When buying something, it’s always best to see it in person.
According to Ron Greenwald, owner of Greenwald Antiques in Beachwood; Carrie Pinney, business manager at Cowan’s Auctions in Warrensville Heights; and Michael Wolf, director of Wolf’s Gallery in Cleveland; both parties can benefit from dealing antiques locally.
“While the internet has become global and so convenient and images are just sort of proliferating everywhere, nothing replaces an onsite inspection,” Wolf said. “The idea of shopping locally, if there are worthwhile places to shop, and Cleveland certainly has some, then it would behoof anyone who is a potential buyer to go take a look in person. This way, you can avoid disappointment.”
Wolf added viewing an item in person can also change one’s opinion of it because a photo can’t show everything.
Greenwald said buyers can find more affordable prices when shopping locally, especially when comparing the Cleveland market to places like New York and California.
“The quality is the same and realistically, it just makes more sense,” he said. “If you can find what you’re looking for locally, you won’t have to worry about shipping or condition issues. It’s helpful to see things first hand and not have to deal with those quality issues.”
Pinney added, “From our point of view, when you’re buying things locally from us you’re buying from the community. You’re helping your neighbors and you’re contributing to the local economy.”
Local antique stores and galleries offer a face-to-face component that online or an out-of-state business can’t.
“We have people that buy from us all over the world, but it’s nice if you are local and able to come in,” Pinney stated. “We can talk with you
face-to-face about the history of the piece. People like to know. Sometimes things have interesting stories. And if you can get that information from someone locally, you have a unique piece of that story.”
Wolf said shopping locally lends to more unique finds.
“Every region of the country tends to have different art and antiques that reflect that region,” he said. “We’ve been blessed in Cleveland by the fact that at the turn of the last century, many artists came to Cleveland because of the huge printing and lithography industry here. They left a terrific legacy, which is why Cleveland is especially rich with artwork and pieces from that period. So, in other words, find out what the assets are for your region and take advantage of it.”
Connecting with buyers and sellers locally starts with community engagement. The professionals said their businesses start by advertising locally.
“We also like building relationships,” Greenwald noted. “It’s a bit more personal that way. That’s why we’re still around and we think our customers appreciate that a lot. And putting money into something of quality and within your community has merit.”
Pinney added, “This lets people know that this is an option locally and that they don’t have to go out or online. You can get beautiful and unique pieces here in Cleveland.”
Wolf added local advertising is a good addition to Cleveland’s already strong art community.
“We put it out there what we’re dealing in and local collectors will clearly take a look-see in their own neighborhood,” he said. “There is a good collector’s base here. This is a good arts community and it always has been. We’ve been blessed with many people with a strong interest in the arts.”