‘Antiques Trail’ may go statewide [Waterbury Republican-American]

June 6, 2013

Article as it appeared in the Waterbury Republican-American

A bill that would promote antiques shops and large auction houses throughout the state with road signs, notices and web advertisements has been approved by lawmakers.

Sen. Robert J. Kane, R-Watertown, sponsored the legislation, which seeks to establish a statewide “Connecticut Antiques Trail.”

The marketing campaign would be modeled after a trail already in existence in Woodbury. It was established in 2009 when Kane worked with the state Department of Transportation to erect signs on Interstate 84 to promote antiques shops off the highway. This would extend the trail across Connecticut. It would require the state to identify major antiques dealers, communities like Woodbury with a large concentration of dealers, and auction houses with annual sales over $1 million. The state would erect road signs in those communities to promote the shops, and would advertise them on a new website. “The unofficial antiques capital of Connecticut is Woodbury, but we have antiques dealers in all corners of our state,” Kane said. “It makes a lot of sense for us to promote those unique, small businesses and get them the attention they deserve.”

The House passed the bill Tuesday, and the Senate approved it May 22. It now heads to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s desk.

Kane likens the antiques campaign to the Connecticut Wine Trail, which promotes vineyards with road signs. He worked with the DOT to get the first antiques trail launched in 2009 after he was approached by a constituent.

The idea was to catch drivers’ attention on the highway and direct them to Woodbury, where Route 6 is lined with antiques shops on both sides. It is virtually impossible to quantify how successful the program has been, but Kane said it can’t hurt.

“There are many ancillary businesses which would benefit from this legislation,” he said. “Restaurants, museums and bed and breakfasts would all see an uptick in business. It’s a chance for residents and visitors to get to know our beautiful state and enjoy its wonderful history and culture. We have much to be proud of, so why not let the world know?”