Why do antique shows have preview parties?

My booth at the April 2010 Los Angeles Antiques Show

My booth at the April 2010 Los Angeles Antiques Show

I don’t understand why fancier antique shows have preview parties. They are an enigma to me. Apparently show promoters feel they’re important. Perhaps if a show has the support of a non-profit organization, it will benefit the show. I just don’t see it. Let me try to analyze the different points of view.

From a dealer’s point of view, I’m totally in the dark. For the most part, preview parties are a waste of a dealer’s time. Almost nobody is there to look at antiques, much less buy antiques, so the evening is spent drinking (that part’s not bad) and scrounging for food. It depends on the show, so sometimes there’s plenty of food and other times not. At some shows, a box with a half sandwich and a couple of cookies is handed out to the dealers for dinner. What??? Give me a break — that’s insulting.

The Los Angeles Antiques Show preview party, April 21, 2010

The Los Angeles Antiques Show preview party, April 21, 2010

From the attendee’s point of view, it’s a fun night out. See and be seen. Eat, drink and be merry. Why not? Attend an elegant social event, get fed, drink and have a great time. This part I understand.

My biggest problem is with the promoter’s point of view. I guess they’re trying to give the show a certain cachet. But is that really what they’re accomplishing? I don’t think so. Whether the show benefits a zoo or a children’s charity doesn’t seem to have any impact whatsoever on the success of the show. A show’s success is measured by other criteria. Is the paid attendance excellent? Are the dealers selling well? Is there a waiting list of dealers who are trying to get into the show? Some of the most successful antique shows in the country do not have preview parties and are doing great — the New York City Pier Show, the Baltimore Summer Antiques Show, the Miami Beach Convention Center Antiques Show. So if a preview party doesn’t seem to have much, if any, effect on these criteria, why have them?

Have I ranted enough yet about preview parties? I wish they would go away and promoters would get down to the business of running high quality shows that the public wants to attend.

I’ll post the results of the Los Angeles Antiques Show on Monday or Tuesday.

I’m taking a lot of time to add new items to my website. In the last few days I’ve added to the Gallé glass and Icart etchings listings. Please take a look, as every day I’m adding more. Click on this link chasenantiques.com.

Please send me your suggestions or questions about art glass, lamps, Louis Icart, shows, auctions, etc. If it’s interesting, I’ll answer your question in a future blog.

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