We can’t tell you how many times customers have come into our antique store carrying their prized possessions, laying them on the counter, and said things like, “My kids don’t want this. Can you sell it?” or “ Young people these days don’t appreciate heirlooms. They just want everything new!”
First, we would like to set the record straight and gladly announce that this is not entirely accurate. We are getting an increasing number of shoppers in their 20’s and 30’s furnishing first apartments and new homes (more about that later). We have one devoted customer who is a high school student and very well versed in antiques, and a doting (and brave) grandfather who frequents the store with his three grandchildren and, instead of telling them “don’t touch”, relishes in picking out interesting objects with them and explaining the history behind them.
We love seeing these customers in the store, but we do agree that there aren't enough of them, and that people tend to get rid of family possessions much too hastily. I will admit I have been guilty of such. Why is that? Why do many young people give away the contents of their parents’ and grandparents' houses and restock with new pieces to which they have no emotional attachment? And how can we change that?
Perhaps one of the reasons for this dilemma is that young people do not know the stories and history behind these family possessions. We do not have enough grandparents picking out family heirlooms and explaining their emotional and historical significance to their children and grandchildren. Before Covid-19 our daily lives had become so busy and frenetic that many families barely had time to sit together for dinner. This limited “togetherness” also limited family reminiscing and the sharing and teaching of important family history.
The good news is we can change this! As devastating as this worldwide pandemic has been, we seek a silver lining. What are we to learn from an unfortunate situation? Perhaps we are being reminded to slow down, to take time to sit together at the dinner table, to reconnect with family in a meaningful way.
One way we are encouraging this through our store is by asking our friends and followers to share stories about family heirlooms. We are inviting parents and grandparents to share their stories with their children and grandchildren and we are inviting children to welcome these stories and to understand that these sacred stories attach an emotional and historical value to family possessions that is unmatched by any monetary value.
So as we find ourselves with extra time on our hands, consider finding a special item in your home and sharing its story with a loved one. If you can’t do it in person, make a recording or write it down. Your stories just may keep your sacred family possessions where they belong… with your family.