Published: October 26, 2021
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Photos Courtesy Chicago Suburban Antiques Dealers Association
ONLINE – The 47th annual Fall Fox Valley Antiques Show, in its second year as an online-only format, took place October 16-17 and was presented as it usually is by the Chicago Suburban Antiques Dealers Association (CSADA). The show featured 46 dealers offering a total of 998 items; of that number, 209 items – nearly 21 percent – had been marked as “Sold” or “Reserved.” Almost 4,500 visitors went to the website over the two days the show was open, from 48 states; a few dealers reported sales to buyers outside of the United States.
This edition was a little smaller than the previous online Fall Fox Valley show, conducted in October 2020, when the only shows available to dealers were online events. That’s to be expected when increasingly more live/in-person shows are taking place. A statistic not to be ignored is the percentage of sold lots was significantly higher in this edition than in the 2020 fall show, when only 15 percent of all works offered sold.
The online edition welcomed a dozen dealers who were either participating in a Fox Valley show for the first time, or who had not participated in any show produced by Getman. New exhibitors hailed from Georgia, John R. Joiner Antiques; Illinois, Lori Mesa Antiques & Fine Jewelry and Munday Antiques; Indiana, Jacque Bradford; Maine, Cherry Gallery; Nebraska, Gallery 76 Americana; New Mexico, Turkey Mountain Traders; Pennsylvania, JK Nevin Antiques and Phillips & Durkin Antiques; South Carolina, Kathleen Staples; and Canada, Chic Shack Antiques, Steven M. Blevins/Belmore Heritage Antiques.
Like the previous shows Getman has produced, each dealer was given the option of adding three items to their virtual booth on the second morning; that strategy has encouraged visitors to “return” to the show and in many cases, adding new items resulted in sales. Nearly all dealers had marked at least one item as sold by the time the show’s website went offline.
Show co-chair and CSADA president Debbie McArdle, the owner of Iron Horse Antiques, said she and her fellow show organizers were looking at the competition of live shows and considering the possibility of moving a future Fox Valley online show to midweek, making it accessible to both dealers and shoppers.
“I sold really well,” she said, speaking with Antiques & The Arts Weekly after the show closed. “I made some sales to new customers and had inquiries from many customers who missed out on something they wanted.”
Sales from her booth included several pieces of stoneware, a boar-form butcher’s advertising trade sign, a watercolor of a farmstead, a free-blown American chestnut bottle and a cutlery tray or box in old chrome yellow over green paint.
McArdle’s fellow co-chair and CSADA secretary Barb Lemme, Liberty Tree Antiques, also had a good show. She reported sales from beginning to end, concluding her last sale five minutes before the website went offline. She noted sales to attendees from nine states, split equally between new and existing clients. A folk art portrait attributed to Joseph Davis, a Civil War-era patriotic painting, some stoneware, a few Santas, a Hudson River view of West Point and a green-painted Shaker berry bucket were among the things the Glen Ellyn, Ill., dealer will be sending to new homes.
Participating in online shows allows dealers to multitask. David and Jane Thompson also exhibited in an online show on Getman’s platform hosted by the Daguerreian Society and shopped two live shows on Sunday. They made numerous sales throughout the show.
“We have always loved the Fox Valley show. Even though in-person shows are back, there is still a great niche for online shows. We especially like the reach that the online shows have, allowing us to connect with new customers as well as reconnect with loyal customers who always attended Fox Valley in person. We ‘meet’ new customers every time we do it. This time we sold to customers in Quebec, Canada; Alabama; Pennsylvania; New York; Wisconsin; Ohio; Illinois; Vermont; and Indiana.
Ed and Anita Holden showed in the Spring Fox Valley online show and have participated in other shows on Getman’s platform; Ed considers the platform to be “The Best in the business.” The Holdens, who split their time between Sherman, Conn., and Naples, Fla., took two booths, one selling general Americana, the other selling ice fishing decoys. Business in both booths was brisk, and Holden reported about half of the items shown sold.
“We sold a good variety of items, and the decoys did particularly well. Overall, for us, it was not as strong as the spring event but quite satisfactory. The one real value of the online show is its extended geographical customer reach. We sold to customers coast to coast and North to South. This does not happen at live shows.” Holden noted that it was important for dealers to be selective with what they bring, keeping to a reasonable price range, using good descriptions and numerous clear photos. In his closing comments via email, he said, “I do hope the online show can continue to develop, and dealers will have the patience to develop along with them so they can become a successful venue for profitable results.”
John and Jan Maggs offered an interesting selection of early English oak furniture and early jewelry, making several sales in both categories, large and small. They have done all three online Fox Valley shows, which they said have “all been positive for us. This weekend we sold 16 pieces, three of which were not in our Fox Valley booth but were discovered on our website by a new customer who found us at the show and then went to explore our website. Two other pieces in our booth sold to new customers, the rest to buyers who already knew us.”
The Maggs also noted that “the ‘regulars’ who bought from us at the show would probably never have driven to Illinois, and in our experience it’s the regulars who always made the difference in live shows, too.”
