ROUND TOP, TEXAS – “There’s something about spending 11 days together that makes Marburger Farm Exhibitors more of a community than other shows,” says Ashley Ferguson, director of the April 1-5 spring edition of the twice-yearly mega-show in tiny Round Top, Texas. Of course, a record-breaking crowd and marvelous weather didn’t hurt either.
One of the few major antiques venues that owns its own property, the Marburger Farm Antique Show blasts into life with four days of set-up, five days of shopping and two days of packing up, twice a year. The long set-up allows exhibitors to bring in enormous loads of merchandise, stocking the booths up into the ceilings of the football field-size tents. And then those 350 dealers have time to create the over-the-top displays that delight customers. It also means that dealers get to know each other.
“We absolutely love to come to Marburger Farm,” says dealer Ben Cochrane of Faison Antiques in Greensboro, North Carolina. Selling 18th and 19th century Continental antiques, Cochrane dispatched a dozen early tables, from formal to farm tables, plus blue and white Delft pottery and 18th century Italian jug jars. “One of my favorite things about Marburger is that the dealers are like a big family. We may see each other at a flea market in France, and then here we are together in Texas. The invaluable relationships at Marburger extend to customers as well. There are lots of buyers who come and shop with us every single time.”
California artisan exhibitor Patrick Vaughn of Selina Vaughn Studios had “the best show I have ever had.” Selling handbags and totes made from vintage canvas and feedsacks, Vaughn exhibited in a new space this time. “My old neighbors all came to see my new booth, and my new neighbors all helped each other out — a silver dealer, a tribal dealer and an art dealer. We took care of each other’s booths. We had lots of repeat customers who sought us out in our new spot and lots of customer who were new to Marburger commented on how friendly the Marburger dealers were and the sense of community among dealers and shoppers.”
For Vaughn, buyers came from California, New York, Iowa, Minnesota, Louisiana, Kentucky and Texas. They ranged from retailer J. Crew to interior designer to actor John Malkovich.
Marburger Farm’s relationships with the interior design community are strengthened by the presence of the Dwell with Dignity Benefit Booth, representing Dallas designers who create functional and beautiful interiors for families recovering from homelessness. Additionally, many Marburger exhibitors have backgrounds in design. Extraordinarily decorated booths are set up like rooms, and antiques and vintage accessories are often brought with regular customers in mind.
Also coming from the West Coast, dealer Brian Curtis of the shop Brian Curtis Antiques and Fine Art in Soquel, California, commented on the dealer relationships, the knock-out booth displays and the successful mix of customers.
“Dealers at Marburger take a great effort in setting up their booths,” he said. “They have a sense of presentation that they want to create for their customers.” Who were his customers? “You have designers looking for specific things and people looking for something for their own homes. And then you have sales at Marburger to people who buy because they see something that is just so wonderful and they want it.”
Curtis sold a Renaissance Revival bed, a high-style French carved and canned bed, California art pottery, framed Italian prints, part of a collection of carved American folk art and a 1950s arcade ride kiddie car.
Long-time Marburger dealer Linda Wilder of A Wilder Place in Time had “one of my best shows ever.” She sold English ironstone, holiday and patriotic collectibles, tole trays, as well as garden and kitchen antiques. One customer took home an ironstone platter, a soup tureen and ladle and left Wilder with a blank check, in case she wanted to buy more. Sure enough, that night the customer called and added more items to her total.
“That’s unique about Marburger,” said Wilder, “She is a good regular customer. I want her
to get exactly what she wants and we trust each other.”
Tim Mashburn of the Halsey Dean Gallery in Sandersville, Georgia, reported that, “The customers at Marburger Farm are so approachable. They know what they like; they are educated. They are there to buy and they are not afraid of you.”
Halsey Dean Gallery sold Native American and cowboy art, as well as crystal chandeliers and high-end modern such as pieces by Willy Rizzo and Karl Springer, including a pair of mirrored and silver-leafed chests.
“One repeat customer brought her interior designer, who ended up buying eight Dorothy Draper light fixtures from the Cloister Hotel on Sea Island, Georgia. We had the best show we have ever had.”
The fall 2014 Marburger Farm Antique Show opens on Tuesday, September 30 and runs through Saturday, October 4. One admission is good for the week. Advance tickets and group tickets are available. Parking is free. See information on travel, maps, vendors, special events, lodging, on-site shipping and the Marburger Cafe at www.roundtop-marburger.com, or call Ashley Ferguson at 800-947-5799. Follow show news on Facebook or on the show blog at www.roundtop-marburger.com/blog.