History’s Future… Laster’s Fine Art & Antiques
By Ray Morgan
I love to visit antique stores and get a glimpse into our shared past, to see how people lived, their tools, their furniture, and their art. We have a unique portal to our history in Laster’s Fine Art & Antiques, Winston-Salem.
Regulars know the inventory turns over constantly. In a recent conversation with Larry and Ryan Laster, father and son owners, they shared with me their store sees a consistent turnover of unique items. In fact, their advice is “If you see a piece that makes you smile, don’t wait. It won’t be here when you come back.” Larry expanded, “We see it all the time. A person will be very interested in a piece of furniture or artwork and they tell us they want to think about it. They didn’t see the other patron, just waiting for them to move on so they could come in and scoop it up!”
I asked where they get their selection of antiques and learned Laster’s doesn’t go shopping, people bring items to them. Having a stellar reputation and over 40 years of experience in the industry means families seek them out to appraise and sell their unique possessions. Laster’s offers purchase or consignment options. For the client who is more interested in finishing the transaction quickly, Laster’s may choose to purchase their piece, however, the downside is the client will earn less. If they can be patient and allow Laster’s to use their extensive knowledge and contacts, they will likely fetch a higher price.
Larry indicated the average price they pay to purchase something is around 35% of what they expect the sale price to be. He emphasized “expect” because they cannot know for certain how much a piece might fetch until the sale happens, however, they generally are able to predict with a fair amount of accuracy. For being patient, the client receives 60% of the sale price on consignment.
How quickly an individual piece may sell depends on hundreds of different criteria, however, quality and uniqueness are big determining factors. For example, they took a Dale Chihuly blown glass sculpture in on consignment and found a buyer in the Midwest in 3 days. The day before our conversation, they had just shipped an Italian oil painting to a buyer in Italy, brought to them by a local patron. I am curious to see how long it will take the necklace made from monkey teeth I spotted in the store to find a new home!
Larry and Ryan offer free appraisals with no obligation to use their service after. They warn people against paying a fee based on a percentage of the item’s appraised value. This practice leads many unscrupulous dealers to artificially raise the value to increase their commission. This is why they don’t charge for appraisals. Laster’s reputation for excellence directly led many area estates to use them to find appropriate markets for pieces they either wanted to sell or acquire.
I never fail to get a history lesson while in the store. This time it was a Native American bow and arrow set, complete with a quiver adorned with victory markings and even a finger bone from a slain enemy. A client had brought it in to determine what he had. Because the Apache didn’t care about marking their products with dates and manufacturers, the best we can determine is this is from 1840-1860 and is remarkably well preserved given its age. By the time you read this, it will likely be gone!
Laster’s has local homeschooling families who bring their children to the store for field trips. Artwork, from pre-Columbian pottery to WWII Armed Forces posters, antique furniture, works of literature in exquisite leather-bound volumes, maps, sculptures, coins and more, Laster’s functions as an ever-changing museum, classroom and showroom.
If you haven’t been by Laster’s Fine Art & Antiques, 664 S. Stratford Rd., Winston-Salem, recently then you’re certain to see a new slate of inventory when you come back! If you want to see what has come in this week, you can visit their website (www.LastersFineArt.com) and like their FaceBook page (www.facebook.com/LastersFineArt/).