Published: January 9, 2007
Since establishing his business in 1985, Bob Armacost has managed more than a half dozen antiques shows each year in venues across the United States. The shows are benefit events, conducted to raise funds for various charity organizations, such as churches, family and children’ service agencies, a children’s hospital, museums and preservation groups.
Armacost is hanging up his show manager’s hat, however, by selling his lineup of shows. In a transaction that took place on January 4, ownership was transferred to Bob James, a branding and public relations executive who has about 25 years of experience working with nonprofits, startups, midmarket firms and Fortune 50 companies.
In a phone interview, James said he is keeping the Armacost name and will manage all eight shows — three of which he owns, the rest of which are owned by the charity sponsor.
“I’m doing this as my second career,” said James. “I’ve been thinking about it for a number of years.”
For the past 15 years, James has specialized in exhibition sales and attendance promotion for both trade and consumer shows, consulting to more than 100 show organizers. He has worked with show organizers in a variety of industries, including apparel, automotives, aviation, computers, construction, financial services, food, furnishings, health care, manufacturing and retailing.
An antiques collector and enthusiast, James has acquainted himself with the trade by serving as a dealer’s helper at several East Coast antiques shows and, since November 2005, as apprentice to Armacost. He holds BA and MA degrees from Georgetown University, plus a graduate certificate in editing and publications from the same school.
The first event in 2007 to be presented under James’ management will be the Historic Annapolis Antiques Show January 12–14 at the Medford National Guard Armory.
Positioned as a “little jewel” of a show, the 37th Annual Historic Annapolis Antiques Show will feature 32 dealers.
One of the dealers, Newagen, Maine-based dealer Helen Meserve, who specializes in early English oak furniture and maritime paintings, returns for her eighth show in a row.
“Word’s gotten out that the show is a little jewel and several highly respected dealers have joined the roster this year because of that,” said Meserve. “The Historic Annapolis Foundation has worked hard in the past several years to energize the show. We’ve seen an upsurge in attendance, enthusiasm and —most important for us — buying. Folks have come to the show not only from Annapolis proper, but all over the region.
“Like real estate,” Meserve noted, “good antiques are still selling. The 50- to 70-year-olds are buying, mostly for second homes in Florida, South Carolina and Nantucket.”
At last January’s Annapolis event, Meserve and her husband and business partner, Hamilton, sold a Welsh dresser, a desk, a chest of drawers and several ship paintings. “Around Annapolis there are a few devoted collectors of English oak furniture and our marine paintings are always popular, although many a retired Navy man wants to explain the ship rigging to us, rather than buy.”
Show hours for this year’s show are Friday and Saturday, 11 am to 6 pm, and Sunday, 12 to 5 pm.
Special events include an exhibition, lecture-luncheon and symposium. There will be a curator’s walk on Friday and Saturday, at 11 am and 4 pm, featuring a walk through the show with Historic Annapolis Foundation’s curator Alexandra Deutsch. The exhibition is “New Acquisitions to Collections of Historic Annapolis Foundation,” the charity sponsor.
General admission is $8. The National Guard Armory is on Hudson Street, off West Street. For more information, www.ArmacostAntiquesShows.com or 202-537-1169.
Other shows that will now be managed by James include the Cincinnati (Ohio) Antiques Festival in October, the Historic Alexandria (Va.) Antiques Show in November, the Delray Beach (Fla.) Historical Society Antiques Show and the Hunt Valley (Md.) Antiques Show in February, the Naples (Fla.) Antiques Show & Sale in March and the Denver Antiques Show & Sale in April.
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