By any yardstick you use, the shows in Amishland last weekend were a great success. We got to five of the six locations either on Friday or Saturday and bought items at two of them.
Saturday morning at the Otto Center in Arthur, people were elbow to elbow — and every dealer I talked to said sales were good. Only my friend Howard Baker said his sales were down this year.
We were told that there were 300 to 400 people in line at the fairgrounds in Arthur waiting for it to open.
The two shows in Tuscola also were doing well and had a variety of items at both sites.
And two dealers at the Best Western in Arcola could not wait to close Friday evening so they could restock their spaces for the Saturday event. We were there late Friday, and almost all of the dealers had sold half or more of their inventory.
Every show we visited had hired a firm from Indiana that came in and constructed temporary walls, covered with colored paper and backed by pegboard, which in essence made booths or separate spaces for each dealer. They looked nice and were very practical. Good old American ingenuity at work.
By the way, I gave the wrong date for the Otto Center show in Arthur, for which I apologize. (They still had a great show on the right day, so nobody apparently listens to me anyway.)
Some of the locations had workers at the ready to help move large or heavy items. Some could even arrange delivery.
Those extras go a long way toward bringing in more satisfied customers and potential buyers. There are a lot of large items at most early American and primitive shows, so extra helpers add that special touch.
Some might ask what is different about a primitive country/early American show compared to just a regular antique show and sale. Country Spirit of Georgetown put out a 40-page, full-color, 8-by-8-inch hardbound book that I think answers that question with photos from its last five shows.
I also think everything is at least 50 years old and, in most cases, probably well more than 100 years old, in its original finish, hardly ever restored. You may ask about this book at www.countryspiritshow.com.
Bob Swisher has been a collector since he was a child. Questions or comments can be sent to Swisher by writing to The News-Gazette, P.O. Box 677, Champaign, IL 61824-677 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.