PowerSelling Podcast: Benefits of Antiques Tourism

Reading Time: 19 minutes

Danna Crawford interviews Wayne Jordan About Antiques Tourism

Introduction Danna Crawford 00:00

Hey everybody, welcome to the Power Selling Podcast. I’m your host, Danna Crawford, the Power Selling Mom. And today we will be discussing antiques tourism with Wayne Jordan. I’m really honored to be joined by someone that I’ve known for a long time and worked with. Wayne is a retired auctioneer, antique dealer, writer, editor, and is involved heavily in antiques and in antiques tourism. So, he’s an advocate for antiques tourism. We’ve been colleagues for many years. And together, we’ve done over 80 episodes of the podcast Flip it or Skip it, which is still available on all your my major podcast players. We had a wonderful run, we had a great run with that. And we have moved on to other opportunities in our world. And that’s what’s so wonderful about being both of us as entrepreneurs, we can move on to new adventures. And that’s what we’re doing today.

Wayne Jordan 01:06

That’s right, new adventures, new opportunities. Or as my wife says, can’t you keep a job?

Danna Crawford 01:14

Well said, I like that. Wayne. So, tell us where you’re at today. Bring us up to date?

Antiques Tourism Wayne Jordan 01:21

Of course. I’ve been in the antiques business for 40-some years. About eight years ago or so, I wrote an article for Antique Trader Magazine about antiques tourism. And that article is still around. I mean, you search the keyword antiques tourism, and it’s been on page one of Google for years, for a couple of reasons. One is that not many people are writing about that. But it stays up there. It keeps getting hits.

I’ve teamed up with the Main Street America program here in my hometown, if you’re familiar with that. Main Street America has been around for about 20 years, and they provide matching grants to small towns like the one I live in to help revitalize the downtown areas of their towns. It’s takes a couple of years to get approved to even be in the program, so we’re in the planning stages of that. And I’ve also hooked up locally with the tourism department here in town and in the local region. And I’ve become really enthused about the whole idea of antiques tourism. As you know, for a time I was an art auctioneer on cruise ships. I love traveling. My wife and I have traveled a lot. She’s a former flight attendant. We get around and love to travel. Also, I love antiques and it just made sense to try to put the two together. So I put together a blog. Not much to it right now because I haven’t launched it; it will be launched in a couple of weeks. But the blog is antiquestourism.com, and on it I talk about antiques, towns, places, principles of antiques tourism, and cultural and heritage tourism. And the plan going forward is to talk about cruises, train trips, and motorcoach tours.

For example, Antique Trader hired me to do a series of articles on antiques tourism. I just finished writing one and interviewing a woman who goes by the moniker, The Antiques Diva, and she’s been around for a while. Currently she lives in Venice, Italy. But she does customized one-on-one tours with antiques dealers, hoteliers, and interior designers. She takes them all over Europe. She’s in, I think, about 15 different countries. She does some things in the United States too. She’s lived in Paris and Amsterdam and London and Berlin. She has a whole network of dealers and antiques people. In fact, I just got an email from her, text I mean, about an hour ago. She’s on her way from Italy to the High Point North Carolina furniture show where she’ll be speaking. She’s got her own line of furniture. It’s quite a story. The article I’m writing probably won’t be published for another month but keep your eyes out for it. It’s an interesting story.

But she’s an Oklahoma girl. She told an interesting story that I’ll share with you. When she was a girl. She was fascinated by the response of fire ants to flooding. They have fire ants in Texas and Oklahoma; it’s an invasive species. When they get flash floods in that part of the country, the fire ants link their limbs together, legs, arms, whatever the scientific is for them. But they link them together into a big mass. And in between the legs and limbs there are air pockets. The air pockets provide buoyancy and holds them up. Enormous masses of ants can move across the water this way. And she compares that to antiques dealers, in that it’s important for dealers to support one another, to link up stay close to promote their businesses, to form associations in their local towns and, and to work together. And she’s a big supporter of that. That’s one of her main focuses. And as soon as she started telling me her story about fire ants, I was sold because I’m right there where she is. I just don’t say it as eloquently as she does.

Danna Crawford 07:08

That is a fascinating story. What a fascinating person. What fun to write about her!

