Editorial – You’re Never Too Old by Lynne Dokurno

“You are never too old to learn more than you already know and to become able to do more than you already can.”

— Isaac Asimov

Love what you do and do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.   Well, here I am, officially classified as a senior citizen and I’m working harder than I ever have!  But I do love what I do, and I am doing what I love.  Being in the antique business creates the opportunity to meet great people and to learn something new every day.  When I sat down to start my annual summer editorial, I wanted to write about something I love about being in the antique business.  I very quickly realized that I couldn’t just pick one thing.  Each one seems to be entwined with the others!  I love running my own business and have been self-employed for decades.  At one time my daughter stated that she was sure my favourite hobby was buying/starting/running a new business.  She was only half joking!  And I’ve chosen businesses that highlight a couple other favourite things – super amazing people and the chance to learn something new every day.  And each of those goes hand in hand with the other.  I’ve had collectors that look like they are still in grade school come in and teach me about their collections.  Nothing puts a smile on my face quicker than a passionate teenager telling me all about Zippo lighters or a pre-teen explaining the differences between WW1 and WW2 helmets. 

Taking on Antiques on 48 5 years ago was an incredible learning experience.  I was lucky as a teenager and worked as a teller in a bank.  I didn’t have the retail experience most teens get with their first jobs.  No fast food restaurants or department stores for me!  The closest I ever got to retail was as the office manager in a large retail store – I did work cash on occasions, but only for short periods of time.  It was not until taking over at Antiques on 48 that I began to work full days, and full weeks in retail.  But again, I was very lucky.  First, the vendors that came with the store (almost all still with me) are amazing.  They were quick to share their knowledge and expertise with a greenhorn like me.   I have learned so much from them and now they come to me to ask my advice.  I know I will never learn all there is to learn but it sure is fun trying.  Next, some truly awesome staff.   Most of my staff have now become vendors as they are so passionate about what we do.  I’ve had summer students that have come back year after year and have taught me so much.  We’ve had one history student that came back each summer throughout university who I believe knows more about antiques and history than any other person I’ve met!  Sadly, she won’t be back this year.  She is graduating and doing an internship at a museum before looking for full time work.  Unfortunately, it seems that you can’t chain people behind the cash desk to keep them from leaving but as her family is local, I know she’ll pop back in when she can, and continue teaching me even more. 

The customers that come into the store are like none other.  We have a theory that anyone who comes antiquing must be a happy person.  Whether it’s a long line up at cash, or waiting for a display case to get unlocked, no one is impatient, and everyone is happy to wait and chat.  And that’s the best part – the chat.  I have learned so much from customers who are willing to share their stories and their passions.  I have learned what life was like all around the world and for many different eras in time.  From farms in the prairies to far off places after a world war, customers have shared their experiences and their knowledge.  Who knew that doohickey was used in the 1950’s for that purpose?  Now I do!  Whether it’s from another dealer, a collector, or just someone who knows stuff, I learn something new every day.

Just two years ago, John and I took the plunge to buy The Wayback Times with no publishing or graphics experience at all!  Once again, it’s the people that make the difference.  Sandy (the previous publisher and co-owner of Meadow Creek Barns Antiques and Neat Stuff) was amazing and taught us a lot and from there, we journeyed off on our own!  I have learned how to design ads, layout a newspaper, and so much more.  Our writers submit great articles that are not only entertaining but also very formative – another great source of learning.  Our advertisers are also great teachers, though they may not realize it.  John looks after the deliveries and does most of Eastern Ontario himself, but every now and then, Lizz and I take a bunch and do a delivery run (nice weather only) to check out what’s new in the world of antiques.  Talking to other store owners, managers and staff makes it an adventure to remember.  Each one has tales to tell and knowledge to share.  I’ve had some fun with the What Is It? feature in The Wayback Times and we’re now adding a Did You Know section when we have the space.  There are so many interesting and elusive tidbits of knowledge that have been hidden in history and when you’re in the business of antiques, you get access to a lot of resources that can teach you so much.  Of course, not all of it is true – hangover does not come from drunken sailors “hanging over” ropes to sleep but it sure is fun to figure out where it does actually come from! 

No matter your age, there is always something more you can learn.  And the most important thing I’ve learned is that people are the best source of knowledge.  I’d rather chat with a customer than do an internet search to learn how slag glass was made.  It’s far more entertaining and you will probably learn more than you expected!  Remember, you’re never too old to learn.

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