Made of painted wood, the double-sided “Ice Cream Social” sign was priced at $450. The bonnet chest in walnut had cherry drawer bottoms and was $795. The items were shown by Joseph Jarvis of Jarvis Antiques, Georgetown, Kentucky. “Smalls are doing good, but the big stuff didn’t move today,” he noted.
Early American furniture can always be found at this show. A transitional Queen Anne chair with paint decoration was $850; New England tavern table, $2900; and Windsor continuous-arm chair, $1850. They were shown by Bruce Rigsby of Lancaster, Kentucky.
“Guess what day it is.” This 8¼" diameter English ABC plate showing “The Camel” was tagged $125 by Linda Pastori of My Old Ohio House, Urbana, Ohio.
Sales at the show included this hanging cupboard with nine drawers, 24" x 79", offered by Donna McCormick of A Little Something, Hagerstown, Indiana.
This set of bone dominoes in a miniature bowl was marked $75 by Donna J. Downes of Connecticut Yankee Antiques, Berkley, Michigan. Each piece is about 5/8" long.
Items sold early in the day included this tiger maple cradle shown by Don and Pat Helton of Barn Stable Antiques, Fremont, Indiana. It was previously owned by Andrew Richmond and Hollie Davis, authors of M.A.D.’s “The Young Collector” column.
The open back suggested that this miniature structure was used as a dollhouse. Found in Yellow Springs, Ohio, it was 14" high x 22" wide and priced at $295 by Wayne and Madeleine Powell of Powell’s Antiques, Beavercreek, Ohio.
Always ones to come up with the unusual, Bill and Karen Hopper of Red Rooster Two Antiques, Vincennes, Indiana, showed a homemade beehive from the mid-1800’s. Made to hang on the side of a barn, it came from Chester County, Pennsylvania, and was tagged $295.
Maybe he needs that camel.
Bruce Metzger isn’t sure what he needs. As the manager of the Ohio Country Antique Show, Metzger was doing a bit of head-scratching after the October 12, 2013, show in Wilmington, Ohio. The talk during the event was that attendance was down. Metzger wasn’t so sure at the time. Things seemed fine to him. At the end of the day, however, a headcount confirmed what the dealers had said. Attendance, it turned out, had declined about 5% from the previous October and 20% from the April show.
“It was difficult for me to judge from my roving vantage point, and I would not have believed it except for the gate tally does not lie,” Metzger wrote in an e-mail afterward.
An off day isn’t the end of the world. A lot of things can affect the gate of any given show. In October, that can include fall weather that’s warm and sunny, prompting people to stay at home for some late-season yard work, or it can mean a day that’s cold, wet, and windy, provoking would-be customers to choose a pot of coffee and a good book over a mad dash against the elements.
Metzger understands the impact of weather. The last show he promoted before Ohio Country was the season-ending edition of the Tri-State Antique Market in Lawrenceburg, Indiana. The monthly indoor/outdoor show was held under a pounding rain, the kind that overflows gutters and drenches one’s spirit. It happens. Metzger knew to shrug the shoulders and forge ahead.
Yet Ohio Country has him a bit baffled. Nearly a decade old, the semiannual show remains relatively steady (which can be a good thing), but it’s not gaining ground (which can be a bad thing). Metzger can’t explain the stagnation.
It doesn’t make sense. This is still a solid show that, as the name implies, leans heavily toward country antiques. Some great Americana has turned up here over the years. Many of the dealers are top-notch.
For October Metzger bumped the size of the event to 70 dealers. While the spring show has been that size for some time, the fall show had lagged behind, usually at about 55 dealers. The larger size is what he wanted. And, during the show itself, Metzger was convinced that it was working.
“I’m absolutely pleased, absolutely,” he said halfway through the day. Part of that gratification came from finally getting the spring and fall shows on the same footing. “I was tired of trying to manage that two-tier show,” he said, referring to different dealer counts. “The timing was right.”
If nothing else, Metzger was determined. “I’ve got a bad attitude,” he said. “After nine years it’s either going to make it or not.”
His resolve hadn’t changed after the show, even upon seeing that the gate was down.
“I have no theories about why, but I do not regret forcing this show to ‘make it or break it,’” he wrote in a follow-up e-mail. “I will be thinking long and hard about the next step for Ohio Country, but I am well satisfied that I have explored and tried every marketing venue within budget (print, radio, television, social media, etc.) somewhere along the line in hopes of boosting results. Nonetheless, there has been a steady slide in attendance from a peak in 2011. Something here is not sustainable...that is really all I know for sure. It is a sad situation for those of us who love these traditional, earlier antiques.”
So what’s the answer? Metzger needs a camel.
That thought came late during the show in the booth of Linda Pastori of My Old Ohio House, Urbana, Ohio. Among a selection of smalls was an English ABC plate from the Wild Animals series, showing “The Camel.” For many people, viewing the plate likely elicited a smile resulting from the recollection of what is proving to be the year’s most memorable television commercial—the Geico insurance spot showing a camel swaggering through an office filled with coworkers determined to ignore him.
You know the one:
“Uh oh, guess what day it is. Guess-what-day-it-is! Huh? Anybody? Julie, hey, guess what day it is. Aw c’mon, I know you can hear me. Mike Mike Mike Mike Mike. What day is it, Mike? Wuuhahahahahaha. Leslie, guess what today is.” When Leslie quietly acknowledges, “It’s hump day,” the camel gives a bold, “Whoot-whoooot!” He struts out of the office with a final shout of “Hump Daaaay, yeaaaaa!”
Geico’s commercial, hyping its clients as being “happier than a camel on Wednesday,” became a viral sensation. It spawned merchandise ranging from T-shirts to flip-flops to shot glasses. The White House referenced the ad in a tweet that included a photo of Vice President Joe Biden looking at a camel. A Connecticut middle school banned its students from quoting the video, citing repeated disturbances.
Whether the commercial actually gets people to switch insurance companies is unclear, but it certainly has them talking. That’s the type of buzz Metzger—or any show promoter, auctioneer, or antiques dealer—would love to generate.
The truth of the matter is this: With or without a camel, Ohio County is a good show that has experienced a declining gate. It’s not the end of the world, but it’s concerning for Metzger, who appears determined to find a fix.
For more information, phone Metzger at (513) 738-7256 or visit (www.queencityshows.com).
Originally published in the January 2014 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2013 Maine Antique Digest