Main Street America Program Wayne Jordan 07:14

Yes, and there will be more articles to come. The first one I wrote was on Frederick, Maryland, they participate in the great American Main Street program as well. It was an old factory town, blue collar, with too many empty storefronts, that sort of thing. But they’ve been working on their program for 13 years or so. It’s not uncommon for people to keep with it for years. And now they have a beautiful downtown area. They have about a dozen antique shops that are close enough to walk from one to another, and a couple of big antique malls. It’s a nice little town.

Antiques tourism is rooted in what’s known as cultural and heritage tourism. And cultural tourism is, as the name implies, about the culture, arts, and overall aesthetic of the town. Heritage is the history of a place, the museums, and that kind of thing.

What’s fascinating to me is that, worldwide, tourism is huge. It’s one of the biggest industries in the world. You have big corporations like airlines and hotel chains, but you also have a lot of smaller players — the individual towns and their tourism departments, and travel agents, and attractions. There’s an entire network of smaller entities. And cultural and heritage tourism, out of this trillions of dollar industry, takes up about half of it. About half of the people traveling are traveling for cultural heritage reasons

Danna Crawford


Wayne Jordan

Well think about it. Travelers leave town because they want new experiences. They want to see something different. You’re going down the highway and all you see from one town to another are the same fast food restaurants, the same auto service chains. There’s a sameness about all of it. That’s why people leave home. They want something authentic. They want to go to a town and eat the local food and hear the local music and hear stories from the local people. That’s what people are craving these days, especially after being locked in their houses for two or three years with COVID. Yeah, so I love it. I love the concept. I love being involved in it.

Danna Crawford 10:11

Yeah. And it’s just so fascinating. And, and you keep learning, as I always say, if you stop learning you die. So you keep learning, and you keep enjoying the heritage, the local, the interesting facts that are next door that you didn’t know about. Right.

Cultural and Heritage Tourism Wayne Jordan 10:33

Here’s a couple of interesting points about antiques tourism. Antiques can fit into both cultural heritage tourism, but they’re mostly in the heritage realm. In antiques tourism, there are primary trip generators, and secondary trip generators. Let’s talk about the primary. Danna, you go to various shows throughout the year, don’t you? What was the last one you went to?

Danna Crawford 11:09


Wayne Jordan 11:10

Okay, good. Good example. Brimfield. Now, when you went to Brimfield, tell me about your expenditures from start to finish. What did you pay to go to Brimfield, get your inventory or whatever, to ship it and come back home. Start to finish.

Danna Crawford 11:33

Yeah, so you have to book your airline ticket, your hotel ticket, and you try to get as close to the event as possible. And in areas like Brimfield, it’s not so easy, unless you want to stay at a motel. So you don’t have the fancy luxuries. But I didn’t mind spending one night at a motel. And enjoy the local culture. I also enjoyed going to a local Mom and Pop restaurant for breakfast. And it was really fun. And it was cheap; the breakfast was cheap. So that was the start of setting up that hometown feeling of the local vibe, right? And then going to Brimfield is awesome. I absolutely love Brimfield. It’s got to be my favorite place to hunt for antiques and treasures. And I dropped $400 on a stereo while I was there.

Wayne Jordan 12:51

Really? We’ll have to talk about that. You know, that’s right up my alley.

Danna Crawford 12:56

I know. Yeah. And I’m so happy because I just got it running. And it’s got disco lights, and it’s a turntable. And it also has an eight-track tape player. And it all works. So, I’m cool. I’m so excited. I did pay about $600 to ship it home. So that was a bit of an expense paid for in addition, in addition to the $400.

Wayne Jordan 13:23

Well, that’s a pretty hefty investment Danna. So, I think you’re gonna have to change your moniker. No more Power Selling Mom stuff. You gotta be Disco Danna.

Danna Crawford 13:41

Yeah, I just had to have it. I had to have it. I understand.

Wayne Jordan 13:45

So, you had to make travel arrangements. You rented a car. You found lodging. You got to the show, you spent $400, then another $600 on shipping. What did you eat when you were at the show?

