Stories from intrepid reporters attending the Illinois Press Foundation Journalism Workshop at Eastern Illinois University
Cindy Rodmaker may sell an outdated wooden butter churner and an old chicken crate coffee table, but the engine of her business is something fairly new: her HTC Droid.
As the new owner of Prairie Wind, one of multiple antique shops in small town Arcola, Rodmaker uses media and expected crazes to connect to an audience that normally wants it all, from the latest version of everything to aged valuables.
“We’re trying different things,” said Rodmaker. “A trend now is ‘upcycle.’” She refers to “upcycling” as a term that describes making an antique fit a different look for a generation it would not traditionally attract. She recently upcycled a wooden table by painting it a vibrant orange since the younger generation is into more of a retro style with bright colors, she said. Rodmaker is no amateur when it comes to antiques; she has been in this business for 35 years. Instead of owning her own shop, she initially sold items across the Midwest to various flea markets as more of a hobby. “Within the past 5-7 years we weren’t doing so well,” she said. She noted that there had been a decline in attendance at the flea markets, for example. Instead of being discouraged and seeing her hobby as a lost cause, she quit her day job in consumer service to adapt to the situation. Rodmaker now uses a Facebook page and is in the process of making a website to promote the store. She mainly posts pictures of new items that come in or announcements on festivals that will take place in downtown Arcola. “When we first started out we were doing shows and there wasn’t a need for advertising,” said Rodmaker. “We just went where there were people.” She said there will always be a need for antiques shops because people value the tradition various items bring — it’s just a matter of getting the word out there.