Published: July 16, 2002
By Carol Sims
VISTA/SOUTH SALEM, N.Y. — Even at 9 am it was sweltering and by midmorning the heat index was 115. This uncommonly warm weather, even for the Fourth of July, did not stop crowds of shoppers from venturing to the tenth annual Antiques in the Churchyard sale. More than 200 people were lined up at the gate when volunteers started collecting admission. According to show manager Vivien Cord, the gate was excellent; attendance was only down by about 500 in spite of the searing heat.
The Stevens Memorial United Methodist Church, situated on Route 123 and Shady Lane, is an attractive country church. The small but dedicated membership, visible in their red T-shirts, took admission, directed traffic, flipped pancakes at the annual pancake breakfast, staffed the gigantic popcorn maker and food tent and managed the church’s booth, “Grandma’s Attic,” which was located outside the dealer area at the entrance of the show. Even pastor Mary Hoynes pitched in to give a hand as did friends and neighbors. The antiques show is the church’s major fundraiser every year, and the entire $5 price of admission went to the church.
Cord said glowingly, “This show is magic.” Judging from the steady stream of cars entering the show throughout the day, and the familiar sight of a dealer writing up a sales ticket, there are many people who would agree with her. Despite the weather, there was a festive mood at the show and purse strings were loosened. Hot sweaty customers stood shoulder to shoulder with an overall mood of bonhomie as they cruised the tents of the antiques dealers. “Ten years ago this was a craft show with about 15 people showing. Now it has a huge waiting list and we have 118 dealers,” said Cord, who started the show with church member Tom Wright in 1993.
Roger Tunis had a tent full of fine art, including many pieces by listed artists. Marcia Rizzo, New Hartford, N.Y., brought Flow Blue. Kathy Beyer, New Hartford, Conn., had a large selection of red transferware, mostly from England. Lara Joyce Antiques of Westfield, N.J., brought several old cameras. Penny Ross of A Classic Touch did a brisk trade in her vintage textiles. Twentieth Century Ltd brought Scotch Koolers among other things. The show was big enough to get a good variety, and small enough to shop in an hour or two. About 20 dealers brought art pottery, estate jewelry and silver, and as one might expect on the Fourth of July, Americana was scattered throughout.
One 20-year veteran antiques dealer who tried the Antiques in the Churchyard show for the first time was Kathryn Webb of Webb’s American Country, Cazenovia, N.Y. “We did well. We had a good show.” They sold several advertising rdf_Descriptions as well as children’s toys and books and children’s furniture. “We were pretty busy considering the weather. It is a nice show — a quick in-and-out kind of show. People seemed to be a fairly knowledgeable. We kept hearing things like ‘We always look forward to coming to this show.’ People said that they come year after year.”
Colleen Vagnini (Colleen Vagnini Antiques) and her partner Phil Steiner (Weather or Knot) have done the show for three years. They like the upscale crowd and fit the show in with their Stormville, N.Y., and Brimfield, Mass., shows. (Summer shows have been their mainstay since both of them are teachers). They had a large display of collectibles (school pennants, souvenir plates, lunch boxes, chalkware carnival prizes from the 1930s and 1940s) and antiques (mostly lightning rods and weathervanes). Vagnini said the carnival prizes were selling very well.
Steiner sold several lighting rods, something he has collected and sold for about 30 years. They typically go for between $250 and $395, but there were simple examples for less. “Now even in the Midwest, the lightning rods are getting difficult to find. The weathervanes are drying up even faster,” said Vagnini. Customers buy their rdf_Descriptions for indoor and outdoor use. For outdoor use the dealers recommend using new production lightning ball glass. The antique balls usually, but not always, end up inside a collector’s home rather than on top of it.
Beverly Lavallee of Treasures from the Past, Lutherville, Md., bought much of her inventory in England. She has been in the business for ten years and this was her second year at the church show. She sold a very unusual 15-inch iron alligator nutcracker from England, as well as many other smalls. Items were available in every price range. “The crowd was very knowledgeable. Some of our customers had shopped the same markets in London that we had,” said Lavallee, who thoroughly enjoyed the rapport with the Vista/South Salem crowd.
Dealers with large valuable pieces did not necessarily have the same success as dealers with smalls and midrange merchandise. Steve and Lisa Fisch of Wappingers Falls, N.Y., brought both. “It is hard to make decisions on big things in this heat. Smalls are moving,” said Steve.
Joseph Fortuner of Fortuner Upholstering Co. brought large upholstered pieces as well as refinished tables, etc. to the church show. Fortuner said, “This show was not too good for me. It seemed like people were buying the white-painted furniture. I don’t carry that. There was some interest, but sales were really down. It was just too hot. Last year we sold a ton of furniture and I wished I had brought more. This year we didn’t do anything. With the heat we just couldn’t wait to get out of there.” Fortuner has been doing Cord shows for about eight years and he will be back next Fourth of July. “It is one of my favorite shows… the crowd is so nice. We love the Cord shows.”
“Nobody fainted, nobody died. I walked around with a squirt bottle squirting people,” said Cord. A volunteer ambulance corps was on hand throughout the day, but they did not need them. The air-conditioned church provided a handy oasis just steps away from the action in case anyone needed to cool down.
“I tend to attract very positive dealers,” said Cord. “The shows are fun. If they’re not fun, then they shouldn’t be doing them. We are very easy going.”
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