Oklahomas Youth Loves Vintage Stuff, but Hates Antiques
I had the weirdest conversation this morning with a friend that hit close to home. The topic was on the lines of how antiques and old stuff were made with amazing quality and craftsmanship, and how young people these days have little to no interest in them.
A little backstory, my buddy goes to a lot of auctions. We're both millennials so there's not an age joke to be made here, just a weird observation about people like us under the age of +/-40. Even though young people attend, a lot of high-quality stuff goes unsold because the common belief is "new stuff is always better."
I'm going to admit this to you now... just talking about this makes me feel a million years old, but I don't get why young people like the cheaply made and disposable new stuff over perfectly functioning much higher-quality old stuff.
When my grandparents died, my parents asked me to show up and help them clean out their old house in order to sell it. Since I live closer than anyone else, I couldn't say no... but to my surprise, cousins showed up from all over.
As we walked into the house to see how we could help, there was a flurry of activity going on. I assumed they were at the family farm to help pack all the stuff up, but it was more like watching a flock of vultures flying from room to room to feast on whatever they could get their hands on for themselves.
The TVs and newer trinkets were the first to go followed by the valuable antiques. They snatched up what little jewelry grandma had and the handful of watches grandpa collected. The tools disappeared pretty quickly out in the barn too. Someone even decided to take a tractor. It's still missing even though everyone knows who stole it... it's become one of those family taboo secrets that nobody talks about.
It was quite a sight to see.
After everyone had snatched up all they wanted, there was still so much stuff left. After almost fifty years in one house, every nook and cranny was packed. As we started the clean-up effort, I was sent to the kitchen to start boxing up stuff. To my surprise, nobody bothered to go through the cabinets.
With so much stuff to pack up, my aunt walked in and said "You just bought a house, you need kitchen stuff. Let's pack you up some of this stuff." Since there's no arguing with your favorite aunty, I begrudgingly brought home a box of utensils and cookware. As luck would have it, all of that old antique kitchen stuff is so perfectly made, I have no doubt my nephews will be using them long after I'm dead.
Seriously, the greatest spatula for flipping eggs is 70-ish years old, was and is still used on a daily basis, and some people will never know about it. They're on eBay, here's a link. Literally the best spatula ever, but this story is more than just kitchenware, it's literally everything.
Old furniture > new furniture.
I bought a pretty expensive La Z Boy recliner a few years ago. Soft and supple leather, heavy duty for my big frame, and it lasted just under a year before it broke. Since I'm a (cheap) handy guy, I decided to try to fix it myself. When I turned it over, it was put together with the cheapest substrate underlayment OSB panels and wood glue. Not a bit of plywood or real wood in the structure.
My other grandma still has the rocker chairs and sofa in her living room that they probably bought in the 1950s. They weigh a ton even though they're small, but weight is usually a sign of quality.
I'd bet you can probably remember your grandparents being the same way... They bought a couch in the mid-20th century and it's still the couch you sit on when you visit. You know why that is?
They just don't make stuff like they used to.
Case and point, you could walk into any furniture store in America and buy the best they have to offer. Even high-end furniture will offer a warranty of sorts, but you know as well as I do three years down the road and that couch will be on its last legs. Beaten down, stretched out, holes where you always sit... expensive garbage.
All the same, while they did take a fresh coat of paint and new fabric coverings, the surplus theater seats I bought from The Vaska are still comfortable for everyone that sits in them. I couldn't even begin to imagine how old they are. I would assume they're from the 1950s, but the art deco designs scream 1930s.
As consumer goods continue to get both more expensive and cheaper in quality, I'd like to remind you that all the good quality stuff has already been made. You just have to find it.
It sucks that antique stores are becoming a thing of the past, but the auction business is still thriving in rural America. You might show up at one of those while you can still get the good stuff for pennies on the dollar. Trust me, the older the better.