June 16, 2015 Updated June 18, 2015
Front Porch Antiques In Mullica Hill, N.J., Celebrates And Looks Back At The Last 25 Years In Business
By Judith Salvino It started 25 years ago for Front Porch Antiques when my sister and I inherited our aunt’s estate. It was chocked full of antiques and collectibles. As novices in the antiques business, we started having yard sales on a weekly basis. On a business trip, my husband, Jim, purchased a Schroeder’s Antiques Book. Thumbing through the book, he sphttp://thefrontporchantiques.com/wp-admin/tools.phpied a picture of a glass Christmas bird. The same bird we had sold at our yard sale for 25 cents was listed in the book for $18. No wonder the woman had asked, “Do you have any more? I’ll take them all.” That did it. We packed up the rest of the estate and brought it back to our hometown in New Jersey. We decided to educate ourselves before we sold another thing. Weekends were spent devouring antique shops, flea markets, yard sales and auctions. Pretty soon we were not only learning all about antiques but also falling in love with them. We began buying much more than we sold and realized we needed an outlet for our new hobby. In 1989, we discovered co-ops were quite popular. We found one located in a Mullica Hill Antique Village with approximately 28 other antique shops and rented space. We still had much to learn, and as we were setting up shop a fellow dealer purchased a blue and white pitcher from us for $20. When asked, she responded correctly, that it was a spongeware pitcher. Again, Schroeder’s came to the rescue, showing us the pitcher was listed for $250. Oh well, another learning experience. On the other hand, another dealer scouring our booth spied a pair of sulfide marbles for $6 each. She knew they were worth much more, but instead of purchasing them she educated us by saying, “Are you going to mark them up or should I buy them?” Another learning experience, but the one that was more beneficial to us was when we started realizing we could sell a hundred items at a few dollars, making a small profit, or sell one quality item and double our money. That’s when we decided to concentrate on quality rather than quantity and started purchasing Colonial Revival furniture and accessories dating from late 19th century to the early 20th century. The year was 1990, and it seemed everyone was in the antiques business. You just had to rent an area, and they would come. We now had a full library of antique books and still loved scouring museums, historic houses, antique markets, shops, and yard sales. It was now time to move on and find our own shop. Jim and I purchased a seven-room farmhouse in the same Mullica Hill Antique Village location. At first we rented space and set it up as an upscale co-op antique shop. Our inventory grew, and as dealers left, instead of renting the space, we filled it with our own merchandise. For the next several years we could hardly keep up with it. We purchased wonderful antiques, priced them fairly and had a steady stream of customers. Many regulars felt more like friends than customers. At first the computer age didn’t have much of an impact on us. It was great for research, and it was easy to sell mediocre merchandise at a good price. Then it became obvious that many items previously considered rare were in abundance on eBay. Our specialty was furniture, which didn’t sell that well on the Internet with the cost of shipping, but was still going strong for us. In fact, 2001 was one of our best years, and sales remained brisk until 2005. After that, there seemed to be a slow decline in sales, and then in 2008, the recession struck. Several shops in our area closed their doors as the owners decided to retire. In fact, all over the country many of our interesting haunts were no longer in business. With the computer age upon us, we decided to build our own website at www.thefrontporchantiques.com and also joined an online selling website, Ruby Lane. One of our first sales went to Beijing, China. This person would have never come into our shop, and the sales have continued to come from areas in and outside of New Jersey. We’re reaching a customer base that would never have had the opportunity to visit our shop. Our opinion on selling furniture online has changed, perhaps because our prices are very fair and many customers don’t mind paying for shipping. Although selling on the Internet has become lucrative, it’s brought new challenges. One lesson was how to learn how to take quality and interesting photos. It’s best to take several photos showing every angle. If the piece is signed, make sure that’s visible. Descriptions of your item are extremely important, as a person isn’t able to feel and touch so you almost have to write a visual story. Add to our job description photographer, shipper and storywriter. Our shop is our first love, and we still have a steady flow of customers–more browsers than buyers, but customers enjoy handling and seeing their antiques in person. We have a special flair for decorating and setting up perfect vignettes, which the customers appreciate. Although our sales are not as brisk as they once were, we still love to travel and purchase antiques. Once the economy turns around, and it will, we’ll be ready, on the Internet and at The Front Porch Antiques shop.