If your image of someone who sells antiques is of a solitary shopkeeper, wary, competitive, one step away from becoming a hermit, be ready to change your mind. These days antiques dealers are banding together -- congregating in antiques malls, cooperating in advertising efforts and forming community identities.
In Fells Point, Denise Whitman, owner of Auntie Q's (276-7660) at 1721 Aliceanna St., decided to add up the antiques shops in her neighborhood. "I was amazed at the number," she says, "and I thought it would be good for people coming to the area to know."
So she sat down to her computer and made up a map of the area indicating all the shop locations. "People who buy antiques tend to go where antiques stores are congregated. I thought a map would be just another way to promote the area, and it makes sense. Nobody carries the same thing, so if somebody doesn't find something at my shop I'd rather send them up the street to a friend."
Ms. Whitman makes a copy of her map for each shop owner and then it's up to him or her to reproduce and distribute it. She has had to update the map about every three months. There are 35 stores on the current map with four brand new ones waiting to get on the map that will come out in a few weeks.
The antiques dealers out in Funkstown, near Hagerstown, have done the same thing. Their map includes six individual dealers, two antiques malls, a bed and breakfast and a shop featuring herbs and dried flowers.
Owners of several of the shops -- Ruth's Antique Shop, John C. Newcomer & Associates and Hudson House -- are well known because of their work with local interior designers and their presence at East Coast antiques shows. The two antiques malls, Antiques Crossroads and Beaver Creek Antique Market, have about 150 dealers each.
To obtain a copy of the map, call (301) 791-3130 or (301) 733-7008. Funkstown is located one mile south of Hagerstown and about 65 miles west of Baltimore, just off Interstate 70 and U.S. 40.
One of the newest antiques malls is out in Ellicott City -- Antiques International in the shops at Ellicott Mills, at 8307 Main St.
"We have oak furniture, primitives, old radios, lace and linens, vintage clothing and a nice collection of old glass," says manager Carole Lee.
The mall is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. The telephone number is 461-8700.