With the economy flailing and customers watching their budgets, I have to ask how the shop is still thriving. One of the comments I hear regularly is that our product mix always provides something for our customers to dream about. When buying merchandise for Patina Antiques, I make an attempt to visualize an item in a home setting. Where and how will the purchaser use this beautiful, (or funky), piece of history? Will it be functional or will it be strictly decorative? Would I use it in any house I was styling? Does the item feel good? Does it immediately cause a spiritual reunion with the past? Does it make me smile? These qualifiers help me determine if an item is likely to speak to people who meander through the shop. There are many antique malls and shops filled with the mundane and plentiful objects of yesteryear. Competition is stiff and expendable income for non-essentials is limited. How can I be one step ahead of my competition? What does it take to survive and prosper in the lean times? (In thirty years I have seen many lean times.) The answer, I believe, is have the right stuff. When we hesitate to purchase a new house or a new car, because the economy causes us to tighten our belts, we still have a desire to surround ourselves with beautiful, "feel good" things. I want to be the source for those things that cause pleasant retrospect. A beautiful object that makes my customer remember her grandmother may also make her remember the hard times grandmother endured and survived. The encouragement received from a timeworn, hand carved wooden bowl may be just the lift we all need. A beautiful message from generations past. So many times I've heard someone say, "I wasn't planning to spend any money when I came in today, but this . . . . ". I smile and acknowledge that intention. I've had it myself so many times. But you know the old saying - the time to buy an antique is when you see it. If it speaks to you, calls your name, evokes sweet memories, appeals to your spirit, maybe it's meant to be. Maybe the right antiques will always be necessary to us, no matter what the economy says . . . .