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Ron & Donna Miller - Publishers

Talking Shop...

Do you love attending antique shows? If so, you can’t help but notice that your opportunities have seriously dwindled. It is a sad fact that the promoters of more and more antique shows are just deciding to call it quits. (To simplify, I’m including in the phrase “antique shows,” collector markets, flea markets, junk shows, swap meet, etc. – whatever name is used to entice collectors to come, see and buy.)

To give you specific numbers, I can go back to 2003, the year I first started tracking how many antique shows advertised in Old Stuff. In that year, in this issue, there were 44 different shows that advertised (the peak that year was in the summer issue when there were 51.) Ten years later, in 2013, the number had dwindled to 30. Last year there were 25. This year the number is down to 20.
Now, of course, I recognize that some of antique events are taking place without advertising in Old Stuff. But after 40 years of being the recognized paper for highlighting antique and collectible activities in the Pacific Northwest, most shows do tend to advertise here.

Why have so many shows disappeared? There are probably multiple reasons. To start with, the promoters have found it difficult to find enough dealers to make it worthwhile. It’s a lot of work to put on an antique show, and considerable cost is involved. Much of that cost is covered by the fees dealers pay for their spaces. So if promoters can’t find enough dealers, it becomes cost prohibitive to put on the show.

And why aren’t there enough dealers? Well, the dealers have to come up with that money to pay for their spaces. And they get that money by making sales to customers. If the customers don’t come and buy, it’s not worth the dealers’ time and energy. (Speaking of energy, if you haven’t already done so, imagine what is involved in hauling in a space full of merchandise, setting it up for sale, and then packing it all up again in a 1-4 day time span. That’s hard physical labor!)

So I guess the bottom line for the demise of so many shows is a lack of customer interest. And that’s a whole discussion in itself. My theory, which I presented in a column a few issues ago, is that the excitement has gone out of collecting. The thrill of the hunt, thanks mainly to the internet, has disappeared to a large extent.

Meanwhile, let’s support the remaining events. These are the survivors! Take a look at the listings on this page and attend some or all of them.

Donna Miller

Publisher Loses On-Going
Battle With Moss

Ron Miller, PublisherI came to the office this morning to find my dahlias lost to the weather. They were easily finished as the temperature had reached 24 or so degrees here in Oregon. Why is it that my beautiful dahlias succumb and the moss that shows up everywhere at this time of year survives?
Why doesn’t moss freeze?

It would save a lot of time and money if that pervasive green stuff, collecting on our driveway, our roof and underneath our grass would just freeze every year like most of the beautiful flowers.

Does the Northwest really need moss?

I know I can’t really get away with translating my dislike of moss into something intelligent to say about the antique business, but one of the prerogatives of a once-in-a-while columnist is he gets to do it anyway.

I could, in fact, ask myself why the antique and collectible business seems to be in a frozen state now. It might be because it’s gotten moss-bound. It could be getting “long in the tooth” but collecting stuff has been around for centuries, so that probably isn’t the reason. It may be, as Donna pointed out in her column, the internet changed the antique business by eliminating much of the fun factor.

Well, I can make a connection here. To my way of thinking there isn’t anything fun about moss.

And I don’t think I can do anything about freezing the moss or making a change in this industry we love, so, like my wife tells me, ‘live with it!”

We an do that by supporting malls, shows dealers, and shops by encouraging them anyway we can with our presence, our money and our time. I guarantee you that the time you spend with your moss would be much more fun spent at the next antique show.

Our most recent trip was to Florida and we didn’t have a lot of opportunity to ‘antique,” primarily because we traveled as airplane-light as we could. There is just so little room for bringing extra things home, and there is always the chance that a prized purchase gets unwrapped by a zealous inspector and left vulnerable.

We did enjoy ourselves, of course, visiting Truman’s Little White House and Hemingway’s collection of 6-toed cats. We also learned about hogfish, a very tasty specialty of one of the many restaurants in Key West. I’ll encourage you to look up hogfish on the internet to see what it looks like and where it’s found. It tastes a great deal better than it looks.

Meanwhile, I’m giving up on the idea of freezing moss and see if I can locate on the web any creatures, with our without toes, that could nibble away my moss.

Ron Miller


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