China replacement center


October 28, 1990|By Lita Solis-Cohen

"Sure I'm in the antiques business; I'm putting a big billboard on the interstate with the word 'Antiques.' After all, 90 percent of what you see in antiques shops nowadays isn't 100 years old," says Bob Page, a little man with a big business in Greensboro, N.C., called Replacements. It is the nation's largest supplier of obsolete and discontinued china, crystal and flatware.

Mr. Page is a passionate flea market scavenger. You'll find him at Brimfield, Mass., and Adamstown, Pa., regularly. In 1981, at the age of 36, he left his job as auditor for the state of North Carolina to devote full time to the china matching service he had started for the fun of it.

"If someone is having a dinner party tomorrow, breaks a cup today and calls us, chances are good we can get it out next-day delivery," says Mr. Page. "We have over 20,000 patterns in stock. Some china dates from the mid-19th century but most of it is 20th century mass-produced patterns, some made for a short time, others discontinued only two years ago.

Dealers in all regions spend their days going to house sales, flea markets and consignment shops, buying partial sets of china, glassware and flatware and selling them to Replacements at a markup.

Replacements only buys pieces in fine condition. If china is chipped, cracked or scratched, or the gold is rubbed, the company won't buy it. Replacements sends packing instructions so sellers can ship sets to Greensboro on approval.

(When buying from matching services, it pays to shop around since prices are based on what the company has in stock.)

Replacements' new address is 1089 Knox Road, P.O. Box 26029, Greensboro, N.C. 27420.

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