Sharp-jacketed Stewart Hoftgartner in his shop Below Stairs in Hungerford where he is seeing a return of buyers from the US.

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You may just about be aware by now that this week involves celebrations across the UK to mark the queen’s Platinum Jubilee when street parties and picnics will take place.

Windsor is expecting large crowds including a community lunch for an estimated 1600 people and antiques shops are preparing for extra business.

Russ Houghton of the Eton Antique Bookshop is getting in copies of the Illustrated London News coronation edition, royal commemorative books and coronation mugs while Marc Hunter, co-owner of Windsor Vintage, is making jubilee plans for the shop.

Picking up

In the wider Berkshire world, Stewart Hofgartner of Below Stairs in Hungerford believes that the return of US visitors to his shop is not just the ‘jubilee bounce’ but a sign of the serious return of visitors from across the pond.

An antiques dealer in the Berkshire town for 40 years, he is also a long-term expert on ITV’s Dickinson’s Real Deal (“It’s so much fun: just like being in the shop”).

Post-pandemic restrictions, Hofgartner certainly feels business is picking up.

“The good news is that the past three or four weeks has seen the return of American customers in person, not just online”, he says. “This year could well see the return of serious numbers of American tourists to our country and particularly to Royal Berkshire not only for the queen’s 70 years on the throne but to a ‘general get back to normal’ attitude.”

Hofgartner, who collected kitchenware as a boy with money earned from his paper rounds, adds: “This time of year is always good for me with garden items and outdoor effects but we have also sold a few big lumps of brown furniture.

“Post-pandemic Hungerford has survived well and all of our antique shops and three antique centres are still trading, thanks to the government, customers old and new and the determination of dealers to survive. We’re all looking forward to a promising summer’s trading.”

Happy Mundays

Gary Munday has been a specialist dealer in antique boxes for nearly 40 years. Back in September 2019 we ran a story on him and his daughter Sarah who had given up their specialist shop Mostly Boxes Antiques in Eton earlier that year to concentrate on their online business and selling at fairs.

These included IACF Newark and Ardingly and Kempton Antiques Market as well as Adams Antiques Fairs at the Royal Horticultural Hall where Gary has been a regular stallholder for 40 years.

Two-plus years later, what’s changed for the Mundays?

Sarah says: “During the pandemic we were the busiest we have ever been on the website taking up to 10 orders a day. People had more time to browse the web and wanted to find beautiful things to spend their money on – from grandmothers buying their grandchildren keepsake boxes to boxes sadly bought for ashes to birthday gifts and presents when people weren’t allowed to spend time together.

“When everything opened up again I was too busy with the website to help with the larger fairs so dad has kept on with the monthly Horti fairs while I concentrate solely on the website. My main business is from dealers in the US and Taiwan and some regular collectors all around the world except the EU.

“Sadly it is impossible to sell to the EU since Brexit as the paperwork and customs charges make it almost impossible.”