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Counting up the reasons for the success of the Indy Antique Advertising Show

INDIANAPOLIS — Once again, the Grand Daddy of vintage advertising shows demonstrated its splendor. The March 2014 Indy Antique Advertising Show had its biggest dealer count in 12 years, with dealers from 28 states across the nation showing their wares.
Large crowds followed suit and did not disappoint the dealers with their buying activity. Customers and dealers were happy with their outcome. With other shows shrinking, why is it that the Indy Antique Advertising Show is growing? In a candid interview with the promoters, Bruce and Donna Weir, they simply said, “We are blessed. We get to work in a great industry with great people.”
The show has had a dramatic 40 percent growth in dealer participation since the Weirs became promoters in 2010. New customers are finding the show, and previous customers are returning to find a fresh, fun atmosphere. This March customers came from as far as Canada, The Netherlands and Australia.
The Weirs attribute their success to: “Hard work, a commitment to invest the finances and well … a whole combination of things,” said Donna. Here are their Top 10 things they feel have led to their success.
Our decisions are not based upon financial; they are based upon what is right. We believe that when you do the right thing for the right reason, success follows. It’s a simple philosophy with sometimes difficult decisions and follow-through. One of the first changes we made was to add music. While this was definitely a lost leader, the positive effect on the show’s atmosphere was dramatic. The first time, we had people dancing in the aisles!
We try to provide the best customer service we can. For us, we have two types of customers – the dealers and the public. We have to balance the needs/wants of both. Like a pendulum on a clock, it must swing both ways to work. For example, we completed both dealer and customer surveys before major changes to the show were made. Their feedback was vital to ensure the business decisions were thoroughly thought out.
Being dealers ourselves, we travel from East to West Coast each year setting up at a variety of shows, not just those within our niche. It keeps up current on the marketplace and we learn what works at other shows. It’s a great opportunity to build relationships with our dealers outside the show.
The show is current with items that are hot in the marketplace. TV reality shows like the American Pickers have increased the national attention on this type of collectibles as well as shows on decorating HIS space.
Magazines like Antique Trader have supported us by giving us good value for our money spent and sending reporters to cover the show. Free coverage is always helpful! This March, we had a live TV remote during the morning show on Channel 8 WISH TV in Indianapolis.
The marketing has been completely revamped with a new logo. All advertising is in color and now includes pictures of the types of things you would typically see at this show. People love pictures! On a table full of brochures, ours stands out.
We could not have grown without the support of our dealers. They see how hard we have worked to build the show and they appreciate our efforts. It’s just basic leadership; when you see the boss working hard, you do, too. It does help that we have a dealer referral program where the referring and new dealer get a discount on their booth rent. The dealers benefit and the show benefits.
The website is kept up-to-date. It doesn’t go months before new information is posted.
During the show, we are present on the show floor, rather than in the office. We actively engage with our dealers and customers throughout the show.
The show remains true to real vintage items, not fantasy or reproductions. Once we had a new dealer show up with reproductions after he had assured us the items were vintage. We asked him to pack up and issued a refund. We gave the extra space to adjoining dealers to expand their booths (for free) to fill in the gap. We did not want the customers to question the empty floor space nor open Pandora’s Box. This takes us back to No. 1 – do the right thing for the right reason and success follows.
The next show for the Indy Antique Advertising Show is September 26-27, 2014, at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis. Dealer and customer information can be found at or by calling Bruce at 217-821-1294. ■