It’s a chilly morning in Central Florida. Shoppers and dealers prepare for the opening of Renninger’s January Antique Extravaganza Weekend in Mount Dora, Fla. With overnight temperatures hovering just above the freezing point, just about everyone is bundled up and ready to go. Early buying inside the Renninger’s permanent buildings starts at 8 AM with the outdoor fields starting at 10 a.m. sharp.
Welcoming us to the show was the very busy Renninger’s Antique Center General Manager, R. Doyle Carlton. Doyle has been involved with the daily operations of the Mount Dora market since its inception in February 1984. Renninger’s Mount Dora is comprised of two markets on one property of 117 acres. In addition to the Antique Center there is also a Farmers & Flea Market. Both markets are open on weekends all year round. The weekends of the three Extravaganzas, held in November, January, and February, add an additional opening day on Friday.
On an average weekend at the Antique Center there are approximately 200 to 300 dealers selling their wares in the many indoor market buildings as well as set up on the many acres available in the sandy Florida fields. The antique dealer population explodes for the Extravaganza weekends, filling the grounds with numbers reaching 900 to 1,000 in the Antique Center grounds alone. The dealers aren’t alone, for the shoppers typically number 30,000 to 40,000 throughout the three-day events.
Doyle has been instrumental in keeping up with the ever-changing antique market and economic situations. The Antique Market is currently expanding into another building featuring the growing consignment areas with dozens of cases of quality antiques.
In addition to keeping the Antique market alive and thriving, management has introduced special event weekends including music festivals and Civil War living history exhibitions. More information on the markets, events, and dealers can be found on the Renninger’s website at www.renningers.com.
One of the fine quality dealers found in the Antique Center Buildings is Robert “Scotty” Burns, a 16-year veteran of Renninger’s Mount Dora. Scotty is a native of Scotland, immigrating here to the States in 1961. “I started out my career in antiques being a picker for other dealers decades ago. I love this business and the thrill of hunting quality merchandise for my customers.” Looking around his booth it’s obvious that his specialties are art and eclectics, featuring stunning Art Deco figurines and high-end art glass pieces. Scotty tells us that the January Extravaganza is typically his best show of the year.
A newer addition to the Antique Center Building is the Florida Artist Studios. These vendor booths are a cooperative effort of several Central Florida Artists. The Florida Art Studios has been selling here for about 4 1/2 years. M.J. Gandee is one of the studio promoters, as well as an artist selling her own original artwork. M.J. specializes in dreamy scenic Florida-themed oil paintings with many of her pieces painted at the site of the painting. M.J. has been oil painting since 2003. Some of the other artist mediums are art pottery and handmade pine needle basket art. A section of permanent dealers within the Antique Center buildings is called “The Street of Shops.”
This area is several clusters of independent antique shops in a small town setting. Antique Times is one of the many dealers here within the “streets.” Frank Sullivan and Tina Salado are the owners of this shop. Their shop is full of unique furnishings, including an original railroad ticket booth welcoming shoppers as you enter their shop. Candy shop cases, ornate mantelpieces, and a wide variety of antique home furnishings highlight the wares offered for sale and for delivery. Antique clocks and clock repair services are unique offerings of Antique Times.
We encountered shopper Sheila Majka of Cozy Cottage Antiques in Yorktown, Va. Sheila came to this show hunting small tables, Coca-Cola advertising pieces, and vintage kitchen items. She has been shopping at the Extravaganzas for less than two years. Sheila finds that the dealers she does business with here are friendly and very accommodating especially with her furniture purchases. She has already purchased two small tables to take back home with her, and only less than two hours into the show. She definitely plans to return to other Extravaganzas in the future.
Bruce and Vicki Pantti of Breezy Palm Trading Company were set up under one of the show’s outdoor pavilions. The Panttis have been in the custom designed Bakelite jewelry business for more than 20 years and have been regulars at the Renninger’s shows since 1994. Their jewelry creating processes include recreating Bakelite jewelry with old bar stock, lucite casting, and hand carving their artistic pieces. Pantti’s created Bakelite jewelry has been featured in the “Bakelite Pin Book” by Karima Pary (2001).
As the morning continued on, the weather warmed up and the shoppers began to swarm the acres of antique vendors covering the Renninger’s grounds. Ron Haring “The Victrola Man,” of Plano, Ill., is one of the show’s 10-year veteran dealers set up this weekend in the fields. Ron’s specialty is antique windup phonographs. He has been buying and selling phonographs for more then 31 years. He offers repair services for his customers and is one of the largest part suppliers of antique phonographs.
We also encountered Kathy Julian of Florida Beach Art. Kathy specializes in Florida kitsch items from the 1940s through the ‘60s. Flamingos, alligators, and beach girls are in abundance throughout the stand. Kathy has been in the antiques and collectables business for more then 20 years and has been setting up here for about six. In addition to the Florida memorabilia, Kathy carries vintage clothing and childhood items for the baby boomers.
One of the shoppers at Kathy’s booth was Ginger Havelin of Daytona, Fla. Ginger had just found a bargain on a set of children’s fairy tale books from the 1960s she had been hunting for for her grandchildren. Ginger has been scouring the Renninger’s markets for treasures for almost 20 years. Ginger is a longtime collector of nursing memorabilia. “I love this show. The dealers are great!” Ginger beamed.
Not far away in the selling fields was jewelry dealer Sharon Carter of Tiffin, Ohio. Of the 12 years Sharon has been selling jewelry and unique smalls, eight years have been spent selling at Renninger’s.
“The jewelry business is very good at Renninger’s. There are plenty of buyers coming here with a wide range of interests in the jewelry market. The largest percentage of my jewelry buyers are looking for glitzy, vintage signed rhinestone jewelry,” Sharon tells us as she directs us to a display case full of signed Weiss rhinestone jewelry as an example.
The jewelry market is very strong at the Renninger’s Extravaganzas. While we were admiring the many cases of fine and costume jewelry belonging to longtime Renninger’s dealer Marsha Gregg of Pittsburgh, we encountered shopper Joseph Perez looking into purchasing some of these fine jewelry pieces.
Joseph and Delfina Perez are owners of Church-Woman Antiques in Miami, Fla., which was established about 10 years ago. Joseph focuses his buying on Catholic antiques and collectables, such as the St. Christopher medals he is considering purchasing here at this stand. There is a unique purpose to Joseph’s business: He resells the Catholic religious items and uses the proceeds to support two Catholic Carmelite convents in Peru. This has been a very rewarding experience for him over the years, knowing his efforts are benefiting others in need.
As the day progressed on, the numbers of happy shoppers with bags full of their found treasures seemed to grow along with the temperature. Sunny skies, little cloud cover, and temperatures in the mid 60-degree range reflected the pleasant selling and buying attitude found all over the Renninger’s January Antique Extravaganza Weekend fields.
More from Antique Trader
- January 2010: Vendors, shoppers dodge freezing temps at Renninger’s
- January 2009: Chilly temperatures but hot deals greet Florida shoppers
- January 2008: Renninger’s Florida, an escape for winter-weary northerners
- Retro Road Trip: Florida: Sunshine peeking through on antique market
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