John Chaski, Inc.

American Material Culture

Antiques Shows are Dead and We Killed them; Chapter 1: EARLY PACKING

John Chaski

One of the many ways in which dealers have been complicit in helping to murder antiques shows is packing up their booth early.  Before I get to ranting, one important distinction:  at Brimfield, a flea market, or similar affair, I have absolutely no problem with it.  But a show that has advertised a closing time and charged admission is a different story.

Packing early is inconsiderate of customers present and future, a point I'll circle back around to.  It's a slap in the face to the management of the show.  It's often in violation of the show contract, many of which stipulate "NO EARLY PACKING" as it has become more and more common even in the relatively short time I've been doing shows.  It's rude to other dealers who honor their commitment to be open for business until the show is closed.

As a young dealer, I take particular offense to early packing.  The message it sends to customers requires little interpretation: "You are not worth my time."  We love to pitch shows as museums without barriers.  Educational opportunities.  Come look even if you can't afford to buy.  Unless you show up on Sunday afternoon. 

Speaking of Sunday afternoon, who does stuff then?  I don't know, millennials?  Normal people?  People who may not be hardcore collectors (yet) but showed enough interest to commit a little bit of time and money to an antiques show?  Hey, those are the people who might buy something from us young dealers someday!  When a veteran dealer is packing early and telling those people they're worthless, it pisses me off.  Maybe there's a 0% chance of them buying something from that dealer.  If they leave disgusted and never visit a show again, so what.  But for me, hoping for a few more decades in the business, those people do matter.  Every. single. one. of. them.

If a dealer can't honor their commitment, they should quit the show, period.  Antiques shows are dying, and early-packing dealers are helping to kill them.