What’s next for the Atlantic City Antiques Show

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. –  As an early spring mist rolls in, the sounds of patrons waiting patiently at the gates echo into the main hall. As the doors swing open, the shine of polish on furniture, the sparkle of jewelry and memories of childhood toys are sure signs they have found the New Atlantic City Antiques Show.

Change has never been easy, but Allison Kohler and her staff at JMK Productions have done this with the launch of the Atlantic City Antiques Show March 27-28. Kohler’s show fills the void created when F+W Media, Inc., canceled the 24-year-old Atlantique City Antiques Show, citing economic uncertainty. [F+W Media also publishes Antique Trader magazine. — Editor]

Kohler, a second generation promoter, was “very happy with the turnout for the show.” She felt there was a nice showing from the dealers and got a lot of good feedback from the attendees. Most customers were happy the show was back and saw the quality of merchandise was still there. The new approach of grouping dealers according to specialty seemed to make a lot of customers very happy. The show attendance was in excess of 5,000 busy shoppers searching for unique treasures from the over 250 dealers showcasing their wares.

Variety and quality of merchandise is one of the main reasons 15-year veteran shopper Robert Smith of Shippensburg, Pa., keeps coming. Smith is a serious sand pail and vintage beach toy collector. “The show may be smaller than in years past, but there’s some really great stuff here, definitely quality over quantity!”

From across the pond came first time shopper Adam Wide of London, England. He was drawn to the show on the advice of one of the show’s many jewelry dealers. Adam said he was “pleased in the diversity of quality antiques and collectibles featured at the show.” Wide is a Christmas tree jewelry buyer with over 3,500 sparkling treasures in his collection and counting. He is definitely planning to return to the states for the next show.

We encountered another long time shopper, Thomas Lyons of North Jersey. Thomas has been coming to the Atlantique City shows for more than 12 years. He focuses his purchasing on whistles for his ever-growing collection. He has always looked forward to the show and was happy to find a lot of familiar dealer faces this year, including ones from England. Thomas enjoys searching for whistles, anvils, and other smalls through the hundreds of table top displays found at the show. Thomas also noted that he felt that the quality dealers keep coming back to the show even with the change in promotion companies.

Joann Cooper of Drums, Pa., loves the vintage jewelry and the vintage kitchenware she finds at the show. “I always get and education on antiques every time I come to this show,” she said.

Shoppers, Joyce Long and daughter Hillary, both of Mechanicsburg, Pa., had missed the last four or five shows after being regulars for more than 20 years and wanted to see what changes were being made. Joyce is a jewelry and primitive buyer and her daughter Hillary is always looking for vintage sand pails. “We found a wonderful variety of antiques!”

Joyce raved and noted that most all dealers were very pleasant and helpful as compared to other shows they regularly attend.

“This show was always fun and this new show’s format looks to be continuing the tradition,” Joyce Long said.

Returning dealers included Bob Adams and his son Sterling of You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet Antiques from New Haven, Conn. They specialize in vintage carnival and arcade games and related unique “fun” memorabilia from the 20th century. Bob was pleased with the way the show was going. He was impressed by the cleanliness and prompt attention to dealer requests as well as the professionalism shown by Allison and the JMK staff towards the dealers and his customers.

Bob told us that he “wouldn’t be surprised if the show doubles in size next year” based on the feedback he was getting from fellow dealers and shopping dealers in attendance. Bob added, “People respond to quality. Blue chip brings the people in.”

Ziggy and Roberta Zygarlowski of Roberta’s Dollhouse, Patterson, N.J., were also dealers in attendance at the show. They have five years of showing at Atlantique City under their belt. “This was a fantastic show. We had lots of new customers come find us from hearing about us in articles they saw in Antique Doll Collector Magazine and Doll News,” where they were featured. “This show is such easy set up with the convenient drive in. This is a showman’s ideal place. If all shows were like this it would be great!” Ziggy said.

They are planning to be set up at the next show as well. Maxx (the couple’s friendly dealer dog) had no comment, but rolled over for a belly rub.

All three plan to return next year when the show will be a week earlier, March 19-20, 2011. ?

Rich Spidel is a photographer and dealer, along with his wife, Jean, from Mechanicsburg, Pa. He previously reported on the Brimfield Antique Shows.

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