When we first started in the antiques business, each February there was a veritable Lalapalooza of antiques in Nashville. Heart of Country, Tailgate, and Music Valley...three great shows, in essentially one location, consisting of hundreds of dealers and loads of great stuff. And it always involved a couple of nights at the Opryland Resort, which is, frankly, a real hoot. Now, however, the Nashville shows take place over two weekends and now on opposite sides of town. So, is the magic gone?
Well, certainly Nashville in February isn't quite the "experience" that it use to be. The bright lights of Heart and the bedroom dealing (literally) of Tailgate are still there, but it's a very different set of shows.
First up were the original Jenkins shows, Tailgate and Music Valley, now both at the state fairgrounds. Present were a strong group of dealers, including a number of dealers who had immigrated from the Heart show, and they did bring lots of good stuff. And the good news...many dealers were making sales. Fellow Ohioans David and Carol Swope reported the sale of not one, but three drop-leaf tables (if you've been to an auction recently, you've probably noticed that drop-leaf tables are hard to give away). The healthy number of red stickers proved a happy reminder that things are NOT as bad as the 24/7 barage of doom-and-gloom news would have you believe.
Two weeks later, it was time for Heart of Country, as well as Fiddlers, a new show attempting to take the place of Tailgate (formerly held at the Fiddlers Inn). Honestly, we weren't expecting much...Heart had about 50 dealers and Fiddlers not too many more. Though much smaller, the quality of Heart was as good as any other year, and it included many new faces, as well as some old friends. One long-time Heart dealer reported more sales than ever before. Granted, he brought different and less expensive antiques than he is known for, but you can't argue with sales! He seemed to prove once again that the dealers who are adaptive and economy friendly are still selling (in other words, if you are trying to cling to your 1998 business model, you are probably not enjoying life in the trade these days).
Probably the highlight was our discovery of a rare eastern Ohio watercolor fraktur in the booth of a couple of Virginia collectors. When we spied it from across the floor, it had no price. The booth was staffed by show promoter Pat Garthoeffner, who was busy with her own booth. When we finally connected, it was discovered that we had forgotten our checkbook! However, despite a few additional setbacks, Pat worked did what it took to make the sale. Thanks! We appreciate it!
Hollie's highlight was probably taking this photograph of Andrew on Delta Island in Opryland.
Yes, we miss the old Nashville weekend with all three shows at the same time and place, but the new version, I'm sure, will grow on us. Today's market is about doing adapting...doing what it takes to get the attention of the collectors even when the economy, and other factors, are not cooperative.
Next up....Ohio Country in early April, followed by Fairhaven and Richmond in June.