Published: July 11, 2017
Review and Photos by Rick Russack
WELLS, MAINE – The event: Goosefare Promotions’ Wells Antiques Show. The place: Loudholm Farm on the Wells Reserve. The day: Sunday, June 25. Weather: perfect. The dealers: about 75. The merchandise: varied, good quality and priced right. The crowd: huge. The result: a perfect show.
It is not often that nearly all dealers at a show say they are having a good result, but that is what was being said an hour or so after opening. Furniture was being carted off to the parking area, and many shoppers were carrying packages. The weather was in the mid-80s, the sky was blue, there was a light breeze and many people lingered with friends. The Wells Reserve has miles of hiking trails, barrier dunes, tidal pools and beaches. Several show attendees said that they had explored the trails and beach – or were planning to.
On the field, there were numerous weathervanes, a lot of painted country furniture and accessories, a wide selection of nautical antiques, toys, decoys, early ceramics, art glass, jewelry, prints, hooked rugs, folk art, Staffordshire figures and much more. There were several outstanding items, including a 39-by-52-inch Grenfell rug with mallards in flight over a marsh. Interiors With Provenance, Granite Point, Maine, priced it at $4,950. Bob Foley, a Gray, Maine, dealer, had an unusual upholstered horn chair, but it was made from elk or deer antlers, not cow horn, as most are. He was asking $595 and swore it was comfortable.
Butch Berdan and Tom Jewett, Newcastle, Maine, had a good black cloth doll with old clothes and a large straw hat, for which they were asking $950. They also had an early boy doll with a carved head. Harold Cole and Bettina Krainin, Woodbury, Conn., and Wiscasset, Maine, offered several weathervanes and an exceptional English print depicting Fair Lawn in the County of Lincoln. Jeff Cherry and Cass Hogan, Cherry Gallery, Damariscotta, Maine, showed a 10-foot-long harvest table. Mario Pollo, Bearsville, N.Y., brought some French chairs, with prices starting at $450 a pair, and a three-piece set of garden furniture, priced at $3,500. Brian Cullity, Sagamore, Mass., had three pieces of early English salt-glazed ceramics, one of which was an exceptionally well-molded pierced edge bowl, priced at $375.
About an hour into the show, Hilary Nolan, Falmouth, Mass., said that he had sold several items, including a good Nantucket basket, a Windsor chair, a butter churn, a quilt and more. He termed it “a bang-up show” and said he was selling to both dealers and retail buyers. Barbara Adams of South Yarmouth, Mass., reported that she and husband Charlie had made several sales. “We’ve had a number of sales,” she said. “Nautical items were popular – the kind of things a person could use to decorate their home. A ship model shadow box, a ship painting – things like that. And it was nice to see that some of the sales were to younger buyers.” Mike and Lucinda Seward, Pittsford, Vt., sold several pieces of jewelry, a pair of basalt silhouettes and an assortment of steam toys.
From the number of packages being carried by attendees, one would assume that many other dealers were also selling nicely.
John and Liz DeSimone have been running antiques shows since 1972 and have seen many changes in their business. John discussed the overall business with Antiques and The Arts Weekly, noting, “Our business has experienced the same changes that the rest of our industry has experienced. We’re still recovering from the economic downturn that started about 2008 and the changes that it brought to the business. That downturn meant that many middle-class shoppers had less money to spend and that really impacted dealers at our shows. Many who had just been getting started in the business weren’t able to survive, and one result that we’re seeing today is a shortage of active ‘younger’ dealers. If you look around the show today, you’ll see that many, maybe most, of the dealers are over 65,” he continued. “I know there are three exhibitors here today that are in their 90s. That presents challenges to those of us running shows. I know more than 20 dealers who had done our shows for years that have died in the last three years.
“From visiting other shows and seeing what’s going on, I know there are younger dealers,” John continued. “Many deal in Midcentury Modern design and many deal in various types of collectibles. Our shows focus on Americana, so we will have to broaden our exhibitor base to include those dealers. That goes hand-in-hand with the need to attract a younger generation of buyers and we’re working on that. We’ve started using social media, especially Facebook, to bring younger buyers into our shows. That worked well for us in our spring show in Hingham. We saw numerous attendees with baby strollers, and many with teenagers. Facebook allows us to geographically pinpoint our advertising to users within a 50-mile radius of the show and also allows us to select the income bracket we’d like to attract. Instagram will probably be next for us.
“We have always advertised extensively in local newspapers, along with the trade papers. For this show, we’ve advertised as far away as Boston and Manchester, along with all the local papers. We know this brings buyers to the shows. The other thing that we know works, especially for our summer shows in tourist areas like Maine, is the signage on the roads near the shows. People out driving around, looking for something to do, see the signs, and say, ‘Let’s go to the antiques show.’ We also send a lot of emails to a mailing list that we’ve developed over the years. So we’re continuing to do what has worked for us in the past and we’re learning how to utilize the current technologies. I guess we’re evolving.”
Goosefare has three more shows scheduled in Maine this summer. John and Liz also operate a large antiques shop on Route 1 in Wells. For more information, 207-646-0505 or www.goosefareantiques.com.
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