AN antiques shop owner on Tyneside has closed down his store to take his business into cyberspace.
Ian Sharp, who has runs Ian Sharp Antiques shop on Tynemouth’s Front Street for 25 years, is closing the store to instead sell his wares over the internet.
He said: “When I started in 1988, Tynemouth was awash with antiques shops on Front Street and on Percy Park.
“There was Priory Antiques, David Strain Antiques, Renaissance Antiques, Caprice Antiques, Dorothy Wedge Antiques, and Captain’s Sea Chest.
“Most dealers these days who run a shop or who are regular fair attendees have websites.
“People like to sit and click and say, ‘I’ll have that’ without even handling or seeing an object in the flesh – and that is not just for antiques, it’s everything, it’s the instant ‘I want it now’ syndrome.”
Mr Sharp hopes his move to online selling will create time to find hidden gems and attend antiques fairs.
He started collecting at an early age gathering fossils and bottles from pit heaps that formed part of his family’s haulage business.
After leaving school and spending 10 years in the family trade he opened his shop.
He said: “I have a vivid memory of the first day – March 22, 1988 – my first sale was a child’s tea set made by Anthony Scott of Southwick. I sold it to another dealer for £25.
“On that first day I took £175 and have kept records of every single sale.”
In 1997, Mr Sharp first entered the world of online trading.
He said: “The thing I’ll miss most of all is the people. People have been buying from me for 25 years and they become friends.
“They come in and tell me their life story, their history and secrets they wouldn’t tell others – I think it’s the environment.
“People tend not to come into antique shops any more, but I’ll continue selling until my dying day.”
Sarah Percy-Davis, chief executive of the Association of Art and Antique Dealers, said: “Most antiques dealers now use the internet, have their own sites, and a great number sell stock online.
“The rising cost of maintaining a high street shop in a village, town or city, despite trading conditions being difficult, has undoubtedly led to the closure of small, independent businesses, including some antiques shops across the UK.
“However, a large number of antiques shops are still going strong, and they find ways to attract new customers – some have invited other dealers to share retail space, thus spreading the costs of marketing and managing a shop.”