Buy new or go antique? The answer to that question is an easy one for shoppers, as the great majority go new. But there are more than a handful of stores in Medellin that cater to a group of diehard antique enthusiasts.
And for these shop owners—and their clients, antiques are a labor of love. “There’s a buyer for everything,” says Carmenza Echeverri, the co-owner of Antiguedades Santa Clara, an antique store in the Manila section of El Poblado.
Manila, it should be noted, is a neighborhood nearby trendy Parque Lleras, and is on the other side of Poblado Avenue. And is it considered an up-and-coming neighborhood. There is a restaurant row that attracts nice crowds. And real estate here is red hot and “gone crazy,” according to one local. A second floor on a house, measuring 250-square-meters, sold for COP 410.000.000 in the last week of January.
Echeverri and her partner and sister-in-law Martha Matinez have been at their current address in Manila for two years. They joined forces when they opened the antique store, though both have been in the business for 30 years.
The showroom floor is loaded with tables, chairs, sofas, dressers, lamps, paintings and statues. The partners explain that about 90 percent of the merchandise in the store qualifies as antique, mostly from Colombia. The majority of the items are their own, though they do sell pieces on consignment.
What is their most popular selling item? There is no answer, really. Because antique buyers have such diverse tastes, customers are often looking for an accent piece, they said. But other times, they could buy a large piece of furniture like a chair or a sofa. It just depends on what they want.
Echeverri said that they have each established a loyal following over the years. They have developed a relationship with clients and understand their tastes and likes. Clients look at collecting antiques and unique pieces as a hobby, they said.
“Generally, someone who buys antiquities typically has a passion for them; therefore, they come frequently to increase their collection,” Martinez added.
While furniture in their store has stood the test of time, the partners don’t believe that furniture manufactured today will. Today’s pieces aren’t as durable because they are made with pressed wood, compared to older growth wood used in antiques.
In addition, the craftsmanship of yesteryear doesn’t exist today. Ironically, furniture made with inexpensive composite wood has depressed the price of antiques, as stores can sell new furniture cheap. That is one reason why Echeverri and Martinez believe that antiques offer excellent value.