Antique dealers making the move to where the money is

ANTIQUE enthusiasts searching for that special centrepiece need look no further than the leafy western suburbs, where many of Perth’s antique dealers are tucked away.

In a business where finding quality stock often is a difficult, expensive and time-consuming practice, many antique dealers have set up shop where the dollars are spent and made locations in Mosman Park, Claremont and Peppermint Grove their home.

In the Real Estate Institute of WA’s June property report, the western suburbs took out the top 10 positions for the highest median price of house sales. Peppermint Grove topped the list at $1.2 million, followed by Dalkeith, City Beach and Cottesloe.

With this in mind, it is no surprise that many of Perth’s antique dealers have made the established western suburbs their home, according to Australian Antique Dealers Association WA branch secretary Sharon Birtanen.

“Most of our members are along the western suburbs corridor, in areas such as Peppermint Grove, Fremantle, Cottesloe and Claremont,” Mrs Birtanen said.

“From an economic perspective dealers probably do look to locate in more established suburbs where people are earning a higher income and have better houses.”

Clive Brans Antiques director John Brans said it was crucial that his business was located in the western suburbs as almost all of his customers were from the surrounding area.

“Our customers have a fairly high income and, because they work hard, they are generally busy people and don’t have time to visit stores a long way from them,” Mr Brans said.

But more than just the location, the houses of the area were also conducive to the antique business, as some owners of older, more lavish properties sought to match inside to out.

“Some people are after a very traditional looking interior … some of our customers have antiques throughout the entire house,” Mr Brans said.

An enormous amount of effort is put into finding these pieces, with antique dealers making at least one trip overseas each year, most often to Europe, to hunt, research and buy their stock.

“It is a huge job to go overseas. We have tried searching in a number of different places,” said Mrs Birtanen, whose store Harmony Antiques now specialises in Scandinavian antiques.

“You’ve really got to look around and remember Australian antique dealers are competing with the rest of the world in this field, and American and European dealers can go in search of stock whenever they want.

“The weak (Australian) currency has not made it easy either.”

The GST, too, had not helped antique dealers, according to Mr Brans, who said the past year had been difficult for everyone involved in the industry.

“But rather than affecting the price of antiques, I believe the GST has meant many of our clients who own their own businesses have had to focus on the new system and haven’t had time for anything else,” Mr Brans said.

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