After the bad, good news for Stella Shows

NEW YORK – While a rash of bad news had put a definite damper on this town’s Americana Week in January for Stella Shows, the management company finally got a bit of substantive, decisive good news at the end of October: the March 15-16 Pier Antique Show will indeed go on.

“Things have turned around,” Irene Stella said. “We’re feeling a lot better around here, and I’m sure our dealers are also.”

As Antique Trader reported in its Oct. 31 issue, Stella was dealing with a potential double whammy in January, as it received the news that the January Pier show, smack dab in the middle of Americana Week festivities, was being cancelled by New York City due to construction at the piers themselves.

Injury was then added as Stella was put on notice that its location for Antiques at The Armory – its other January stalwart – was in potential jeopardy because, as Stella’s Web site says, “The 69th Regiment National Guard are deploying to Afghanistan in January or February and may need the Armory for training.”

Stella, never a promoter to sit still, promptly set about looking for an alternative location for the Armory show. The potential one-two punch, however, would be enough send any show producer reeling. On top of the good news about the March pier show, Stella also received good news about the availability of the armory.

“It’s much better this week than a two or three weeks ago,” said Stella, “when we were telling the dealers we could not have a pier in January, but we’ve heard from the Colonel about the 69th Street Regiment’s availability to go to Afghanistan in January and it turns out we will only have to remove about four booths of space on the floor.”

The New York City Economic Development Corp. was not available for comment about the March show, but it is widely speculated among antique dealers and show-goers that an outpouring of support in favor of the event convinced the EDC to honor a verbal commitment to Stella for the March show, and to sign a written contract.

“It’s great relief that the (EDC) saw fit to reward our being a longstanding, faithful customer for 25 years,” Stella said. “So we’re pleased to get the news out to dealers this week, along with contracts for the March show.”

The problems arose initially in early October when EDC president Robert Lieber informed Stella that “the New York City Economic Development Corporation has instructed Ports America, the terminal operator, that no trade shows can be accommodated at Piers 88 and 90 after November 1, 2007.”

The cancellation of the January show followed closely thereafter and the March dates were thrown into question.

It should be noted, however, that Lieber stated in his letter that “(EDC has) allowed Ports America the ability to contract shows on Pier 92 should it be available."

The piers are being reconstructed to accommodate more cruise ships. The ships do provide an immediate boost in revenue to the piers, with increased staffing and an influx of large crowds getting on and off the boats. What the EDC missed, however, and what the influx of dealer support seems to have driven home, is the larger economic impact of all the shows associated with Americana Week in January. Dealers and patrons funnel millions of dollars into the New York City economy through parking, meals, hotels, entertainment and other shopping during the week, adding to the considerable amount they already spend on antiques at the shows.

Stella also added several new dealers to its roster for the November Pier show on Pier 92, bringing its total number of dealers for the show to 510.