Antique TV Shows - Are They Good Or Bad For The Trade?

Discussion News


Ahoy there, welcome once again to 'Blog Post Monday'.  I hope you're all keeping well.

Now, I don't know about you, but I do love a good antiques TV show.  From 'Bargain Hunt' to 'Antiques Road Trip', to 'Salvage Hunters' and 'The Bidding Room', I enjoy watching them all.  But having worked in the trade for a while, I have noticed a regular occurrence.  Customers use these TV shows as part of their negotiation techniques, as if they are supposed to lend weight to the discounts they receive, and it proper winds me up!

It got me thinking... Whilst I absolutely adore these TV shows, overall, do we think they have a positive or negative impact on the trade?  I need to be careful what I say here because I have interviewed a fair few legends from said shows, but it is an interesting quandary.  This is the subject of today's blog post and I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.

So, as always, get that kettle on, pause this afternoon's episode of [enter favourite antiques show here] and let's discuss the pros and cons of having so many antique TV shows...



As a collector, a dealer and someone who has worked in an antiques centre for a number of years, this particular subject has been a thorn in my side the whole time.  I'm sure we've all experienced a customer who has dropped the 'B' word into the conversation when wanting a deal on an item.  I've lost count of how many customers I've served who have started a negotiation with the line "I watch Bargain Hunt, I know how it works" or "I expect the same discounts as you give those on TV".  I've mentioned this subject a few times in some of my previous posts and if anything, I find it's getting worse.



It's obvious that people love these shows as much as I do, however, many seem to think that what they see on the screen is reality, when quite often, it's not the case.  Some things are scripted and some things are agreed off camera, such as the level of discounts.  What is extremely important for people to understand is that the significant discounts that are given are in return for the significant promotion a business will receive by its shop being featured on a show that is watched by millions of viewers worldwide.  It makes sense when you think about it.



Conversely, you have what I like to call, "the Pritchard effect".  So, in this case, you have people who demand a premium for an item because they've seen it on TV.  I've seen people attaching photos to an item they're selling, declaring "As Seen On Salvage Hunters", along with the big price that Drew sold it for.  I've seen this happening at car boot sales in the North.  Obviously, an item is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it and in Drew's case, he's one of the top architectural antiques dealers in the country and as such, is very well connected with a lot of big London based contacts, who, in turn, have very big wallets.  He know's he'll get a big price and, of course, his name is attached to it which adds extra value.  Unfortunately, it's unrealistic that ol' Barry at Rufforth car boot sale will achieve the same price...



So, I guess these TV shows do, to some extent, have a negative impact on the trade, in the sense that it heightens people's expectations.  They believe they're entitled to get something for nothing, but on the other hand, charge a premium themselves for items they're selling, because they've seen it on TV.



On the flip side, however, these TV shows are doing an incredible job of promoting antique shops, fairs and auctions around the country.  Certainly, in the cases of 'Antiques Road Trip', 'Bargain Hunt' and 'Salvage Hunters'.  Furthermore, they're getting more and more people interested in antiques.  People are realising the value of buying antique pieces, over new, and how much fun can be had searching for these items.



Certainly, in the case of 'The Bidding Room' and 'Antiques Roadshow', people love to learn about items they've inherited or have had in their possession for many years.  It's helping to educate viewers about the value of antiques and what's around them, and slowly slowly they begin to look at things in a different light.  These shows make antiques more approachable and accessible to everyone.  I mean, I won't lie, there is the odd pompous show, however, those aside, making antiques accessible to more people is only going to have a positive effect on the trade.



So, there you have it.  A few pros and cons of having so many antiques TV shows.  Are they good for the trade?  I guess, my conclusion is, yes, they are.  Anything that makes antiques more accessible, while promoting small businesses around the country, has to be a positive thing.  I guess I can just live with people's heightened expectations, but for gawds sake, please stop using these shows as a bargaining tool!  *puts head in hands*




Well, that's it for this week folks.  I hope you've enjoyed this little discussion.  Please let me know your take on it all in the comments section below, particularly, if you've first hand experience of any of the shows!

Remember, if you enjoy my posts, please show your support by subscribing to my 'Source Social' membership, which you can do via the 'Home' page.  It's free and gives you a weekly blog post and a fortnightly YouTube video delivered directly to your inbox, as well as exclusive discounts and first dibs on new items before they are added to our website.

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So, until next week, stay safe, keep buying those antiques and keep spreading that Source Vintage love!




Owner Source Vintage

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  • Geoff: Owner Of Belgravia Lane (antiques) on

    Interesting comments which as dealers we have all considered their significance- if any
    On the plus side all the shows develop greater public interest of antiques & collecting generally
    On the minus side they give a very false impression of value & discounts in the real world of being a dealer

    On this basis surely the “ shows” must be seen for what they are; entertainment!!

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