference to the Nancy Keates’ article published by the WSJ on Friday, July 25, 2008 on the cover of the Weekend Journal titled “New Bargains on Old Furniture; As 18th- and 19th-Century Antiques Fall Out of Favor, Prices Are Plummeting.”

I should start by letting you know that our business was interviewed and misquoted for this article, which is of direct consequence to me and my business. Aside from the misquote, we were most disconcerted by the fact that the article painted a grim picture of an industry that in our firsthand experience is doing remarkably well and experiencing growth, for those who have known how to adapt to the changing market. Suggesting that all antiques are unfavorable and unfashionable can only hurt us. I cannot understand with what motive Nancy Keates or the WSJ would publish such detrimental “news”. I will begin with the reference to our store.

The article states: Alhambra Antiques in Coral Gables, Fla., is posting almost all its growing inventory on the Web, and cutting prices 30% from what it would have charged in the store. Still, people ask if that's the best price, says marketing director Doug Scott.”

We never stated that we were cutting our prices by 30%. At the time of the interview, we were having a limited-time seasonal summer sale on garden furniture only and those items were discounted 30%. We have already received phone calls and a visit from your readers expecting such discounts. When I pointed out to one of those callers, that my marbletop tables are in the $4,000-$7,000 range, he seemed flabbergasted. “Those aren’t bargains!” he rightfully exclaimed. I am requesting that this significant material misrepresentation be corrected by your newspaper.

We are posting our inventory on our website, but only to increase our sales. Any retail business in the US is simply not looking ahead if they don’t sell online. It is not because “antiques are falling out of favor” or “prices are plummeting.” It is for our customers’ convenience. In fact, we told Ms. Keates that our sales have continued to grow year to year, and if anything, due to the fact that we import from Europe, our prices have steadily climbed, similar to the new furniture to which she refers. Any comments made that contradicted the idea of “prices plummeting” were dismissed. Unfortunately, we feel she was not interested in hearing the truth.

Ms. Keates made untrue blanket statements about the antiques market by lumping Victorian bric-a-brac sold on Ebay with the quality, trendy antiques sold by us or our peers. The article states, “Younger consumers want more casual, cleaner lines, just as they do with clothing.” This is absolutely true, and the reason why as heavily carved antiques have fallen out of favor, the prices of Swedish, Biedemeier, or Art Deco antiques have sky rocketed. Painted Scandinavian furniture and Italian crystal chandeliers have become so hot that dealers cannot replace them fast enough in their showrooms. Certain antiques have lost their value but the industry as a whole is doing well. Look at the success of, a website that features the top antique and vintage design dealers in the country. Interestingly, the Journal recommended shopping on 1stDibs for antiques back in 2006 (“Interior Decorators on Where to Shop the Web for Home Décor” by Elizabeth Blackwell, March 6, 2006). 1stDibs posts approximately 4,000 new items monthly and boasts a turn over rate of over 60% on a monthly basis. Doesn’t exactly sound like merchandise or an industry “falling out of favor.” Successful dealers have adapted to the changing styles by altering their offerings within the antiques realm and not escaping it.

Another quote from the story was the most surprising – “Flip through any home magazine and it's tough to spot an antique among all the chrome, clean lines and modernist decor.” Any home magazine? I don’t know what home magazines Ms. Keates reviewed. Pick up Architectural Digest, Veranda, House Beautiful, Elle Décor, Domino, Vogue Living, Traditional Home, Southern Accents, Martha Stewart Living, or Oprah HOME and you won’t see a single issue without something about antiques or vintage furniture. Last month’s Martha Stewart Living had an entire chapter devoted to antique shopping across the US, and the renowned Keno brothers have a regular column in Traditional Home. Only niche design publications, which focus on the cutting edge, may not include antiques.

I’d also like to comment on this quote – “The trend is reinforced by the products promoted by retailers such as Target and Ikea and the set designers for TV shows.” Again, how Target and Ikea ended up as the style setters of the entire home design world is beyond me. Someone looking to buy a $50 coffee table is doing so because of the price point not as a design statement. We are not competing with Ikea for consumers. Even so, many popular retailers such as Pottery Barn or William Sonoma take their inspiration from classic antiques and use antique accessories to enhance their catalogs.

Lastly, I would like to add that I am a regular subscriber to the Wall Street Journal, I did not just read this article because it pertained to me. After reading it, I was shocked that such a renown and reputable newspaper would publish an article that truly missed the mark about our business.

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