By Carol Sims
FARMINGTON, CONN. – The passing of the torch at the Farmington Antiques Weekend has gone smoothly for the most part, with Jenkins Management making their Farmington debut June 9 and 10. It was Farmington as usual with just a few changes.
There were hundreds of dealers who have done Farmington for years, as well as a fresh bunch of dealers who tried Farmington for the first time. The fresh faces came from other Jenkins Management shows (they own 25), especially Nashville, Tenn.
There were 580 booths, with some booths being shared by more than one antiques business. According to show manager Jon Jenkins, son of Steve and Barbara Jenkins, there were 640 dealers at Farmington. The show literally had acres of antiques to offer. To see the show thoroughly from booth to booth takes all weekend, or at least one marathon day.
New this year was the textile tent set up by Laurel Carson McKinney, a former dealer who is part of the Jenkins Management team. There were 12 textile dealers all set up in the same area, some coming from as far away as California and Michigan. They offered vintage draperies, cashmere shawls, lace, linens, quilts, hooked rugs, and other textiles, like tablecloths from the 1940s and 50s. McKinney intends build the textile section of the show into an attraction in its own right. There were also textile dealers scattered throughout the grounds.
There was a bit of an uproar over the scant amount of coffee for the dealers on Saturday morning. Somehow, the new caterers, brought by Jenkins from Nashville, Tenn., just hadn’t accounted for how caffeine deprivation could rile people up. It was a cool morning to boot. Not only did dealers crave a wake-up surge, they also wanted to get their hands around a hot cupPenn.
Early buying started at 7 am and ran until 10 am. Some dealers, like Joan Murphy of Roxie Taylor Antiques, Avon, Conn., did very well during early buying. Others, depending on where they were situated, didn’t have much activity. “Early buying was fair [for us]. We have more of a retail, rather than wholesale [dealer], following, so that is normal for us regardless of the show,” said Veronica Malchione of Malchione Sporting Antiques, Kennett Square, Penn. They specialize in sporting antiques from decoys to rods, reels, creels, and flies, etc.
“Early buying seemed to be off,” said Larry Miller of Marie Miller Antique Quilts, Dorset, Vt. It didn’t impact their show however, as they had excellent sales of furniture and quilts over the weekend.
From a buyer’s perspective, there was plenty to be had. Malchione said, “We were able to buy very well in our category, which we often are not able to do at other shows. In our opinion, there was a lot of good quality merchandise on the field.”
Jon Jenkins said that they would like to position Farmington as the place for dealers to buy – a must-shop show. One of the perks of sharing a booth at Farmington is that it gave dealers more freedom to get around and shop the show. Then there is the Brimfield factor. Because the September show will fall just before Brimfield, Jenkins Management will be encouraging Brimfield visitors and dealers to hit Farmington on their way north.
Good thing for everybody that the June show was on a to-die-for gorgeous weekend, bright and sunny with meandering clouds throwing welcome shade over the polo grounds. Show attendance was typical to good for Farmington at about 10,000, according to Jon Jenkins. Many dealers thought it was lighter than usual. Perceptions varied. It may be partially due to the fact that the Jenkinses widened the aisles by two feet this year, which gave people more room to maneuver.
By 3:30 pm on Saturday afternoon the big crowd had started to thin. By 5 pm dealers were winding up their sales, securing their tents, and looking forward to the complimentary barbecue dinner on Saturday evening. This was well attended and appreciated. The caterers seemed to redeem themselves for the morning’s transgression. (Show management promises that all food issues will be addressed before the September Farmington show.)
Sunday wasn’t as busy. Dealers really noticed the ebb and flow. Others were busy throughout the entire show. “I thought the crowd was average. We were busy in our booth right up until closing on both days,” said Malchione, who manned the booth with her husband John.
Tom Nagy of Chelsea Hill Antiques, Hampton, Conn., has been doing the Farmington show for over 20 years, since the beginning. He noted that the crowd was a bit off this year. People were still interested in all of his major pieces and by the end of the show his sales were good. Nagy credits Jenkins with doing a good job with advertising.
Richard Wagner of Sir Richard’s Antiques, Jaffrey, N.H., specializes in canes, parasols, and weapons. His sales ended up being good. He plans on returning in the spring if he can get the same space: at the end of two aisles along the back row.
Jason Komyathy of Glenbrook Antiques, Hudson, N.Y., received a lot of attention for his circa 1780 New York State mahogany linen press. Glenbrook’s sales were down from other years; however, they did sell a pair of wing back chairs. “Management was very helpful and friendly. They tried very hard,” said Komyathy.
Wallace and Shirley Cortis, Westfield, Mass., started showing in Farmington in the fall of 1985. “The buying was good. The people that were there were interested in getting something to take home with them. We had good sales this time and did better than last June. All in all it was a good show for us.” One of their more unusual sales was a set of three large piano legs that the buyer was going to use to support a custom kitchen counter.
Carole and Richard Pleines, of Acorn Bed and Breakfast/Antiques, Killingworth, Conn., have been at all the Farmington shows since its beginning. This year, the crowd bypassed their furniture and went for the smalls. The dealers were showing a distinctive spinning wheel of dark wood with ivory accents.
Malchione saw more activity at the lower price ranges, too. “The majority of our sales were in the $50 to $100 range. If we didn’t have lower-priced inventory available, we may not have had a very good show. We have a fairly large selection of higher-end Hardy, Allcocks, and Farlow rods, reel, gaffs, and line driers from England and there was little interest in them at this show. We did sell a fairly rare brass trout reel by J. Enright of Scotland to a regular collector of reels.”
Donna Scheerer of Rangeley Lakes Antiques, Rangeley, Me., said, “We haven’t seen serious buyers here for awhile in Farmington. My ‘cottage look’ at the show sold some furniture, but most of what I sold were smalls.” She looks forward to better Farmingtons in the future and will definitely be back.
Al and Penny Hadfields of A Quiet Place, Westport, Mass., had many fine toys, including Steiff giraffes from the 1960s and the ever-expressive Steiff tigers. The crowd was very interested their Native American dolls and Steiff animals, making this show the “best June sale ever, and second best Farmington” (last September was their best).
There was so much to buy at Farmington. Dora Landey of New Canaan, Conn., had tables full of blue and white Staffordshire in her display. Windsor Hollow Antiques had a nice collection of inkwells. Forgotten Furnishings brought several pairs of andirons, as well as tables and oil lamps. Steven Chatlas of Chatlas Antiques sold several antique blowtorches at a very reasonable $25.
Glimmer Glass brought some beautiful examples of purple slag glass. Tom Pepper of Eagle’s Mere Village had a great cabinet in green paint. Newell Antiques, Southford, Conn., brought a wonderful large metal toy truck.
Designs & Dreams of Syracuse, N.Y., had a truly inspirational display of vintage bath fixtures. Magoun Bros. of South Paris, Me., is known for vintage canoes and boats. They had the largest pair of snowshoes on the field. With All Due Ceremony of Elkins Park, Penn., brought a good selection of firemen’s garments and accessories.
Matt and Pam Robey of Redding, Conn., brought dozens of restored wooden trunks, painstakingly refinished and then relined with high quality textiles. They sold out of blanket chests and toolboxes. In their booth you could find a jewelry case or a stagecoach box.
All in all, the June Farmington Antiques Weekend offered up an enormous selection of rustic, country, and refined antiques, with hundreds of new and returning dealers. When September rolls around, the Jenkinses will implement some of their marketing initiatives. Jon Jenkins is expecting word of mouth to bring dealers of early Americana to Farmington to buy. “Farmington will be a show that you need to be there to buy,” said Jenkins.