Editorial – September/October/November/December 2020

Well, where on earth do I begin?  Here it is, the 25th anniversary of the Wayback Times, and who knew it would take place during a pandemic?  A lot has happened since our last issue…(the spring issue), which met a few roadblocks after being published in late March.  It was delivered to most of our usual locations, but the timing was certainly not within the norm when everything shut down after the issue was printed.  After surveying our advertisers in May via email, the general consensus was that we should skip printing a summer issue and move on to fall. So here we are with a 4-month fall edition,  after missing an issue for the first time ever in the WT’s 25 year history.  

It’s no news to anyone that Covid-19 has taken a terrible toll on everyone, especially where there has been the ultimate loss – the loss of life.  And as we all known only too well, C-19 has had the “domino effect” as it’s worked its way through our personal lives right into our pocketbooks. Like most retail, antique and collectible shops, malls and markets suffered terrible economic loss during the time they were closed… and it’s been even worse for the show promoters who make a living by providing events to showcase the wares of the many, many vendors who participate in them.  As data poured out from our many news sources, the optimism that the many shows that take place in Ontario might be postponed for a month or two turned to huge disappointment as we all realized that in order to protect others and ourselves, events of their nature simply couldn’t take place in most cases – with the exception of a few  Covid-19 compliant  outdoor events.  So, while retail businesses reopened gradually, the many events planned for 2020 will likely not take place this year. *

As the lockdown was slowly and cautiously lifted, it was pretty obvious that most businesses were willing to do whatever was necessary to get their doors re-opened.  With precautions in place and a semi-reinvention of themselves (ie: online auctions, curb-side pick-up and offerings in assorted social media venues) it was remarkable to see how resilient the people in this industry are.  I never had a doubt they were, I just  hadn’t witnessed it first-hand before. Nothing like a pandemic to bring out the strength in people.

I’m hearing really great things from many businesses, and although it’s a bit early to determine exactly how this has affected buying patterns, I get the distinct feeling that a lot of people have gained an appreciation for the quality and beauty (from across the eras) of antique and vintage pieces. Is this because so many of us had more time to consider what they would like brought in to enhance their freshly purged and re-decorated homes? It’s hard to say, and yet a resurgence of interest seems to be there – and right across the generations.

After a quarter century of being published, the Wayback Times has seen trends come and go,  and sometimes shops and events come and go with them.  It hasn’t always made sense (and I’m not a spread sheet person…) , but things like reproductions have been responsible partly for the shifts in interest – and the change of the guard; different generations rarely hold dear the same preferences, especially true now with the onslaught of information coming directly to us from so many media sources.

I’ve had the WT since 2006 when I took it over from Jay Telfer who started it from scratch in 1995, which, coincidentally, was the same year Peter and I opened our own antique shop and started doing shows.   (We were considered “youngsters” by most of the dealers at the time! Those were the good old days!) 

We met Jay when he attended antique shows with his Wayback Times in hand and his salesman’s pitch prepared for anyone who would listen.  Being the extremely likeable person he was, it was easy to agree to an advertisement for our new business and were very pleased with the results.  That was one of the reasons  factored into buying the business from him in 2006, when his deteriorating health (from a longstanding illness) had taken a turn for the worse.  As well, Jay had done all the groundwork (and legwork) making the WT  a successful publication in its own right. I don’t think I could ever accomplish something of that nature from the get-go. I’m not much of a salesperson!

I confess that all those deadlines – six times a year (until 2018 when we went quarterly)  – had me a bit worried, especially the ones that would take place at special times like Christmas. And the delivery process… all those miles in all kinds of weather – another thing I’m not much of is a driver. (I drive our lawn tractor more than our truck!) Fortunately, there was help to be found. Jay’s driver, Leo (remember loveable Leo – he’s still loveable!) planned to stay on, and my husband, Peter, was going to pick up the bulk of the route. Between the two of them,  they would cover about 5,000 km per issue to deliver bundles – and that wasn’t counting trips to take papers to shows. (Although Leo was later unable to help us, his son-in-law, Kim, took over the route for a number of years, and we are now grateful to have Ken Feakins at the wheel helping – but the distance  Ken and Peter covers is still about the same and it takes about a week – weather permitting – to get the job done.)

Learning how to publish a paper in middle age required parts of my brain to be rudely awakened, and trust me, it wasn’t happy to be called up for work – not entirely new work, anyway.  Jay was an interesting tutor who had a lot of what we learned to call “Jay-isms” with great admiration for his creativity, but also with some questions as to how he arrived at some conclusions, but they worked for him and that was all that mattered.  When invited to continue to be a part of the WT as a contributor, he was quite happy about that.  “Jay’s Blog” was introduced to the paper and was a part of it until his untimely death in May, 2009.   (Please see John Cosway’s article, page 4 .)

Sometimes, when you’re very close to something, you need to step back to see how different it is if you’ve been wrapped up in it for a while. This holds true for the WT.  While deciding how to illustrate the fact that it’s the 25th anniversary on the front cover I ended up going through box after box of previous issues and had the intention of laying out a conglomeration of 25 small images – 1 paper from each year.  As you can see, I ran out of time to accomplish that, but in the process of looking them over, it’s clear to see that the paper has changed over the years.  I guess it’s sort of aged, along with me, and taken on a variety of topics that might not have been suitable 25 years ago.  I hope the changes are good changes overall and that our advertisers and readers are pleased with what they find when they pick up a copy.  I must confess that when I’m told by someone that they read the paper cover to cover, including each and every ad, I am just thrilled.  That makes it all worthwhile!  