Danna Crawford 14:10

The local pilgrim food, pilgrim sandwiches,

Wayne Jordan 14:14

Turkey and dressing and cranberry sauce, one of my favorites. So that illustrates the point I was making about a primary trip. You’re looking for antiques, so you decided to go to Brimfield. Brimfield was on your radar. But there are towns all over America that are known for their antiques districts like Adamstown, Pennsylvania, in Lancaster County Amish country. Their tourism website says that they have 5,000 antique dealers. I’d have to see it to believe it. I know that they have a lot. They have not just antique stores, but they have flea markets and weekend vendors. So maybe overall they might have 5,000 people involved in antiques, but you can’t go there and shop 5,000 stores. But it’s still worth going, and a lot of people do.

There are big markets everywhere. You have Long Beach and Round Top and the list goes on for the destinations that people go to for antiques tourism. But there’s also all the ancillary money that they spend. And the breakdown that I’ve seen is that for every dollar someone spends on antiques, they spend $4 on other things. Now, you spent $400, and $600 on shipping. You bought airline tickets round trip, you had hotels, you had food, I think for that particular trip for you, you probably spent more in ancillary expenses than you did in primary, right?

The other thing with antiques is that they can be a secondary trip generator. People will get to a town to see a primary attraction. For example, last summer, my wife and I went to Monticello, you know, Thomas Jefferson’s place outside of Charlottesville, Virginia. And it was nice, and it was historic, and we just walked around until we were completely worn out. It’s a lovely place, I’d highly recommend it. But often people will go to a place like that do not want to leave, they’ve seen the attraction that they went there to see, but they want more. And for cultural heritage travelers, antiques are high on the list. They’ll see an antiques store or an antiques district or an antiques mall, and they’ll want to go so they’ll spend another day. They will extend their stay for antiques. They’ll go there in the first place for the antiques, or extend their stay for the antiques, but either way for cultural heritage tourism, antiques play a big role.

Flipping on the Road Danna Crawford 17:36

Wow. One thing I didn’t mention is that I enjoy finding unique things that I may want to keep. But I like the challenge of trying to find something to flip to help pay for my trip. So that’s another angle that I do when I go to things like that. I found a couple of lamps and a valuable clock that I haven’t listed yet because I am enjoying their presence in my home. But I plan on selling them and they will add up to enough to pay for my trip.

Wayne Jordan 18:21

And that’s the way it is often for dealers, I’ve considered that if I wanted to get a motorcoach or an RV and hit the road I could probably pay for everything by picking antiques. But I don’t want to work that hard anymore. I’m retired, let someone else do that. Yeah, I don’t do too much buying and selling anymore. If I’m out and I see something that I think is just killer, and the price is right, I might buy it. If I am able to get my usual markup when I flip it, I may go ahead and buy it, but I’m not out beating the bushes and listing 1,000 items in an eBay store or using multi-platform outfits like List Perfectly. I always figured that when I got to this age, I’d be rich and handsome. But I’ll let you guess which one.

Danna Crawford 19:43

Yeah, one, one out of two ain’t bad.

Wayne Jordan 19:46

That’s right. Well, zero out of two.

Danna Crawford 19:51

No, but I think that tourism is so fascinating and as you know, I went to airline travel college and I love to travel and I love the experience and absorbing it all. I had a guest on the other day that does motorcoach tours to thrift stores. Yes, she was fascinating to speak with, Patti Clark, and she’s on an episode here at Power Selling Podcast. And she does motorcoach tours from Ocala, Florida, to Naples, Florida. She has a bus with 50 people and fills it every Thursday. And it’s amazing. But my point is, there’s a thrift store. You know, you go to a thrift store. A lot of my friends are resellers and thrifters, and they don’t expect to see antiques.

I’m amazed at how many antiques there are because a lot of times thrift stores don’t know what they are. However, sometimes they overprice them because they’re antique. I went into a thrift store in Fort Myers, thinking I’m going to look for clothes to flip on eBay. And here, there were cases in cases of antique porcelain dolls, corkscrew things and just all kinds of true antiques. And I was amazed that here we are at a little thrift store. I even asked him “is this a consignment store?” Because it seemed so well put together. But it wasn’t, it was a charity shop. So, you never know, the thrift stores may have sections on Antiques. Right?

