Published: February 14, 2023
Rick Russack, Photos Courtesy of Participating Dealers
NEW YORK CITY – It was the third year for Marvin Getman’s virtual New York Antiques Show which included 47 dealers, many of whom were repeats from the first two years. The January 27-29 show had buyer-friendly features such as allowing exhibitors to highlight items priced less than $100. Dealers could replace sold listings and on Sunday morning, the final day of the show, add additional items to drive continual traffic. According to exhibitors, the software is easy to navigate.
Sold “tags” began to appear within a few minutes of the show opening Friday at noon. Many dealers had several sales. Successful dealers posted several good photographs to show off what they were selling and took the time to provide thorough descriptions. Dealers included a link to their own websites, allowing buyers to view more of their inventory. Phone numbers and email addresses are provided, meaning that buyers and sellers deal directly with one another. Getman does not handle any money and does not take a percentage of sales. The show attracted more than 5,000 attendees and sold more than $100,000 worth of about 1,100 available items.
Shoppers were about evenly divided between men and women, but a number that jumps off the page is that nearly 77 percent of the shoppers were under the age of 45. Not many in-person shows draw that much of a crowd, especially with a majority of that age group. These numbers indicate that virtual shows are an important part of our industry and are likely to grow in popularity, especially for those dealers who tailor their inventories to these demographics.
Two dealers, in emails after the show, commented about the advantages of virtual shows. Debbie McArdle, Iron Horse Antiques & Art, Manitowish Waters, Wis., whose “booth” had eight sold signs Saturday afternoon, wrote, “A [regular] customer from Michigan called about an item we were offering… Today she said, ‘I’m so thankful I don’t have to get in my car in the middle of a snow storm and drive to Illinois to see you!'” Commenting on the show in general, McArdle said, “I think it’s very clear that post-pandemic there remains significant interest in Getman’s online shows. Both dealers and customers are very comfortable with the format and find the virtual platform easy to navigate.”
McArdle offered a circa 1895 salesman’s sample of a windmill, including its original carrying case. It would have been used by a traveling salesman for the Monitor Manufacturing Company of Auburn, Ind. It was 19 inches tall, included dozens of wooden vanes and was fully labeled. It was priced $12,750. McArdle later said that the item attracted three times more page clicks than any other item in her “booth.”
Lisa Bouchard, Melrose Books and Arts, Providence, R.I., added her thoughts on how virtual shows have affected her business. “I was a first-time exhibitor at this show. I took a chance largely based on my past experiences with Getman… Virtual shows kept me in business during the bleak pandemic period and breathed new life into it for me. I’ve attracted ‘new eyes’ that had never seen my inventory at in-person shows or on websites. Academic institutions and libraries have ‘found me!’ I had a crackerjack sale: a more contemporary collage done by artist Nan Swid that went to an institution. It incorporated the detached spine from a vintage tome. A young archivist from the university spotted it, he is helping to build an innovative new collection of book-related objects that are transformative from antique to a more modern representation… It felt like a validation of my curated virtual presentation, [and that] there is new life in this sometimes sober-sided biz.”
What was for sale? Several exhibitors offered Native American textiles and other items, including a Chippewa Nineteenth Century loom beaded bandolier bag measuring 38 inches long from the Peter Tillou collection, offered for $3,450 by Ziebarth’s Antiques, Avoca, Wis. Trade signs were available from several dealers. A large, folky, hand-cut painted sheet iron cow, probably used as a farm sign, was $495 from Holden Antiques, Naples, Fla. Numerous paintings representing a wide variety of styles included a Nineteenth Century pastel portrait of an alert young dog. Garvey Rita Art and Antiques, Orleans, Mass., priced it at $1,400. Donna Kmetz, Douglas, Mass., had an early Twentieth Century Ashcan school painting of a steam train in a New York City railyard by John Wenger (1887-1976) and asked $750.
Almost every category was covered. Ashaway Antiques, Ashaway, R.I., sold a 1940s horsehide police officer’s coat. Beck’s, Fredericksburg, Va., sold a Goodspeed’s reprint of Paul Revere’s “Boston Massacre.” Dave Thompson, South Dennis, Mass., sold a tintype of a boy and his very large dog and “the best” early wrought iron pipe or ember tongs. Days Gone By, Royalston, Mass., sold an unusual presentation redware flask with incised script on both sides. Kmetz sold an impressionist scene by Edward Page, known as one of the Lynn Beach painters. Neverbird, Surry, Va., sold an 1891 copy of Forty Years Among The Zulus by Josiah Taylor. This is an abbreviated list; it could have included many more items.
After the show, Getman was pleased. “We attracted some experienced dealers with very good stuff. The stats have shown that several dealers made multiple sales and may have done even more from their own websites, which were linked to their show pages. I think some dealers completed sales after the show ended. It’s a very inexpensive way for dealers to reach a wider audience.” Getman reports that sales through the show website totaled $104,000 with an average sale price of $570. The most expensive item sold brought $7,500. It’s likely that at least some exhibitors benefited from the buyers’ ability to visit their websites via the link on show pages. A sampling of items sold was possible by reviewing “sold” tags on the afternoon of the show’s final day.
Getman’s virtual 29-Hour Book and Ephemera Fair will occur on March 15 and 16. For additional information, www.getmansvirtual.com or contact Marvin Getman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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