WELLESLEY, Mass. – Antiques at Elm Bank Estate opened to what show producer Marvin Getman of New England Antique Shows claimed to be his strongest opening in 25 years.
Antiques at Elm Bank Estate, a new antique show featuring 150 dealers, was held over the weekend of July 29-30 on the grounds of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society in Wellesley. Despite sweltering temperatures, the show opened to what show producer Marvin Getman of New England Antique Shows claimed to be his strongest opening in 25 years.
“It was close to 100 degrees, so to draw over 3,000 people on Saturday alone was phenomenal,” he said. “Dealers couldn’t believe it – it continued all day. There were a lot of young people, which was very refreshing. There were over 2,000 on Sunday, a total of 5,300 for the weekend. I’ve been hearing that business hasn’t been great – I’ve been to other shows and I can see that attendance is down, so it’s refreshing to see the amount of activity that I saw.”
When Getman was looking for a venue for a summer outdoor show to round out his calendar, which includes indoor shows in the fall and winter, he discovered Elm Bank, home of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society. He realized that, with its historic buildings and lush gardens, it was the perfect location for an antique show. Preparations to launch the event began 15 months ago. “It’s the most difficult undertaking I’ve ever had,” he said of his first venture into outdoor shows.
The site was not rectangular, requiring precise measuring of the grounds for tent placement. The society agreed to open a permanent building located on the site, the Cheney-Baltzell Manor House, which had been locked for nearly 20 years and in need of extensive cleaning.
With his plans in place, Getman marketed the show to dealers with online surveys, to query interest in an outdoor show in the area. “Wellesley is an affluent community surrounded by more affluent communities – I suspected they’d like that,” he said. He held three open houses so dealers could inspect the manor house and confirm their willingness to set up there.
Getman relied on a strong advertising campaign through print, radio, Internet and mail to complete the company’s mission, which perennially has been to bring high-quality antique shows to the public, in easily accessible facilities. “My advertising, other than trade, is geared to a retail clientele, people who want to decorate. I go after seasoned collectors, new collectors and people who want antiques to decorate,” he said.
Getman attributes this preliminary work and the venue, to the success of this show, and said the end result of his planning far exceeded his vision for the property. “Apparently the site, and the way I portrayed the site, led to a lot of curiosity that helped bring in a different clientele,” he said. “I knew the regulars would come. The naysayers would say every one of these affluent towns goes away for the summer. If that’s the case, I can’t imagine what would have happened if they were all home.”
Early accounts from exhibitors indicated a positive response to the show, despite the heat:
• “One of the very encouraging things to us is that we were seeing a lot of younger people, and that has not been the case at most shows for some time now.” – Sandie Fowler
• “You certainly did your job in getting out the crowd.” – Rick Bevilacqua, Essex Antiquarians
• “The potential was there for good clientele. I will sign up for the next one anytime.” – Gloria Bushman
• “We thought it was very successful, and would love to do it again next year” – David Weidner & Jared Cilley, Dark Flowers Antiques
Getman has been in the show promotion business for 25 years and says if dealers do well at a show, he will stick with it even if it is not initially a financial success. “Without the dealers, there is no show. I pride myself in attracting dealers who will do business and complement my show, both in terms of quality and display.” His impression of the Wellesley show was extremely positive and that attendees “loved it.”
Getman said plans are already in the works for another new show, to debut on March 31 and April 1 – a major show in downtown Boston at the Bayside Exposition Center. The event will be three shows in one, featuring general antiques, an antiquarian book and ephemera show, and an antique textile and vintage fashion show. “The three elements will be converging in one building. I’ll be creating an entity called Boston Antiques Weekend.” Preliminary surveys are already completed, and according to Getman, people feel Boston is ready for a big show. For more information, call 781-862-4039 or log on to www.neantiqueshows.com.