Sometimes in the fast paced world of Antique Show promotion, we are guilty of not doing a good enough job of letting customers know what our role is. Why are you paying $3-$40 to get in a show? Many customers are happy with the experience and more than willing to pay ticket prices, but others seem to bristle at the notion.
We are essentially consolidators of goods and services and sellers of entertainment. Show promoters secure a facility, recruit dealers, handle logistics, staffing, marketing and customer recruitment. We take a risk every time we run a show of it “not working” due to tepid response, weather or other market conditions. Like many other consolidators of goods and services, we need to be compensated for the service we provide. One of my favorite customer complaints is “why do you charge me to shop, I don’t pay when I go to the mall”. Every time that a consumer purchases something in a mall, the consolidator (mall owner) gets the share of revenue required to operate the facility plus a profit. In this instance, their cut is priced in the item the consumer is buying but our industry does not operate in this manner.
Our Springfield Show features as many as 2000 vendors during the May and September shows. The show is that large because of a long standing policy that allows vendors to select the number of days they wish to participate. Approximately 50% of the vendors stay for all 4 days, while other chose to participate as they see fit. We have long debated this policy internally and with discussions with many vendors over the last 15 years and have always come to the conclusion that a change to this policy would negatively impact dealer count and customer enjoyment of the show. A mandatory 4 day commitment would dramatically decrease the number of vendors who could participate, thus diminishing the size and scope of the show.
As a discussion on our Facebook page recently demonstrated, there are strong feelings on both sides of the issue. We have recently begun the practice of discounting Sunday admission, to more accurately charge for the size of the Sunday show compared to Friday and Saturday. This issue also goes back to what I spoke of previously. If a customer comes to our show on any day and finds three or four dealers that they enjoy (out of 2000) then the service we provide should save them significant amounts of time and money by reducing the cost of seeing them. The cost of driving to see these vendors in their shops, homes or malls should be much greater than the admission fees we charge.
Show promoters are also a lot like movie producers, we all start out trying to make a great movie. There are a tremendous number of things that we cannot control. If a customer comes to a show and doesn’t find anything that they want to buy or see anything that they enjoy, they will generally not be happy with the experience. This does happen, but the show producers aren’t responsible for a single item seen, bought or sold. But at the end of the day, if the show or movie is lousy, the producer is the one who takes the fall. By the way, when was the last time anyone called a movie producer to complain about ticket prices?