"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.