Published: August 11, 2020
Review by Greg Smith, Photos Courtesy of The Newport Show
ONLINE — The Newport Show went online July 24-30 with a digital antiques show hosted on the InCollect platform. Twenty-five dealers participated, offering nautical antiques, Americana in furniture, fine and decorative art, jewelry and much more. The show logged 2,159 visitors throughout its run with a social media reach of more than 25,000 impressions.
The show is a fundraiser for two beneficiaries, the Newport Historical Society and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Newport County. Ruth Taylor, the executive director of the Newport Historical Society, told us that while fundraising totals were not as robust as in years past when it is able to throw its annual gala, a handful of patrons stepped in to donate to the cause this year.
“Going in, we wanted the continuity and we wanted the dealers to have the opportunity to sell,” Taylor said. “We were also hoping that audiences that had never been to the event would visit the online show and be introduced to dealers and decide they’d like to visit the show in the future. We hoped as an organization that we would also reach people who didn’t know about us, and so far I would say that happened.”
Eighteen of the sellers participated in a video series of dealer discussions hosted on the Newport Historical Society’s YouTube channel where they individually spoke about the things they specialize in and were offering at the show.
A mainstay in the Newport social calendar, the annual show draws its crowd from residents and those with ties to the area, but buyers to the online show, at least from the sales reported, were spread out.
Ann Wilbanks of Find Weatherly, Stamford, Conn., logged a few sales to new customers, including marine objects, a boat hull blueprint and a pair of folding French café chairs with animal backs. Fairbanks’ store has been closed for two months and she related that online sales have kept the business floating. “Anything digital, I’m all about it,” she said. “I didn’t hear from any past customers at the show, but it was worth doing, and we have the attitude that it’s a great way to stay active with that crowd.”
Gary Sergeant of G. Sergeant Antiques, Woodbury, Conn., was in the middle of moving his gallery to a new building in Woodbury when we spoke to him. The dealer logged at least three sales at the opening of the show. “What’s beautiful about it is we’ve actually got people asking about other things that we might have or could have that they’re looking for,” he said. “That’s half the battle, getting the customer to talk to you and tell you what they need.” On the buyers, Sergeant said they were existing clients and patrons of the show. “They were regular customers, but they haven’t been in touch with me in months. They’re coming to support the show and the cause.”
Arlie Sulka of Lillian Nassau LLC, New York City, logged four sales, including two Tiffany Studios desk lamps, all to existing clients. She said the gallery had offered a mix of items across all price points. Sulka said online shows are “trending up, everybody’s recognizing that this is the way of the future and that doing business this way is going to be more of the norm.”
For many of the other sellers in the show, the sales were largely soft.
Online programming is taking on a broader role at the Newport Historical Society and may play a role in the show’s post-Covid future. Taylor said, “I am delighted we did the online show and I do think there may be some power in an online component in the future. What that will be, I can’t say, but it’s like that for all of our activities now. We’ve moved so much of our programming online and are looking around for the parts we want to keep when we get back to regularity.”
The show has booked its venue for 2021 and tentatively plans to hold the event July 23-25. For more information, www.thenewportshow.com.
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