And speaking of “cover to cover,” you might notice this issue has less pages than usual.  There is a reason for that… first of all, it is missing the full page Events Calendar, which typically shows the many events advertised, and that of course, is because most of the events are cancelled.  Not all, but most*. The shows comprise a large portion of the advertising in the WT, so it’s really affected the number of pages that are usually printed.  There are also some storefront businesses that are cautiously waiting to see where things are headed as summer winds down and we get into the autumn months… and who can blame them?  I do urge our readers to continue to support all of their favourite locations and maybe take on a few new ones.  I’m seeing a lot of businesses  who have altered their hours, some of them for the first time in years (even decades!) so it would be wise to call ahead or visit them online to make sure they’re open on the day you plan to visit… I find that Facebook is usually a good place to see updated info and make inquiries. Businesses are more connected to social media than ever before, thanks, in part, to C-19. 

There is so much to say about the past five months and what it’s been like living in an altered environment with the virus at large. When we were ordered into pretty much an all-out lockdown, it became very apparent that the experience was hugely different for everyone. For Peter (my husband) and I, personally, there’s been very little hardship during the time of lock-down. We live in a rural area and can get outside whenever we want.  There was a slight “panic” when we couldn’t get our 10-year old dog’s usual kibble from Costco. (We have since discovered that he can, indeed, eat other brands, with no ill effect.) There were other things we couldn’t get, as well, but good old Amazon filled in some gaps for us and we had everything we needed and then some.  We missed our little granddaughter terribly, who was not quite two in the spring,  but were able to do a couple of “through the glass” get-togethers and little videos, so she wouldn’t forget who we were. We’re now part of her family “bubble” and have provided some daycare while her parents are working. Our daughter-in-law, Zoe, is a front-line worker at a hospital, a lab technologist – we are so grateful to her for her work and the risks she and so many others like her take on a daily basis while providing us with care and helping us get through this pandemic… you can imagine our concern for her especially when there was a shortage of PPE (personal protective equipment) in the early stages of C-19. 

Back when this all began, I was optimistic about finally getting some redecorating accomplished in this old house, our home for almost 26 years.  Somehow that idea didn’t come to fruition, but instead… and I’m not sure when, why or how this decision took place – we found ourselves renting a dumpster to clean out our spacious “nightmare” attic and taking out years of accumulated  junk (most of it our son’s, I might add…) and masses of  pathetic R-10 insulation. This, of course, took place at the end of July when it was nice and hot and when the very last place you want to be is in an attic (under a black roof), handling decades-old filthy fibre-glass batting. The plan is to create a room with a great view up there – hopefully that will happen soon so we’re not living in an uninsulated 108 year old house heated by propane – yikes. Perish the thought…

Life has taken on a pattern. There’s a lot more cleaning going on, on a daily basis. The new norm is to head out with masks, sanitizer, glasses (yes, they fog up for us, too) and the expectation that we’ll have to line up pretty much  wherever we’re going.  And it’s okay.  I’m not looking forward to the cold and/or wet line-ups as we get into fall and winter, but we’ll survive and when this is all said and done, we’ll be better people for the experience. We take so much for granted, not just the “stuff” we use every day, but our health and even other people.  I hope and pray that this permanently alters our attitudes to become more considerate of others, and appreciative of all we have.

I sincerely wish all of our advertisers, past and present, all the very best in their re-opening endeavours.  And for our show promoters, we are all longing to see your events return and thrive. We are thrilled to see that many of you have taken to offering “virtual” shows and hope for great success for all of you.   (See ad to right – page 3 – for the Gadsden’s Antique Shows Canada new virtual online shows, and also look for online auctions, like Pridham’s, pg 21 and Brooks & Palen, pg 24)

So, here I am with some serious thanking to do… thanks to John Cosway who returned with a special article (page 4, of course) to help celebrate this issue and to all the writers who offer such wonderful content on a regular basis (please see page 22). Thank you to our readers, and thank you to our advertisers.  You are the ones who make this publication possible. Without you, there would be no Wayback Times.

For me, it’s been 14 years of learning and deadlines, sometimes heaven and sometimes headaches, layout and invoicing, emails and phone calls – and an ongoing relationship with technology that has its definite ups and downs. The very best part has been the people I’ve met, all with a passion for this crazy business of antiques and collectibles. (When I took on the WT, “vintage” and “nostalgia” were just starting to stake their claim in the market.)

And now, something I’ve never done before… *

here is our current Events Calendar for Fall 2020

September 19 – Aberfoyle (see ad to right, page 3)

September 26 – Collins Bay (see ad, page 20)

We know both shows are dealing with huge challenges and thank the promoters for forging on. Good luck! We sure miss everyone’s shows.

It’s been about a year since I came to the conclusion that it’s time for me to move on and hand the reigns over to someone else… in other words, the Wayback Times is officially (as of the printing of this issue) up for sale.  I’m going the same route as Jay did back in 2006 …  offering it here, right in the editorial. I’m open to serious inquiries only and strongly advise that anyone interested should be familiar with publishing, editing, layout, photo editing, deadlines, sales,  driving – and antiques, of course! 

Pertinent information will only be divulged after it’s been confirmed that a request is being made in a confidential and intentional manner. This is a wonderful business, full of possibilities and opportunities – and it just might be the perfect occupation for you!  If you feel that this is a venture you would like to take on and – who knows – maybe run for another 25 years, please email me at:waybacktimes@xplornet.com or call 705 696-1833  but AFTER SEPTEMBER 7th, please.

Thanks for reading, take good care, stay well, be safe – and, most importantly, God bless.

PS. I wonder what you would have thought of the masked selfie in the heading above if I’d added it to the editorial a year ago. Things can sure change quickly. 

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