NHADA Annual Show: There’s No Show Like This Show Anywhere in America

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Manchester, New Hampshire

Some thoughts came to me about covering the 56th New Hampshire Antiques Dealers Association Show this year. It was the first show I did, back when I became a full-time employee for Maine Antique Digest 30 years ago in August of 1983. Although I’d done freelance work for editor Sam Pennington for at least four years before that, it wasn’t until the October 1983 issue that I was listed as its contributing editor.

Sam decided that we should cover the 26th Annual New Hampshire Antiques Dealers Association (NHADA) show, which was held in Concord’s old Highway Hotel, now torn down and part of a shopping plaza beside Interstate 93. Russell Carrell (1917-1998) was the show manager then, and Sam said, “See if you can get some quotes from him; he hates M.A.D., so see if you can get him to talk about it.”

We went and did. Carrell did not like the fact that the magazine printed prices of the antiques offered by dealers or sold at auction. His comments added some spice to the show coverage, but the real story for us was the action on the selling floor.

We wrote, “The inter-dealer buying before the show opened was strong enough, but the minute the admission-paying customers hit the floor, the red sold stickers appeared everywhere.” And an exhibitor said about sales, “It’s always been good, but this year, wow! Everything’s selling. We’ll have to go home tonight for more stock if it keeps up.”

Would this year’s show bear any resemblance to the 1983 edition?

At 10 a.m. on August 8, 2013, they stormed through the doors of the armory in the Radisson Hotel in Manchester in search of treasures. The first sold tag went on an object at 10:02 a.m. (in the RJG Antiques booth), and the Granite State gold rush was on.

Was the show successful? Hollis Brodrick of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, a veteran exhibitor, said it was “the best show I’ve had in five years. It’s almost like old times again!” Cheryl Scott of Pittsfield, New Hampshire, said this year’s selling was her personal best. “I had two sales by 10:07—that’s seven minutes after opening.” Her booth was at the very far end of the floor from the doors, making that an impressive comment.

The annual show at the Radisson has the longest run (three days) of any of the affairs held during the eight-day Antiques Week stretch. It also has the most-fevered action of any at opening. There appeared to be a greater turnover of exhibitors this year than in the past. The list of new exhibitors includes the Norwoods’ Spirit of America, Fred Giampietro, Axtell Antiques, Olde Hope Antiques, Stella Rubin, Robert T. Foley, Brian Cullity, John Chaski, Michelle Genereux, and Douglas R. Wyant.

Within the first two hours that the show was open on Thursday, a list of sold items included several board games, an aluminum decoy, and a pair of fire buckets in the RJG booth; a fish weathervane in the Dionnes’ booth; a dry sink and a banister-back chair in John Chaski’s booth; a tavern table in the Piatts’ booth; a wooden rooster weathervane in Fred Giampietro’s booth; a large whirligig figure of a man, a centaur weathervane, and several signs in the Jewett-Berdan booth; a cherry stand and settle from Pratt’s Antiques; a peacock weathervane from the Steingrebe booth; a Rochester Iron Works horse weathervane from Bob and Debbie Withington’s booth; and a Fiske weathervane from Thomas R. Longacre’s booth.

There were multiple sales in Douglas Wyant’s booth, and Axtell Antiques sold an appliquéd wool table cover. Sold in Jeff and Holly Noordsy’s booth was a painted fire bucket; and a big restaurant sign in the Cherry Gallery’s booth was sold. We could go on for many more paragraphs, but it isn’t necessary.

This year’s sales were more than abundant. Some of the prices were equally impressive. Groton, Massachusetts, dealers Pam and Martha Boynton said they had a much more successful show this year than last. How successful? Martha smiled and said, “Well, we sold a pair of Maine portraits by Brewster for $40,000 and a miniature blanket chest for $12,000 during the first hour. That’s successful, don’t you think?”

Veteran exhibitor Peter Sawyer of Exeter, New Hampshire, sold a pair of Chippendale side chairs and at least two tall clocks by noon. Joshua Steenburgh of Pike, New Hampshire, said he’d sold “at least fifteen things right off the bat.”

In an antiques world that has changed dramatically in the last 30 years (one where sellers attempt to cope with a dearth of buyers for the traditional merchandise offered in the past), the fact that the NHADA show opening can produce a veritable whirlwind of buyers circling the aisles for a solid two hours on opening morning is nothing short of remarkable.

There are some exhibitors who say they also do well during the next two days, when would-be buyers can take the time to look the merchandise over without hordes of like-minded people crowding them. As one exhibitor at the 1983 NHADA show said in the report we printed then, “A show like this makes you feel good about the business.”

As for the quote we used in the title, that came from first-time exhibitor Doug Norwood a week after the show closed. Doug and Bev Norwood do a lot of shows each year (we caught him setting up for the Baltimore show). When we mentioned Manchester, he came back quickly with “great sales, just a wonderful show” and left us with “There’s nothing like this show anywhere in America!”

Hollis Brodrick was right when he said it was “almost like old times again.”

For more information, visit (www.nhada.org).

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