Nestled firmly in the beating heart of Oxford’s High Street one of the country’s leading antiques centres has ploughed its way through the drama of the last two years and along with its sister companies in Sidmouth, Devon and Bowness on Windermere in the Lake district is now the countries largest high street antiques retailer.
Formed back in 1997 the company’s formation was the inevitable fall out from the closure of the original Jam Factory antiques centre. Word of its opening quickly reverberated through the Antiques trade, and it attracted numerous high-profile antique dealers into its ranks with many of them often supplying stage and screen with authentic period pieces and being the “go to” source for information for various television companies.
Still housed in the well-known high street store, their ability to trade successfully has been steadily increased over the years. The advent of various television programs such as the BBC’s popular Antiques road trip has seen many a TV expert feature regularly in countless episodes of the series which has only served to raise the profile of the store as its keen participation in filming continues. The most recent filming being that of the celebrity version of the program featuring former model Jerry Hall.
Many may recall the potential and well-publicized closure of the store back in 2017 as the then current lease came to an end and with the owner wanting to retire, it seemed likely the fate of the store was sealed.
Having received a message on a Saturday evening via twitter from the Antiques Trade Gazette about the imminent closure, a Bournemouth based businessman and his partner stepped in to save the store from its fate, essentially buying the business from a message via twitter, clearly demonstrating how times have changed and how the internet can influence such matters.
Despite the geographical hurdles they faced, the pair worked relentlessly on revamping the rather tired premises, injecting a fresh impetus into the popular high street venue, attracting new dealers and customers alike adding to their already extensive stock lines. Complementing the established stock lines which the store is so well known for, vintage Kimonos, cameras and tribal artefacts, furniture, children’s books now take up floor space.
With the internet being firmly harnessed to promote the business, the social media accounts are updated on a daily basis which plays a key role in the companies marketing although when it comes to buying antiques most people want to see, it feel it, touch it, understand it and this means doing the good old fashioned thing of getting out and shopping in person, which despite rumors is still a very popular activity.
With this in mind, Antiques on High in Sidmouth Devon opened in December 2018 and provided a valuable backdrop to the Oxford store with stock shifting between the two locations. Embracing modern technology where it’s needed most the ability to demonstrate stock via live camera feeds before the customer makes a decision has proved rather invaluable if not a little unique. Establishing itself in the gloriously popular regency seaside town was a quick process and brought in a fresh plethora of dealers from the local area several of whom have now provided stock for their Oxford counterpart.
With the third store beckoning, yet another wonderful location was earmarked as Antiques on High opened its third store in Bowness on Windermere on the 1st of May this year. With visitors descending on the enormously popular Lake district location in their droves from around the UK, strategy of running the store has been the only hurdle to over-come.