Arts & Culture

Saudi Online Shop Opens Doors to Vintage World

In a world full of billions of copies of factorized things, vintage items have begun to gain more interest. People are gaining more interest in vintage items whose histories add layers of uniqueness to them.  Each piece carries with it stories from the past. Just how young people nowadays appreciate old people and seek to take a scoop of their wisdom, they hold the same appreciation for these vintage pieces that add pieces of the past to their houses or bodies.

Crystal Ages

 

Maha Alsharif’s Riyadh-based Instagram shop, Crystal Ages, provides a doorway into the world of vintage.

She sells Saudi jewelry and books, products from Japan and Scandinavia, and finds from the Victorian and French Art Nouveau eras.

From Hobby to  business

Her story began when she used to travel abroad to visit flea markets, vintage shops, and auction houses. She was carefully building her collection of timeless items from all over the world. Little did she know that this hobby would turn into a business.

“In 2014, my mother looked at all my collectibles and jokingly said, ‘you should open a museum and show them to the public.’ We both laughed, but later, I thought, why not an online shop?” said Maha.

In 2015, she started to sell those items.

“It started without a business model, a plan, or even a budget. It came out organically through social media and has remained the same,” she added.

Research

Given that the value of these finds lies in their decades, maybe even centuries-old stories, researching to find these stories is vital. Customers are not just purchasing items, but also a piece of history.

“Research, always, before or after finding the items. Uniqueness, rich history, handmade, are usually part of the process when working to find an item,” said Maha.

Early Studies

Because she studied economics, Maha understands the importance of the law of supply and demand.

“I have a strong sense of what people are looking for. I aim for it and try to find a reaction,” she explained.

Unlike mass-produced products, vintage pieces are often one-of-a-kind or produced in limited quantities. This scarcity drives up the demand and makes vintage shopping a unique and exclusive experience.

“I’ve always been fond of vintage and antiques since an early age. I like to believe that I work and trade with nostalgia, memories, and even feelings rather than just items,” commented Maha.

The first item Alsharif sold was a typewriter from the 1930s. A rare Patek Philippe pocket watch, King Saud special edition 1956, was sold for approximately SR250,000 ($66,700) making it the most expensive thing that Maha has ever sold.

Mixed point of Views

Ironically, as much as these items are valued now, old people to whom Maha talked about her business had a different opinion. Rather than selling old, used items, they encouraged her to enjoy what the digital era offered of luxurious things.

It is no surprise that for someone like Maha, physical books and vinyl records are more enjoyable than modern alternatives.

“For humans to truly enjoy an item, we need to go through the process. Listening to music is now all digital; it’s all in the palm of your hand. Even reading a book is now on apps on an iPad, instead of reading a book,” she added.

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