The competition, which is being run by Homes and Antiques magazine, will be the major focus of this year's National Antiques Week (November 14-21) and the public will be invited to nominate their favourite antiques destinations from early October until the end of November.
With this week's issue of ATG comes a display card inviting customers to nominate their favourite businesses. All firms with suitable premises are urged to display this on the counter or in their window, as well as contacting potential voters by all available means.
The message from similar initiatives in other industries is that the businesses who do most to promote themselves to existing and new customers not only stand the best chance of winning but also find that they do more business. At the same time the profile of the whole sector is raised by the publicity generated by the competition.
Nominations can be made online and they are invited in five categories:
- Best antiques shop
- Best specialist shop
- Best auction house
- Best antiques centre
- Best mid-century/vintage shop
All those who submit nominations will have the chance to win one of ten prizes, each worth at least £200.
The businesses with most nominations will be visited by a panel of judges early in 2012 to determine the winner in each category.
The campaign is being backed by TV celebrity and champion of antiques Kirstie Allsopp. She will launch National Antiques Week at the Olympia Winter Fine Art and Antiques Fair and announce the winners at the Bath Decorative Antiques Fair next March.
"Everyone wants to be a winner and antiques shops are no different," she says. "Too many people are afraid of buying antiques or think they're expensive. The message that needs to be sung from the rooftops is this: this is the right way to buy - antiques hold their value in a way that modern furniture simply does not. This initiative is the perfect opportunity for the trade to reach out to new customers."
National Antiques Week is co-ordinated by Gail McLeod of Antiques News & Fairs and is supported by a committee of organisations and businesses representing the whole art and antiques industry, including ATG.