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ANF Blog

HEMSWELL ANTIQUES - EUROPE'S LARGEST CENTRE

Occasional contributor to Antiques News and Fairs, Ivor Hughes has been to Lincolnshire to see how the dealers are making the most of technology.

Hemswell Antique Centre
was opened in 1986 by Rex and Nepi Miller, now  sadly passed. Son Rob shared the reins with his brother from 2000 until 2008, when he bought his brother’s share. The buy-out and ongoing investment give two clear messages – that the centres are a going concern, and that Rob Miller is there to stay.


One centre in three buildings

RAF Hemswell is a large complex with maybe twenty other businesses on-site, including a handful of other antiques centres – worth a visit while you’re there, but not to be mistaken for any of the three large two-storey H-shaped buildings run by Rob Miller.

Around 300 exhibitors are evenly spread between the three. Buildings 1 (closest to the parking) and 2 are on the same stretch of road and have a 1950 dateline applied to most exhibits - in cabinets, on the floor, on the walls or hanging from the ceiling. Building 3, a couple of hundred yards opposite, has no dateline - although most exhibits are over 50 years old. Building 1 is the best start/finish – it has a well appointed coffee shop and restaurant. Each building has an information and payment desk at the entrance.

Continuity but not complacency

There is a continuing programme of structural work for each of the buildings, to improve both access and display. The largest investment, recently, has been the addition of around 4000 feet of floor space to Building 1. Split evenly between the two floors, it brought into play the area between two spurs.

Benefiting from nearby events

The present economic climate has to some extent been balanced by the strengths of the dollar, euro and yen. Those strengths have generated numbers of overseas buyers unprecedented before Rob took sole charge - particularly around the time of the fairs at nearby Lincoln Home and Antiques Show and Newark International Antiques and Collectors Fair


Hemswell’s website – a key to the success

Business is also boosted by the centre’s interactive website. It started taking shape a few years ago. The present website is a result of continued refinement and tweaking at both ends. Behind the scenes, the IT has become more sophisticated and customer-friendly. The presentation of the on-screen images and descriptions have improved beyond recognition.

A team of three is charged with the task of keeping the site ticking over at around 3000 items photographed, catalogued and described – all searchable by item title and description. Automatic alerts now go out when any description triggers customers’ saved searches.

  The search engine optimisation is remarkable. I once put it to the test by searching “Victorian glass dump” on five www search engines. From the millions of results offered, the Hemswell link popped up on the front pages of Orange, Google and Bing, and on the second pages of Alta Vista and Yahoo. Case proven.

The new phone app

At the time of writing, November 2011, Hemswell has just launched its very own mobile phone “app” – believed to be the first of its kind for an antiques centre. It makes the navigation of the existing Hemswell website far quicker for people using smaller portable devices.

One stop shop

The variety and quantity of exhibits at HAC makes one-stop shopping a realistic  opportunity. Send them your shopping list and they will find the options on offer. Any purchases can then be collected, delivered or mailed in accordance with the customer’s wishes.

Hemswell Antique Centre is open every day apart from Christmas, Boxing and New Year Days from 10-5. Hemswell Antiques Centre

CAPTIONS

C19th French Empire clock is typical of the new wave of finer goods in Building 1.

Diversity - pocket barometer/altimeter with accompanying compass and thermometer

Plenty of everyday collectibles and kitchenware, shown here Denby Ware

A group of heraldic motifs

C19th French decorative wall clock with brass mounts

 



Antiques News Blog

HEMSWELL ANTIQUES - EUROPE'S LARGEST CENTRE

Occasional contributor to Antiques News and Fairs, Ivor Hughes has been to Lincolnshire to see how the dealers are making the most of technology.

Hemswell Antique Centre
was opened in 1986 by Rex and Nepi Miller, now  sadly passed. Son Rob shared the reins with his brother from 2000 until 2008, when he bought his brother’s share. The buy-out and ongoing investment give two clear messages – that the centres are a going concern, and that Rob Miller is there to stay.


One centre in three buildings

RAF Hemswell is a large complex with maybe twenty other businesses on-site, including a handful of other antiques centres – worth a visit while you’re there, but not to be mistaken for any of the three large two-storey H-shaped buildings run by Rob Miller.

Around 300 exhibitors are evenly spread between the three. Buildings 1 (closest to the parking) and 2 are on the same stretch of road and have a 1950 dateline applied to most exhibits - in cabinets, on the floor, on the walls or hanging from the ceiling. Building 3, a couple of hundred yards opposite, has no dateline - although most exhibits are over 50 years old. Building 1 is the best start/finish – it has a well appointed coffee shop and restaurant. Each building has an information and payment desk at the entrance.

Continuity but not complacency

There is a continuing programme of structural work for each of the buildings, to improve both access and display. The largest investment, recently, has been the addition of around 4000 feet of floor space to Building 1. Split evenly between the two floors, it brought into play the area between two spurs.

Benefiting from nearby events

The present economic climate has to some extent been balanced by the strengths of the dollar, euro and yen. Those strengths have generated numbers of overseas buyers unprecedented before Rob took sole charge - particularly around the time of the fairs at nearby Lincoln Home and Antiques Show and Newark International Antiques and Collectors Fair


Hemswell’s website – a key to the success

Business is also boosted by the centre’s interactive website. It started taking shape a few years ago. The present website is a result of continued refinement and tweaking at both ends. Behind the scenes, the IT has become more sophisticated and customer-friendly. The presentation of the on-screen images and descriptions have improved beyond recognition.

A team of three is charged with the task of keeping the site ticking over at around 3000 items photographed, catalogued and described – all searchable by item title and description. Automatic alerts now go out when any description triggers customers’ saved searches.

  The search engine optimisation is remarkable. I once put it to the test by searching “Victorian glass dump” on five www search engines. From the millions of results offered, the Hemswell link popped up on the front pages of Orange, Google and Bing, and on the second pages of Alta Vista and Yahoo. Case proven.

The new phone app

At the time of writing, November 2011, Hemswell has just launched its very own mobile phone “app” – believed to be the first of its kind for an antiques centre. It makes the navigation of the existing Hemswell website far quicker for people using smaller portable devices.

One stop shop

The variety and quantity of exhibits at HAC makes one-stop shopping a realistic  opportunity. Send them your shopping list and they will find the options on offer. Any purchases can then be collected, delivered or mailed in accordance with the customer’s wishes.

Hemswell Antique Centre is open every day apart from Christmas, Boxing and New Year Days from 10-5. Hemswell Antiques Centre

CAPTIONS

C19th French Empire clock is typical of the new wave of finer goods in Building 1.

Diversity - pocket barometer/altimeter with accompanying compass and thermometer

Plenty of everyday collectibles and kitchenware, shown here Denby Ware

A group of heraldic motifs

C19th French decorative wall clock with brass mounts