For 5 Questions this week, the Herald speaks to Ell-Piret Multer, who owns Plain & Fancy Antique Mall, located in the Grand Cities Mall.
Q: Please tell us about yourself and your business.
A: The Plain & Fancy Antique Mall is one of the biggest malls in North Dakota. We sponsor the Antiques Roadshow. We are sponsors in the sense that we have a quick, you could call it a commercial, but it's a spot after the show airs, they show a picture of our mall and just say a bit about what we do. I've been at this for a very long time, versus as a hobby, and now as for the last, I'd say 25 years or so, I've been an antiques dealer. I have 10 dealers in the mall, so it's a cooperative effort among lots of us. I own it, but I lease space to other dealers.
Q: What draws you and others to antiques?
A: I think it's the fact that these are things that were used in everyday life, years ago. It's interesting for us to look at these things that other people used as tools, for example, 100 years ago, or decorative objects. And it gives us a connection to the past that we may not always have an appreciation for.
Q: Do you have a particular area you specialize in?
A: I do appraisal work. I know a lot about a lot of different things, but my favorite thing probably would be pottery. I love all sorts of pottery.
Q: What goes into the appraisal of an item?
A: A lot of it is experience. We see a lot of the same things over and over and over again. There are so many different ways to acquire knowledge about antiques. There's a lot of books out there, a lot of things online. But really, the value is determined by the condition it’s, in what it is exactly and who it's made by. Oftentimes I find that people have items that are old, but they're in very poor condition so the value isn’t there for them. In order for the value to be there, the condition has to be good.
Q: What's a unique item in your store, and what makes it special?
A: One time I was asked what is the oldest thing you have in your store. I looked around at all the pottery and all the glassware, some of them are more than 100 years old. I had to say that it was this very large fossilized piece of rock that had all of these many, many fossils in it. It’s five million years old.