Chicago is losing its antique shows

My goal is to publish new posts twice a week — Mondays and Thursdays. However, if you don’t see a new post on Thursday, it’s because I was too busy, so please look for a new one the following Monday.


Chicago is a great city for antiques. Its large population and centralized location allow it to draw collectors and decorators from all directions. There’s good interest from the affluent community of the greater Chicago area. You would think it could support many antique shows, but they’re mostly gone.

So what happened? I wish there were some clear answer, but there isn’t. Ten years ago, we would come to Chicago to exhibit at 5-6 shows annually. Now we’re down to 2 — Winnetka in the fall and the Chicago Botanic Garden in the spring. Amazingly there isn’t a single show left in downtown Chicago.

The Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, Rosemont, IL

The Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, Rosemont, IL

Here’s a little history. Dolphin Promotions used to hold a show at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL. At one point, the show was held three times a year, with approximately 200 exhibitors. I loved that show. Buying was easy. Attendance was great. The show was easy to setup. Vehicles were permitted to drive onto the show floor. The hotels were right across the street. Listen to my very big nostalgic sigh! As dealers started to drop out and fewer people attended, the show was cut to once a year, until it finally closed. I sure miss that one.

Arlington Park Racetrack

Arlington Park Racetrack

The antique show at Arlington Park Raceway was one of the best in the country many years ago. There were three floors of dealers and 30,000 visitors! After the fire at the racetrack in July of 1985 (click here for the video), the promoter, Charles Wheatley, moved the show temporarily to Donnelly Hall at McCormick Place (click here for the article from the Chicago Tribune). Unfortunately he never restarted the show at Arlington after the racetrack’s reconstruction. (Scratch my head about that.) Many years later Dolphin Promotions restarted the show to moderate success. The show was then sold to Shawn Hastings, who unfortunately ran it into the ground. It closed a few years ago.

The Chicago Merchandise Mart

The Chicago Merchandise Mart

The story in downtown Chicago is even more unfortunate. For years, the Merchandise Mart ran a very successful show. At one point it ran twice a year, but later was cut to once a year in the spring. Two years ago, the Palm Beach Show Group decided to come to Chicago. Here the details get a little murky, but to the best of my knowledge, they tried to negotiate with the Merchandise Mart. After failing to reach an agreement, the Palm Beach boys decided to do battle with the Merchandise Mart. They started a new show at the Navy Pier to compete head on with the Mart. Dealers were forced to choose between the two. The Mart caved and the Palm Beach boys won the battle (but apparently not the war). The Palm Beach Show Group held a show at the Navy Pier last year that was not well received. They couldn’t get enough dealers to resign for 2015, so not only will there not be a Navy Pier show, there won’t be a Merchandise Mart show either. Sounds like a case of killing the goose that laid the golden eggs. I don’t know if either the Merchandise Mart or the Palm Beach Show Group will revive either show. Personally I would like to see an agreement where the Palm Beach Show Group runs the show, but the Merchandise Mart hosts the show. The earliest that could happen would be the spring of 2016. Since they couldn’t work out an agreement for 2015, I’m pessimistic there’ll be a show next year. I hope I’m wrong.

chicago-botanic-garden-4-2015So what does that leave? The Antiques, Garden & Design Show at the Chicago Botanic Garden, in Glencoe, IL, a beautiful suburb north of the city. It will be held this April 17 – 19, 2015, 10 AM to 5 PM, Friday – Sunday. We’ll be there and we hope you will too. It’s a fun show that combines antiques and gardening. If the weather is nice, some of the flowers will be in bloom, but there are no guarantees. Chicago weather is fickle — it could be 40° or 80°. But we’ll be indoors and not subject to the weather. This will be your only chance to see us at any antique show in the greater Chicago area until the Winnetka show in October. Make your plans now. You’ll enjoy the show!


pier-show-3-2015Now for a little down time and a lovely vacation. We’ll be back in time for our next show, the NYC Pier Antique Show, March 28-29, 2015.

Click here to check my website for the latest items and to look around. I always strive to offer the finest objects for sale on my website and at every show. There are many items for sale, sold items with prices and free lessons about glass and lamps. And remember to keep reading my blog.

3 thoughts on “Chicago is losing its antique shows

  1. what about the Randolph street antique market/show in chicago, it still operate’s and dose very well. why can’t you sell there?

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