Matthew Keenan

Antiquing? Get your storage unit first, KC Star column, Nov 2015

by on Nov.26, 2015, under Kansas City Star columns

Someone once declared that diamonds are a woman’s best friend. That man never drove his wife past an antique store advertising vintage sterling candlesticks and heard her shriek “stop!” The truth is that there is an empty space in every woman’s heart. And sooner or later it will be filled with an English pine armoire.

Women love antiques. That’s not an opinion. I’m talking sterling silver place settings, tea cups, porcelain teapots and anything made in England. I could list more “must haves” antiquities but this column has a word limit. There is a reason why Ebay shows 2.7 million antiques on sale. And that doesn’t count the priceless goods offered on specialty websites like Pinterest,,, and some sites where experts confirm the authenticity of the items sold, like The New York Times recently wrote that these sites are red hot.

Most antiques have three things in common. 1) No matter how valuable they are, someone wants to part with them. Go figure. 2) Antiques are never priced at retail. They are always 20 percent reduced and when purchased with cash, you get another 10 percent off. And if you have a dolly to move it in five minutes, you save another 10 percent. 3) They have immediate utility but first need to be stored in Belton.

Guys, I’m going to give you a tutorial on how to cope with this reality.

First, when your wife says she is going “antiquing,” drop the remote, get off the couch and join her in the car. I’d recommend you bring some reading material. “War and Peace” might keep you occupied long enough. Because when it comes to these kinds of topics with your wife, they fall into two categories. Those you fight and lose. And those you don’t even bother fighting. Hang on. It’s going to be a long day.

Second, when the shop she enters boasts antique furniture, pray the store doesn’t have a grandfather clock. I’ve seen those. I’ve lifted those. Just ask my chiropractor. Every grandfather clock can only tell time correctly twice each day. And once you understand how terrible your day can actually be, you might suddenly support that $75 19th-century Chippendale cat and dog salt and pepper shakers.

Third, don’t confuse antiques with collectibles. The former are priceless and require talent to evaluate, scrutinize and determine their true value. The latter share none of these qualities. That’s why your wife never collected Beanie Babies or Longaberger baskets. Sure, at one time she owned a Pet Rock. That was a long time ago. Don’t mention it. And also avoid discussing your sister in-law’s Cabbage Patch collection in Branson. If you go there, have a good divorce attorney on speed dial.

Fourth, there are other topics you cannot touch, like the third rail in politics. For instance, do not bring up your baseball card collection that disappeared one time when you were fishing with your old college roommate. Likewise, when your wife is closely examining a marble male bust of Mark Twain, do not abruptly say: “Whatever happened to my Sports Illustrated swimsuit collection?” You just ruined the moment. Plus, your wife sold those magazines at a garage sale while you were on that golfing trip last year. The buyer then promptly made a killing reselling them.

Fifth, this is your fault. You wasted money on Chiefs season tickets and fantasy football teams that consume twelve hours every Sunday. Still confused? Remember that large tab you ran up at Buffalo Wild Wings watching soccer teams from Spain? Did you forget about that pay-per-view bill for a boxing match no one watched? Except you. And then you lost your new iPhone on that “business trip” to Las Vegas. So pipe down. Or else your next stop will be Cordell & Cordell.

But the universe of antiquing often includes women who go from collecting antiquities to selling them. Question: “Do you know how to make a million dollars selling antiques?” Answer: “Start with two million.” I’m there.

This means I’ve been spending considerable time at the Mission Road Antique Mall at 83rd and Mission in Prairie Village. This business has some 300 dealers, each with separate shops but there is one in particular that stands out. It’s called Front Porch — ask around and you will find it. This booth has priceless collectibles that are on their way to “Antiques Roadshow.” Maybe you saw the guy on A.R. who had Chinese rhinoceros horn cups suddenly found to be worth $1 million to $1.5 million.

This booth features those. Cups I mean. It has books too. Not just any books. I mean books authored by columnists for the 913 section of The Kansas City Star. But wait, there’s more. There also timeless furnishings, decorative accessories, jewelry, lamps, light fixtures, pottery and seasonal decorations. Do you like silver-plated silverware, vintage Christmas decor and priceless furniture imported from exotic locations? Bingo. And, I know this will shock you, but everything is on sale.

Stop by on a Saturday and you’ll see an army of supportive spouses biding their time, like me. I’ll be reading “War and Peace.”


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