Antiques expert and appraiser Michael Hansen has weathered the antiques business for 39 years. Despite difficult economic times and dwindling public interest in antiques, Hansen remains passionate about his work and uses it as a way to give back to the community.
As a strong supporter of local theater arts, Hansen offers his appraisal services to the Old Courthouse Theatre in Concord. This past weekend, Hansen and the Old Courthouse Theatre hosted an antiques appraisal fair and fundraising opportunity for the organization. Fair visitors were invited to bring in antiques for an expert appraisal by Hansen. Visitors were asked for a small donation of $5, a small fee compared to the ones at similar antiques appraisal events.
Saturday was Hansen's second appraisal event with the Old Courthouse Theatre, but he has been appraising antiques for 17 years. He was certified by the Appraisal Course Associates, with a degree in personal property appraising. Since then, he has appraised items for many different organizations including banks, the Breast Cancer Foundation and other community organizations.
"Through my appraisal part of the business, I have touched and appraised nearly $30 million worth of quality antiques, not counting collectibles," Hansen said.
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He hopes to lend his expertise to the Carolina Raptor Center as an effort to raise funds for the nonprofit organization.
While his appraisal skills are well-used for community work, Hansen also owns and operates Mike's-n-Gayle's Toys, Joys Antiques with his wife, Gayle. They attend 16 to 19 antique shows annually and conduct business on the road from Florida to Massachusetts.
Hansen specializes in antique toys.
"I'm particularly interested in toys because they are so diverse and interesting," said Hansen.
Equally, Hansen is sad to see how toys are fading from the scene today.
"It is sad to say, but 100 years from now there will not be many people like me because there are not many toys today," he said. "Technology has taken toys away from children."
Because of the swift retreat of creative toys in today's market, Hansen tries to inspire children to become toy collectors.
"I try to get young people under the age of 12 interested. I'm not super successful, but I am successful," he said.
Hansen said about five percent of their stock comes from eBay. The rest of their stock comes from estate sales and antique auctions.
Slow economic times have also been a difficult obstacle for Hansen and others in the antique business.
"In the past six years, sales have dropped off 46 percent for our business. The friends we have in the business also express the same type or amount of loss," he said.
Luckily, Hansen and Gayle have found ways to make adjustments to their business.
"We have set our sights much lower and altered all of our expectations for the business," Hansen said.
Even though the antique business is a challenging one, Hansen is more than satisfied with the perks of his job. Building friendships with people all over the world, finding precious and unique treasures and teaching the public how to take care of their special items are just some of the advantages to his business.
He looks forward to helping out the Old Courthouse Theatre again in June.
"The Old Courthouse Theatre is a valuable and wonderful organization in our community," he said. "I urge everyone to come to their amazing shows and do whatever they can to support the Old Courthouse Theatre."
Hansen's business is located in the new antique mall in downtown Concord on McGill Avenue. Hansen is 68 years old and has lived in Concord for 22 years.