Setting up a show is the non-glamorous part of the antiques show business. It’s hard work, unpacking, arranging the items, cleaning up, etc., etc. Not fun. Antique dealers get a chance to walk around the show and buy from each other. Unfortunately, the antiques show business is also a victim of the current recession. This show has an indoor section (where I am) and an outdoor section. The indoor section is filled with quality dealers, but the outdoor section is shrinking. Some of the dealers that were on the borderline of being successful have become victims. They’re forced to drop out when there’s not enough business to make it profitable to exhibit. It seems to be a problem at many of the shows around the country.
There are also others reasons why dealers are dropping out. The first that comes to mind is the greying of the dealers. In the United States there doesn’t seem to be a younger generation of antiques dealers to take the place of the older ones. Doesn’t seem to be much of a problem in Europe. There are lots of younger dealers. Not sure why there seems to be such a difference. I have a few ideas, but I’d like to know what you think about this. Let me know if you have any ideas.
Next reason seems to be the Internet. Some dealers, especially the dealers with lower quality, marginal merchandise, have decided to sell on the Internet, either at auction on eBay or on their own websites. It makes a lot of sense. The time and expense to travel to another city are considerable, as well as the risk. Who wants to gamble several thousand dollars in expenses and a week’s time to possibly lose money because sales were poor?
Business was reasonably good in Denver and I’ve got a good feeling about Los Angeles. More on Monday with the results.
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Your comments regarding show quality and dealers is well taken, but hardly a new trend by any means. For years I have done a variety of shows as a dealer – mostly in the Civil War and/or antique firearms and antique toy areas. That the dealers as you mention, are greying and it has more then once, been a topic of conversation.
The customers also are grey for the most part. While the reasons are varied and your take on certain factors correct, we have often speculated that in most collectibles areas, there are no longer entry points for many younger people today, prices have just escalated beyond their means. But a deeper reason may be at play in these areas – the young folks today just do not seem to have much interest in things historical and the finger may really point to our broken educational systems which teach a biased view of things historical. I am not surprised you see younger european dealers for they are prevalent at the better toy and antique car shows as well. Certainly does leave one scratching their head!
Enjoy your blog, keep up the good work and see you at Baltimore.