If there was a prize for “Furthest Sale,” it would undoubtedly go to Joe Lodge, who sold a Nineteenth Century American painted box to a new customer in Israel. In addition to that, the Pennsylvania dealer sold to two buyers in California. In total, he closed the deal on seven pieces and will be adding the Spring 2022 Fox Valley show to the other Fox Valley shows, all of which he has participated in.
It was serendipity that Ron Bassin of A Bird In Hand Antiques offered some circa 1840 window stops, including some with frogs. He received a call from a client, who he had never worked with before, who had an early Nineteenth Century house in Michigan and who was in need of some to prop the windows open.
“They were so ecstatic that I had them, they bought them all.”
One of the dealers making their debut at Fox Valley was Karine Belzile, a second-generation French Canadian antique dealer who said it was a privilege to participate. She would not have been able to participate in any live shows in the United States, as crossing borders with antiques is both difficult and costly. She sold nine things, including two trade signs, some painted sap buckets, a gray-painted pantry box and a tramp art frame in old green paint, among other things. Her sales were to three existing customers, two from Canada, the other from the United States, and happily reported six new clients, five in the United States and one in Canada.
Jeff Cherry and Kass Hogan, Cherry Gallery, Damariscotta, Maine, were also showing at Fox Valley for the first time. By the time the show closed, they had a sold a gameboard, a model of a house and an articulated man, with a reserve on an Arts and Crafts console. Indianapolis, Ind., dealer Jacque Bradford transacted a Shaker thread caddy and a painted Native American basket.
Also participating for the first time at Fox Valley was Liz McElroy, who closed the deal on a few things, including a German papier mache doll and a linsey woolsey coverlet.
Newnan, Ga., dealers John and Wanda Joiner, John R. Joiner Antiques marked as sold a fire bucket, stoneware, a glass flask and a salesman’s sample ladder. It was their first Getman show and they were happy afterwards.
“We are very pleased with the show. (It’s an) easy way to sell! We made several contacts that we didn’t have and picked up three new customers. We typically do shows in Ohio, Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee and around the South. We are trying to avoid the travel associated with in-person shows and we are doing more online sales. This works great for us.”
Another new exhibitor from the South was Greenville, S.C., dealer Kathleen Staples, who enjoyed several sales, including a 1755 indenture of apprenticeship for two young girls in Richmond, Va. Following up after the show, she reported “the show was successful for me both in terms of sales and increasing my customer base. In general, I was very impressed by the variety and caliber of the items sold by the various dealers.”
Bill Subjack of Neverbird Antiques, Surry, Va., who has done Fox Valley shows previously, sold a miniature Nineteenth Century split oak bentwood basket that was likely made in southwestern Virginia. It measured just 1-1/8 inches tall, 2 inches long and 1½ inches wide and in very good condition.
“We have done a couple shows with this group and have had a good experience each time,” said Wiscasset, Maine, dealer Brad Ketelhut. “The setup is simple and straightforward, and we have had sales each time. For this show, we had sales to a new client in the United States, a new client in Canada, and repeat sales to a client whom we had met and sold to at one of their previous virtual shows. Items we sold ranged from a couple hundred to a couple thousand. One of the pieces that we sold was a special collector’s edition of John Muir’s My First Summer in the Sierra in a wood presentation box and with a separate folio of engravings. I find these virtual shows to be an excellent opportunity to meet new clients and people are increasingly comfortable purchasing art and antiques online – as with most other goods. While we all miss the camaraderie that comes with the traditional in-person show, these virtual shows will continue to be a part of business and are here to stay. We will continue to participate in these shows and will look forward to when it is in person once again.”
Arlene Eskilson sold throughout the weekend, notably to new clients. Her Christmas ornaments and Bakelite horse pins were popular, and she said she could have sold one of them twice.
Best sellers for Virginia Larsen, Sign of the Whale Antiques, were painted smalls and “anything to do with cats!” Of the latter, the Glen Ellyn dealer sold a framed cat print, a Victorian cat painting and a painting of cats playing chess.
“The Fox Valley online show appeared to be successful,” Jane Langol remarked from Medina, Ohio. “I sold three items out of 18 items submitted. The event is still a great way to sell. I sold to a New Jersey customer who would never have driven to the Fox Valley live show in Illinois. The platform is the easiest to manage and I am glad that I was able to feel some modest success from my sales.”
While Jean Tudhope thought this version of the Fox Valley show was a bit quieter than previous ones she’s participated in, she had several sales to new customers and looks forward to doing more online shows in the future. She particularly likes having “bonus” items listed on the second day of the show, which she described as being “like a whole new show.”
By now, Donna Kmetz has participated in three Fox Valley events. She likes Getman’s platform and shared her comments via email after the show closed.
“The show maintains the personal feel of a quality volunteer show, and I appreciate this. The show also has a strong country bias, yet I have found interest in fine art from new customers, making it worthwhile. This October was a particular challenge coming right on the heels of Rhinebeck, making it hard to predict available inventory. I don’t have big plans for online shows in the future, still preferring live, but I’m likely to stay with Fox Valley in 2022.”
The Spring Fox Valley online show will take place in March, dates TBD.
For additional information, www.csada.com.
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