Antiques show promoters have to roll with the punches. Besides having to work with hundreds of exhibitors they also have to make an event smooth and enjoyable for thousands of attendees. Hold your event outside and all bets are off.
In spite of all her staff’s best efforts and simply put, an amazing array of the best vintage wares around, Mother Nature certainly rained on promoter Sally Schwartz’s May Randolph Street Market show opening in Chicago. This season opener is a big deal – the coolest merch is found here offered by the coolest sellers this side of a May Brimfield.
So Sally and her intrepid crew are gearing up for the June 25-26 market with the theme of “June is the new May!” The show is held in monthly May through September at 1340 W. Randolph Street, Chicago.
Antique Trader chatted with Sally and learned how to kick summertime weather setbacks in the kebabs and come out planning another great show:
The buzz around your market this year is nearly deafening. What new features are most popular with your guests and dealers?
“Everyone is loving the new furniture decor area with free delivery in downtown Chicago. The dealers don’t have to go blindly into Chicago traffic or navigate loading docks and freight elevators any longer. Also, we have more fun and affordable varieties of foods that make the dining and feasting experience more novel than ever. And we’ve added early outdoor buying at 8 a.m.-10 a.m. and had good traffic so far with that!”
Surrounded by so much economic gloom and doom (not to mention cloudy skies), you’ve been unwavering in your support for shows – even out door shows. What keeps you inspired?
“I think there’s just been a steady trending away from conventional retail. Given that even retail stores are trying to carry, or impersonate, vintage these days, the public is hip to this type of shopping. Buying second hand is now mainstream. As for inspiration, I try and smoke ‘Hopium,’ which I get from being around positive, forward thinking people from creative backgrounds!”
What new ways have you adopted to promote the show? Are you focusing regionally or nationally?
“I still use a combo of print and social media but really working and leveraging both. If you’re buying an ad in a Chicago publication, it really has to pop, nothing shy works. The social media is effective when we have contests for tickets and ask people to send in pictures. We’re targeting publications regionally via publicity. We also are hosting a college day at our August market, inviting college kids to pay but they can bring their parents in for free. Groupon has been seriously effective at spreading the word. We’ve sold almost 6,000 Groupons in April and had people come to our shows, pay full price, but say they “heard” about us through Groupon. Now that is sweet!”
Have you added any new staff this year? If so, who are they and what do they do?
“We have just added Shane Inman of The Inman Company and HGTV.com to the position of Interior Design Director. Shane will be on hand to help shop with customers and give tips and ideas. Also, we have also added more cops. Our security force is 100 percent Chicago cops with bulletproof vests and guns and we like them to be highly visible. Their bulk creates an imposing entrance, like walking into a hot nightclub, so everyone knows we’re having a private party and behave like gentlemen and ladies. Of course, dogs are always welcome and we expect them to act like … dogs!”
What’s your outlook for the rest of 2011?
“My outlook for the rest of 2011 is optimistic. We had brisk sales even with rain and from what we’re hearing, other shows are experiencing the same. There’s an abundance of new customers and we still get the regulars so as long as the weather plays nicely, it should be an outstanding year!”
Dealers interested in exhibiting at the June 25-26 event can learn more at Randolph Street Market Festival.
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