What’s better than a one-day sale? How about the same sale at ten related shops?
That was the thinking behind Corning’s annual Great Market Street Antique, Collectible & Vintage Sale. The larger-than-ever event, scheduled this year for 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. February 22, is expected to draw hundreds of shoppers to the city’s main shopping strip. Nine businesses, operating out of ten storefronts, are participating in the sale.
“It’s pretty much everybody who deals in antiques, collectibles, and vintage on Market Street,” said dealer Tom Mancuso, who has organized the sale every year since 2007.
Mancuso said the timing of the event is just right for both sellers and shoppers, coming as it does every year on the final weekend of the last full month of winter.
“It’s a nice day on Market Street for folks. You get out of the house. You’ve been in all winter. You come down and you take advantage of the pricing that we offer that day only,” said Mancuso. He owns Market Street Antiques and Collectibles, which he operates out of both 94 and 98 East Market Street.
Mancuso, who celebrated twenty years in business last June, opened one of the stores in 1993 and the other, just two doors down, in 1998. A former production worker for Corning Inc. for twenty-two years, he’s now a substitute teacher’s aide in special education for the Corning-Painted Post School District and the Greater Southern Tier BOCES.
Mancuso’s antiques and collectibles business features items from twenty-five to forty vendors at any given time. The street-wide sale grew out of his own two-store discount day.
“I used to conduct a sale independently,” he said. “When I opened in 1993 we were the only [similar] shop on the street at the time; there were many shops before us. As more and more shops opened, I thought it would be more powerful if we could together have a one-day sale where we mark things down to the point where we just want them to leave the shop.”
Its success ranks with the best retail events in the city, Mancuso said. “It’s probably as good as any event on the street—a Sparkle, a Black Friday. We do that well.”
Coleen Fabrizi, executive director of Corning’s Gaffer District, said the one-day sale is a “wonderful thing” for downtown.
“It happens on the last Saturday in February every year, so it’s something you can set your calendar by,” Fabrizi said. “And collectors from throughout the region and beyond do just that. It draws hundreds of people to town for shopping.”
Mancuso said of the sale’s effect on the district: “When you have ten shops, [customers] have to spend some time. That means you’ve got to have lunch, maybe you stay overnight, you know. The whole street benefits from the sale.”
This is a slow period in the antiques and collectibles market, but at the same time dealers are itching to turn over inventory with an eye toward a fresh look for spring. That’s a good combination for customers.
“One thing about antique dealers is that more than selling they enjoy buying, and to do that they really need the money,” Mancuso said. “About this time of year, they’re really going to be looking for some capital to go out and spend at auctions, estate sales, and rummage sales. So for the consumer, the buying public, it’s an opportunity for them to get some great deals.”
He said dealers will mark down prices on many items, some of them significantly.
“I practically give a few items away,” he said. “I’ll mark down a fifty dollar item to ten bucks just so people can go home and say, ‘Look what I got at that sale.’ I’ve just got so much inventory right now I really want to clean things out of here.”
Shoppers who buy at least one item from any of the nine dealers will receive a coupon good for 10 percent off the price of any item at any other participating store.
“People have fun with that,” said Mancuso. “They come up here and they look at things, they go to another shop, they buy, they get their coupon and they come back. People are running up and down the street. So it’s a lot of fun.”
There’s already excitement up and down the street at businesses that sell antiques, collectibles, and vintage items, Mancuso said. He said the market endured some down years, when it was hurt by the poor economy and other factors, but it’s now enjoying a nice rebound.
“There was a little bit of a lull there because of the older generation not buying any more, not collecting, and younger people not really catching on to it,” he said.
But now, helped in part by reality TV shows like Pawn Stars, plus the fact that many young people are going green and retro, things are looking up.
“We’re seeing a lot of young people coming through the door now,” Mancuso said, “and business is good again.”