FAIRBANKS — Fairbanks has an unpredictable market for antiques and collectibles.
Terry Haynes, who manages Airport Road Store Antique Mall, said vintage furniture, clothing or anything aviation related are so popular it’s hard to keep them in stock.
What doesn’t sell, even though people think of it as valuable, is their grandmothers’ best china sets.
“China sets, a place setting for six or eight or more people, they don’t sell very well because people just don’t sit down for dinner,” he said. “People automatically assume that because something is old it will have value and people will want it. That isn’t always the case.”
That doesn’t mean you should completely discount kitchen goods. His store sees a brisk trade in tea cups, metal signs — such as ones for beer or Coca Cola — and cooking utensils.
Haynes hasn’t always been a dealer in floral cups. He’s a retired Alaska Department of Fish and Game employee who got into collectibles through baseball card, toy and coin collections.
The sprawling shop he manages used to be a grocery and general store known as the Airport Road Store. It’s been an antique store for about 20 years and is made up of 12 separate display areas for each of the antique dealers who use space in the building. The historic building makes a good setting for vintage merchandise, but it’s also hard to heat in the winter. It sometimes closes on the coldest days of the winter, though not during the Christmas season, said Haynes, who wore a down vest as he walked around the store Tuesday morning.
Is Fairbanks a good place to be in the antique business?
If you’re using the definition of antiques as things older than 100 years, not so much, Haynes said. Few objects of that age make their way to Fairbanks and decidedly fewer than at most antique businesses in the Lower 48.
If you are considering newer items often categorized under the broader label of “collectibles,” Fairbanks is a good market, especially considering demand for items unique to Alaska, Haynes said.
“There is always a
demand locally,” he said. “People are looking for Alaska things that are old, related to the mining industry or the railroad or Fairbanks. There used to be some diaries in Fairbanks, and people want milk bottles. There are a wide variety of items that are of interest to people.”
Contact staff writer Sam Friedman at 459-7545.
What: Airport Road Store Antique Mall, 3206 Airport Way, Fairbanks
Built: in the 1950s and became an antique store in the early 1990s
Business advice (from store manager Terry Haynes): “If you’re a collector of antiques or collectives, buy things you like, not because you think they’re going to appreciate in value. Part of the appeal of antiques and collectives is things you enjoy. Not everything will appreciate over time.”