Replacing the Irreplaceable

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					by: ARA Content

There's Hope for that Broken Tea Cup or Lost Fork

(ARA) - "They were the only ones that offered any encouragement," says Margaret Winters. The
Northridge, Calif. resident is talking about Replacements Ltd., a company that tracks down
discontinued china, silver, glassware and collectibles. Winters lost the teapot from the tea set her
husband bought her before they were married, as well as several pieces of her Noritake wedding
china, in the 1994 Northridge earthquake, which registered 6.8 on the Richter scale. She had lost
other pieces of wedding china in a 1971 earthquake as well, and had decided it was time to make
her collection complete again.

Unfortunately, Noritake no longer manufactured Winters' pattern. A friend suggested she contact
Replacements Ltd. "They found cups, saucers and a cake plate right away," she says, adding she
was very impressed by the way the china was packed and shipped, as well as the quality of the
pieces she received. However, the company advised her that she might be in for a wait on the
teapot. "Every so often, I would call them and check to see if I was still on the list," laughs
Winters. "They always told me they were still looking for me."

Indeed, Replacements has about 1,000 "dish detectives" who are constantly scouring flea
markets, garage sales and estate auctions for items requested by customers. "If we don't have it,
we will do everything that we can to try to find it," says company spokesman Liam Sullivan.

But there is a very good chance that the Greensboro, N.C.-based business will already have what
customers are looking for. They have an inventory of more than 9 million pieces in stock,
representing 175,000 different patterns, and the list is constantly growing. "We discover a new
pattern just about every day," says Sullivan.

As pieces come in, employees inspect each one and give it a grade, then assign it to a spot on one
of the 50,000 shelves in the warehouse, which is the size of more than four football fields. In the
showroom, the Great Wall of China spans 40 feet and displays hundreds of china patterns. The
display area is open to the public, and hosts thousands of visitors every year.

Those looking to complete their set of china or silver simply call the company or visit its Web
site armed with the name of the pattern they're looking for and the pieces they need. If you don't
know the name of the pattern, you can compare it to pictures on the Web site, or call and
describe it to a customer service representative who will help identify it.

Bob Page, founder of Replacements, started the company in 1981 as a logical extension of his
weekend hobby of scouring flea markets and estate sales looking for tableware. He started
getting requests from people asking him to look for pieces they wanted, and from there a
business was born.

Replacements has tracked down china for the rich and famous, including Sen. Ted Kennedy,
Barbara Walters, Charlton Heston, Betty Ford and author Anne Rice. Television shows such as
"All My Children" and "Everybody Loves Raymond" also come to the company looking for
dishes. However, it's stories like Winters' that make the business so fulfilling, says Sullivan.

"This is a very emotional subject," says Sullivan. "These are more than dishes, they're part of
people's lives, part of their family history," he says. "We're really replacing memories. "

Winters would agree. Although it took some time, Replacements found her a new teapot just in
time for the holidays. "I kept longing for that teapot," she says. "Now I can fully enjoy my
china."

For more information, or to register your pattern with Rep lacements Ltd., visit the company's
Web site, www.replacements.com, or call (800) 737-5223.

SIDEBAR ONE:

Here are the top 10 most popular discontinued patterns based on requests to Replacements Ltd.:

      Weatherly by Lenox
      Desert Rose by Franciscan
      Ivy by Franciscan
      Azalea by Noritake
      Brookdale by Lenox
      Rosilande by Haviland
      Runnymede-Blue by Wedgwood
      Moonspun by Lenox
      Sunnyvale by Castleton
      Kingsley by Lenox

SIDEBAR TWO:

Liam Sullivan of Replacements Ltd. offers the following tips for caring for fine china, crystal
and silver:

      Fine crystal and china should always be washed by hand in warm water with mild
       detergent. When preparing to wash by hand, use a rubber mat or towel to cushion the
       bottom of the sink.
      Modern china can sometimes be put in the dishwasher, but make sure the words
       "dishwasher safe" appear on the back of the china.
      Always store sterling in a case lined with soft cloth. Do not use a drawer in the kitchen
       that is opened frequently, as exposure to air promotes tarnishing.
      Store crystal right side up to protect delicate rims.
      Never stack china cups more than two high to prevent chipping and breakage.

This article was posted on September 21, 2002

				
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