Just completed the annual pilgrimage to Antiques Week In New Hampshire, followed by the Union, Maine show. I will try to cover them in order, but good luck with that.
1. Alexander the Great's Army travelled lighter than we do. Six adults plus one three year old for 10 days- yikes.
2. Sunday at Northeast Auctions provided some interesting observations. While most of the usual suspects were in attendance, many dealers seemed to be active buying for inventory. Prices on Sunday were by report not as high as the Friday or Saturday sessions. I saw more than a few smiles from the audience after winning bids.
3. Monday at the Barn Star Pickers Market- decent crowd and reports from dealers all over the map. Great looking show as usual with a few notable additions among participants.
4. Tuesday at Nan Gurley's Deerfield Show- spent the better part of the day at the most relaxed of the New Hampshire shows. If you haven't had a chance to attend, the ambiance and dealer mix make this one a favorite. Humidity thinned out the crowd in the afternoon, but dealer reports were good.
5. Wednesday- Midweek at Manchester- Frank Gaglio's second show which features 112 great dealers. Although a few high end dealers were not there, the show remained a visual masterpiece. Also noticed a few exhibitor's offering a wider range of items, not so firmly entrenched in high end as the past. Those adjustments were much appreciated.
6. Wednesday- Start of Manchester. New venue- the show returned to where it was started, the JFK ice rink and added air conditioning. Only got a quick glimpse on the second afternoon of the show, but a good collection of professional dealers with nice presentation value.
7. Thursday- New Hampshire dealer's show- the one that started it all. From reports, good dealer sales and as always as beautiful show. Wished I could have spent more time, but going in late on Thursday seems the only way to really talk to dealers. Show seemed to exceed most expectations.
8. Friday- pack up the fam and off to Maine. Arrive late afternoon for the end of Union early buying. This show has the best food in the country- bar none. The seafood and ethnic offerings make this a food lovers/antique paradise. Got good/mixed response from dealers. Crowd strong, but as usual not buying quite enough to make everyone happy.
As a general observation, these shows seemed to fall in the pattern that we have been seeing lately- some optimism, sales slightly exceeding realistic expectations. Dealer sales are still below what I would call a 5 year average level and clearly not consistent enough. Running into a lot of extremes- dealers selling great next to someone struggling. Did see a lot of encouraging signs, more affordable items at the higher end shows and prices adjusted to tempt customers. Crowds appeared to be strong at most venues, with the NHADA show and Union both appearing strong. Still getting the sense customers are hesitant to pull the trigger. Overall- encouraged but we still have a long way to go. At the New Hampshire shows, I also noticed an almost complete lack of shoppers under 40- this problem only seems to be getting worse, and it's time to start to get to work on it.