Column on Antique Row
Patricia Ward Biederman’s column (May 16), in which she drew an image of prestigious shops offering fine and valued antiques in an otherwise run-down Canoga Park, has generated a reaction of consternation and outright anger. Customers and shop owners are baffled as to what possible purpose was served by Ms. Biederman’s depiction. Was this an ill-conceived study in contrasts, or is she down on us?
The intent may have been (for the purpose of reader value) to embellish what is an otherwise routine example of commerce, but the article, in fact, has been very damaging to that segment of our business.
Her choice of “seedy,” “frumpy,” “urban boonies” is more derogatory than picturesque; her implications that shoppers must share the curbs and sidewalks of Sherman Way with “pickups and leprous Buicks” undergoing repairs and “dark-haired men seeking day labor” is a distortion and bad geography besides; her explanation of the conduct and spectrum of the antique business is superficial and, in part, erroneous. The shopping environment here may not be glossy enough for her tastes, but Ms. Biederman certainly has seen or can envision the extreme neighborhood decay that has been avoided by the continuous efforts of the antique dealers working with other members of the business community and the Chamber of Commerce. The tone of the area, in fact, is enhanced by the mere presence of these antique shops. Let us not drive them away.
Again, of what value was this writer’s account? Her description now has many potential customers questioning the advisability of visiting and browsing what in fact is a unique cluster of shops for the antique lover. I frequently walk this area at morning, lunch times and evening; it assuredly is pleasant and safe.
The community of antique dealers has regularly advertised in The Times to establish a reputation that has been undone in one sweep.
Vietinghoff is president of the Canoga Park Chamber of Commerce.