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The Antiques And Collectibles Market – Investing During A Recession

As we muddle through the first half of the year 2009, I have never seen anything like this. Never have I witnessed the fear and panic in investor’s eyes like I have in the past few months. I was thinking of spearheading a new organization–maybe calling it something like the Battered Investors Club or BIA, an acronym for Broke Investors Of America. The stock market has become nothing more than a roulette table, and retirement accounts such as 401K plans have separated the hard worker from half to almost all of the savings they have responsibly set aside for their retirement.

Do you believe in the politicians and financial “gurus” that assure us that the hundreds of billions of “stimulus” dollars that are being printed 24/7 and thrown around like confetti are going to fix this financial disaster that we are in? I don’t–I think it is going to get worse. Sure, you are going to see the stock market, real estate market, etc., rally for a little bit. The amount of money (read: our taxes, children’s , great grandchildren’s) that the government is handing out is bound to cause a blip on the screen for a short term, but then–lookout! The long term result of all this may remind one of something that happened in Rome’s history.

“SoWa” stands for “South of Washington (Street)” – a part of the South End once called “home” by an assortment of large mills and factories producing pianos, canned goods, shoes, and other items. By the 1950s, most of these businesses had moved out and artists moved in, carving studios, living space, and finally shops and galleries out of the mellow brick buildings. Many members from this flourishing arts community exhibit their creations at SoWa, which also features the work of other artisans throughout New England.

Every Sunday, a sea of white tents transforms the large parking lot on Harrison Ave in SoWa where the market takes place. Over 140 artisans and 50 antiques and collectibles vendors exhibit every week. Vendors and artisans change weekly, so you never know what you’re going to find. And when you find something that you love, you should buy it immediately since you never know if the artisan will be back the next week. (I learned this lesson the hard way.).

So what treasures will you find? Look for gorgeous one-of-a-kind handcrafted jewelry, stylish pocketbooks, lustrous hand-crafted furniture, plus many stunning sets of dishes and other pottery and ceramic pieces. One of my favorites is a local designer of greeting cards who uses a real hand-operated letterpress to print the beautiful designs. Another favorite is a tiny Boston company that silkscreens designs of local graphic artists by hand onto silky cotton t-shirts – I think of them as wearable art.

One of the best parts of this market is being able to talk directly to the artisan who made the product that you’re buying. If you want something slightly different, or perhaps additional pieces for gifts, you can usually make arrangements.

At the Antiques market, look for sets of delicate antique china, mid-century furniture, Art Deco objects, and vintage clothing. You’ll also find paintings, plus antique and collectible books.

A favorite corner of SoWa Open Market is the area where local farmers and artisan bakeries display their bounty. Juicy summer fruits and berries glisten like jewels. As the summer goes on, incredible heirloom tomatoes and fresh-picked corn begin to appear. You’ll also find mouth-watering local cheeses such as chevre and smoked mozzarella. Buy a nice selection of these irresistible goodies, and you won’t have to wonder what to have for dinner.

As investors, we all have taken some very hard hits over the past year. But it does not have to continue. You can stop the bleeding today in your investment situation. Place your money in tangible collectible investments and go back to sleeping at night.

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