Antiques Are Still Relevant Wayne Jordan 22:10

Well, antiques get a bum rap these days. You say “antique” and folks think old, and dusty, and brown furniture, and mold, and you know the deal. But I’ve always been an antiques guy. I prefer antiques. Collectibles don’t do much for me. They’re here today, gone tomorrow. Some of them get caught up in a price bubble that eventually bursts. And I’m just not into NF Ts and trading cards and that kind of thing.

But give me a nice, well put together, piece of furniture or handcrafted porcelain or glass or something like that and I’m over the moon. I love to see that kind of stuff. And you can still find things like that around, because people aren’t looking for it anymore. They don’t know what it looks like. The knockoffs are so commonplace and so good these days that you really have to know how to approach glassware; what it smells like, and how it feels in your hand, and how translucent is it, and you have to use your senses to do that. And that’s why I like antique stores. These types of stores are at the heart of antiques tourism.

We’ve talked about this before — I owned a couple of stores. We sold musical instruments and music related antiques and collectibles. We had a big restoration shop; we did antiques and pianos, and our work is in governor’s mansions and museums. And that was my thing in those days, when I was young enough to work that hard. What’s nice about stores is you can go in and pick things up and touch them and feel them and turn them around in your hands and feel the heft of it. And that’s something that you can never do in online selling. You also can’t interact with customers as well — customer interaction, customer care, when someone walks into your store. That’s getting to be a lost art.

A few years back, when department stores were big, I was in the men’s department of a large retailer. There was a woman walking around holding a four-year old’s hand and the sales clerk came up and said, “Can I help you?” And the little boy said, “No, we’re just looking.” And it just floored me. Four years old, and his mother’s got him trained. He said that because he’s heard her say it. I didn’t know what to be shocked the most about, that it came out of the mouth of a four-year-old, or the fact that the clerk said, okay, and turned around and left. And I see that all the time,

Hillsville, Virginia has a huge flea market on Labor Day, and people come from as far away as Texas. It’s a big show, it’s huge. And I saw a very nice antiques display in a tented area; they had artificial turf on the ground, and they had all their merchandise tagged. My wife and I walked in, looked around to see if anything caught my eye. Crickets from the husband and wife dealers that were sitting there watching us walk around. I picked up a tag and looked at it, and the first thing he said to me, my first contact with that dealer was, “Those prices are negotiable.” So right away, what’s he telling me? First, he ignored me when I came in. Second, he said his prices are a fantasy, they’re not what he’s gonna get. And he never got up out of his chair. That happens a lot in retail stores these days because people don’t know the process.

Antiques dealers have such a great edge. When people go into an antique store, most of them are going in to browse. Some of them may be collectors looking for particular things. But most of the folks going in are there to browse. Those are your very best people to sell to because they’re not looking for something specific. If they come in, they say, “Oh, do you have a framistan for a Gibson guitar?” and you say, “no,” they’re out the door. But when someone comes in, what I do is greet them when they come through the door. “Hi, thanks for coming by. Take your time, look around, I’ll be with you in a minute.” That’s even if I’m doing nothing. “I’ll be with them in a minute.” I give them a chance to walk around, and I watch. I notice what they pick up and what gets their attention. And then once they’ve settled on something, I’ll approach them and say “That’s nice. Did you used to have one of those when you were a kid?” They reply “Oh yeah, we took this down to the to the stream and we would float these things on the water and shoot at them with our BB guns and my friend shot his eye out.”

But having a conversation with them is critical, because if you don’t do that, if they pick up something and say “What’s the best you could do on this?” instantly, you’re in a dicker. Nobody wins a dicker. A dicker is about price. That’s what I don’t like about online selling. I mean, I do it. But it’s all about price. I mean, you can write descriptions till you’ve written War and Peace. Ultimately, a purchase will still come down to price. But in an antique store, you can draw someone out, get them reminiscing. Bring nostalgia into the picture because people don’t buy logically, they buy emotionally, and justify logically. So, if they’re holding something in their hand, and they’re telling you their story about it, you can engage them by repeating what they say back to them. And they just keep on going. They’re not going to go home without that thing because it means so much to them. There will always be a negotiation on price but then it becomes a matter of value; not price, but rather the value to the customer. Why do they value it? Why do they want it and what’s it worth to them?

For example, when I was a kid, I was a huge baseball fan. I mean this goes back to the Washington Senators. I grew up in D.C., and I went to the old Griffith stadium before the new stadium was built. We’re talking 1950s. And so, I like baseball, especially the Senators. Now, I’m not a card collector. But if I came across a Camilo Pascual, who was a Senator’s pitcher, if I saw a card like that, I might be willing to pay $50-$60 for it, because I have a story about it. Pascual only hit one home run in his career, and he hit it into the left field bleachers. And I was in the left field bleachers with my best friend when he hit that ball, and my friend got it. So, if I saw that card, it would be valuable to me, because there’s a story that goes along with it. Now, if a dealer thought, “Well, maybe this card is worth 20 bucks, I would pay him 20 bucks in a heartbeat. But he could have gotten $60, if he talked to me about it, you know what I mean? And that’s why it takes some interaction, you’ve got to uncover their values, why they want something. And you could only do that in an antique store in a one-to-one situation. You could do that at a show, of course, but at shows you’ve got so many people to deal with. It’s a completely different process there. But I am a sucker for a good salesman and a good antique dealer. Because if he starts saying what I would have said, he’s got me, I’m done.

Danna Crawford 31:46

I love that. That’s, you know, it’s something that sellers probably overlook, you know, as part of their marketing plan, because you don’t you just think about the sale and the money. And you don’t think about the interaction.

Tourists Love to Shop Wayne Jordan 32:04

Well, consider for a minute that that’s why we call it shopping. We’re going around looking and comparing. And that’s shopping. If we weren’t out looking, comparing, we’d be buying. So, we’re shopping. And that’s different. It’s a different level of satisfaction for people. How many people do you know that refer to shopping as retail therapy? That’s why it’s therapeutic.

Danna Crawford 32:38

Yeah, a lot. Because it is therapeutic. And that’s why a lot of these people go on thrifting bus trips, because they get to mingle with people. And they get to shop. And some of them have no direction, they just want to go look around and have a good time. But you have other people who are resellers, and they’re going because they get discounts at all the stores. So they get like 75% discount, so it’s a big discount. So a lot of resellers will pay $70 to go on a bus trip, so that they can get the discounts at all the thrift stores. There’s one guy that collects military memorabilia, and another one collects fishing gear. And they’re on a mission. So, it’s so interesting that there are so many types of shoppers.

Wayne Jordan 33:48

That’s true. When I was actively dealing, my focus was on profit and my wife would tease me about it. We would go somewhere and I’d see something and she’d raise her eyebrows and say “Ooo, income opportunity.” I saw everything through that lens, you know, what am I going to pay for it, how am I going to market it, who’s gonna buy it? That was all top of mind. I was I was in that groove. I was out looking for inventory. And that’s what I was focusing on. But now I kind of like this phase of my life, where I don’t have to do that anymore. If I find something that’s killer, I’m gonna buy it because that’s what I do. But I like taking my time and examining something and looking at and appreciating the craftsmanship and that sort of thing. And, you know, once I’ve done that, if I want to flip it, I’ll flip it.

Danna Crawford 34:49

Yeah, but you’ve come a long way Wayne. I mean, thinking about auctioneering and, repairing furniture and going through all of the cycles of your life and now it’s like, okay, I want to buy it. I’m gonna buy it. No, I don’t have to flip it. If I want to flip it, I will. But it’s still just a little more relaxing, I think.

Wayne Jordan 35:15

Well, quite a bit. Now the pressures is off. I didn’t I didn’t grow up to be a go-zillionaire, but I live comfortably. Our kids are grown and married and have their own families and are self-supporting. It’s a nice spot to be in, sure. But by golly, I earned it.

A Salvation Army Story Danna Crawford 35:45

That’s the circle of life. That’s right. And you earned it. That’s it. I do have to tell you, I went into a Salvation Army. And looking around looking around, I needed to go to the restroom, but I was in a hurry. And I thought no, I’m just gonna keep looking some more. So I spot these giant Coca Cola bottles, they were about probably, I don’t know, 24 inches tall. And there were six of them. And they were in a big wooden box. The box was marked some type of amusement company. It was like a ring toss game from a carnival. And it had the wooden rings laying on the bottles. It was up very high on a shelf. And I thought OMG I got to have that. I hurry up and looked it up online. I thought “$500 easy,” because of the advertising it had on it. And it was a rare type of item from an amusement park that was from the ring toss game. And it had the Coca Cola brand all over it. Looking around, I can’t find anybody to help me. And I was like, “okay, I have to go to the restroom.” So I went straight to the restroom and hurry back. And as I’m coming back, here comes a lady pushing her cart with the Coca Cola bottles. And I was like, “no, no.” I didn’t know how much they were, either. So I’m angry at myself, you know? I already had a cart full of clothing items, so I think okay, let me just leave, I’ll get behind her. So I got behind her in the checkout line, and I’m just waiting. And she’s looking at me. I say, “yeah, those are pretty cool. I’ll be honest with you, I was actually wanting them, but I had to go to the restroom.” “Oh, I’m sorry, she says. And I thought, “yeah, I’m sorry, too.” I said “what are you going to do with them?” And she said, “Oh, we’re having a party this weekend, and I’m just going to have them out so people can play for shots. You know, we’re gonna toss the rings to have shots of tequila.” And I was just like,”oh.” I wanted so bad. I mean, I just froze. I didn’t know what to say. I wanted to say, “well, here’s my card. When you’re done playing tequila shots, can you call me and I’ll buy it from you.” And I just didn’t know how to how to handle it. Because part of me wanted to say “Do you know that’s worth a lot of money?” And part of me didn’t want to tell her. And so I just kind of froze. And then she went to check out and the clerk said, “Oh, what’s where’s the price tag on that?” She said, “Oh, it’s right here. It’s $24.99 and I almost threw up. Well, okay, it wasn’t meant to be. In the restroom, I was already planning how I was going to sell it. I was going to ship it in a giant Charmin toilet paper roll box. I had it all figured out how I was going to list it and ship it. And I never dreamed that it would have been gone that fast. So snooze, you lose.

Wayne Jordan 39:34

And it happens and it happens. has happened to all of us.

Closing Remarks Danna Crawford 39:41

Yes, but there you have it. There’s a very cool item found in a Salvation Army. So Wayne, as far as traveling goes, Are you going to get to travel or are you just going to be interviewing people or both?

Wayne Jordan 39:59

Well I doubt that I’ll be traveling, I probably won’t be traveling for the publications I write for because what they pay for articles won’t pay for the trip. But if I’m already going somewhere, then I’ll take advantage of it. Right now I’m working with the Blue Ridge Travel Association in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. That comprises five or six counties, I’ll be traveling regularly to little towns in the Blue Ridge and writing about them, blogging about them, that sort of thing. So, for this summer anyway, I’ll be doing traveling up and down the 460 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway in the little towns along the way. I’ll write about mountain culture, tourist attractions, and that kind of thing. And I’ll be putting those on the antiques tourism website, as well.

Danna Crawford 41:00

That is going to be really fun. Will your wife will go with you?

Wayne Jordan 41:04

Of course. I don’t go anywhere without her.

Danna Crawford 41:08

Ah, that’ll be really a fun adventure.

Wayne Jordan 41:12

Yeah. And we’ve lived here for quite a while and have hit most of the high spots, but there are so many places that we haven’t been like festivals and wineries. We have world class cheesemaker right here in Galax — they win competitions in France — and it’s a local mountain cheese company. So there are lots of cultural and heritage activities around here. Galax, where I live, is deemed the world capital of old time mountain music. This music was around before bluegrass, so you know, it’s the real classic stuff. And it’s everywhere. It’s everywhere. And not to mention the Moonshine Capital of The World over in Franklin County, Virginia. Books and movies have been written about Franklin County. Of course, writing about that might be more fun if I still enjoyed moonshine, but that stuff will eat your stomach and your throat and everything along the way. So I don’t mess with that.

Danna Crawford 42:24

Yeah, yeah, that’s pretty toxic.

Wayne Jordan 42:28

That makes tequila look like Milk of Magnesia.

Danna Crawford 42:31

Oh, my goodness. Well, any final words Wayne?

Wayne Jordan 42:38

I think that antiques are relevant. I think they’re fun, and traveling to embrace antiques tourism as a part of cultural heritage tourism is really the best way to go because getting there is half the fun.

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