Purchase Story

Stratton's Swan Song

Antiques at Stratton Mountain, Stratton, Vermont

If all goes according to plan, the Antiques at Stratton Mountain antiques show will cease to exist next year. Its slot in Antiques Week in Vermont will be replaced by the annual show produced by the Vermont Antiques Dealers’ Association (VADA), likely to be held at the Stratton Mountain ski resort.

Vergennes, Vermont, dealer Greg Hamilton managed the Antiques at Stratton Mountain show and said, “I thought it went pretty well. The gate was about the same as last year, and most dealers had pretty good shows. A few didn’t, but overall it was positive. Most people said they wanted to come back, and those that didn’t, didn’t say they didn’t either—they just didn’t talk to me.”

Asked about VADA moving in, he said, “It’s what VADA has always wanted to do—be part of Antiques Week, but there was never a venue. Everyone owned shows, and there was no spot.”

A chrome-yellow-painted potty chair with original stencil decoration was $565 from Pewter & Wood Antiques, Enfield, New Hampshire, and Cave Creek, Arizona. The paint-decorated footstool with a rush seat was $295.

Instant collection. The set of nine painted sad irons was $450 from Twin Oaks Antiques, Lunenburg, Vermont.

The pair of painted plank “stargazing” chairs was $1395 from Robert and Janet Sherwood of Cambridge, New York.

The six sheep stamps were $145 from Betty Anne Lavallee of Hampton, New Hampshire. According to an online source, sheep farmers would mark (and still do with more modern methods) sheep to keep track of them, especially when multiple herds flocked together on common land. One type of stamp was cut out of thin iron with an iron handle that terminated in wood. Another  style was to carve the mark or the owner’s initials directly into the end of a stick of light wood such as pine or basswood.

Complicating matters will be the determination of dates next year. Vermont Antiques Week has traditionally ended on the first Sunday in October, but a quirk in the calendar next year would put the shows on Columbus Day weekend—a good time to host antiques shows against a fall foliage backdrop—but it would also put the shows in competition with the revived Antiques at Rhinebeck show and the ADA/Historic Deerfield Antiques Show, produced by the Antiques Dealers’ Association of America.

As of press time, no decision had been made by the promoters of all the shows.

The Antiques at Stratton Mountain show opened with a light breakfast preview on Saturday, September 30, at 7:30 a.m. for $15. The show continued until 5 p.m. and then opened on Sunday, October 1, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. It was held at the newly renovated base lodge at the ski resort. It’s a roomy venue with plenty of parking, but the show is spread out between two floors. Hamilton made sure to have plenty of signs directing shoppers to booths on the second floor. There were no walls; it was a pipe and drape show, which is a more affordable option, said Hamilton. “The savings is a factor of ten,” he said. Also, the walls at the annual VADA show in July, also held at Stratton Mountain, had attracted the attention of the local fire marshal.

A bull windmill counterweight, made by the Fairbury Windmill Company, Fairbury, Nebraska, was $1150 from Holden Antiques, Sherman, Connecticut.

Red-painted Vermont shutter, circa 1870, $695 from Timber River Farm Country Antiques, Timber River, New Brunswick.

Portland, Maine, dealer Donald Heller of Heller Washam Antiques with a Maine chair-table, circa 1800, that once belonged to dealer David Ammarell of Sidney, Maine. The table is in old white paint with a scrubbed top and box stretchers, and the legs have an enticing subtle splay. It was $10,500.

The biggest detriment to the venue is the poor lighting. It’s dim in the lower-level booths—the upper level has much more natural light. (One dealer, when showing me a piece of furniture, produced a flashlight to shine on the object, and it was remarkable what a difference it made.) Dealers exhibiting at the Stratton Mountain base lodge would be advised to pack their own lighting.

There was plenty to like about the 45-dealer show—quality dealers with varied goods, a low admission price, and a genial staff, and the program listed contact information for all the dealers to help with follow-up sales.

Lunenburg, Vermont, dealer Gary Briggs wrote in an e-mail, “My sales were actually very good and up over the previous year. I heard from a number of exhibitors that they were pleased with the results. This was only my second year doing the show…. I found the shoppers to be more focused this year, and those in attendance were eager and willing to buy. I think the mix of dealers doing the show was outstanding, and the quality of merchandise was strong.”

Miniature tan and green hatbox, $1200 from Martha Boynton of Groton, Massachusetts.

Ken and Susan Scott of Malone, New York, offered for $1100 a one-board tap table that was used in a sugar barn. The Northwest Coast basket was $595.

Blue-painted Canadian cupboard, $3900 from Ken and Susan Scott.

Briggs did note that “the layout of the show is a bit scattered because of the facility structure, and although there was good signage, I found myself explaining to a number of shoppers that there was an upstairs with lots of booths. It’s also not the easiest place to find! I think Greg does a great job with signage, but the entrance to the show is not a ‘natural’ entrance and you have to wonder whether some people just don’t find the show. I thought there should have been an extra entrance to the show from the open shopping mall area of Stratton Village. There was signage there, but it told people they had to go downstairs to a separate entrance, and I’m not sure how many casual shoppers would make the extra effort to do that. I think they’d be more inclined to enter the show if it was more accessible from that area.”

Susan Scott of the husband-and-wife team of Ken and Susan Scott of Malone, New York, said they had done the show in various locations for almost 30 years. “This show is like old home week…. We love it.” Asked about sales, she said, “It’s not like it used to be, but we were very pleased, and we had some follow-up business, which is always nice. All in all, we were happy.”

“We did pretty good,” Pat Martin of Home Farm Antiques, Bolton, New York. “We were happy with it. We had quite a few sales across the board—all kinds of different things, including a lot of folk art. I think people were used to the poor lighting, and a lot of customers brought their own flashlights.”

Martin said she was happy the VADA show would be held during Vermont Antiques Week next year. “After all, it is the Vermont Antiques Dealers’ Association show, and it should be during that week,” she said, adding that she will participate next year.

For more information, contact Greg Hamilton at (802) 877-3359.

The Boston four-drawer chest, 1780s, by Thomas Needham II has a 37½" case width and four ball-and-claw feet. The chest was $4500 from Norman Gronning Antiques, Shaftsbury, Vermont. “We did fair—I guess fair is the new good. I think it’s a tough location…. It’s difficult to get people acclimated to the new location. We didn’t see any really serious people—that was the worst problem. The lighting was bad, and that has nothing to do with the management; it has to do with the facility itself…. It’s just not the best location.” Gronning also felt that some of the dealers from the other Vermont shows didn’t make it to Antiques at Stratton Mountain.

The folk art painted document box with the initials “H.P.R.” was $2900 from Norman Gronning. Written on the inside of the box is “This box was made by David Wheeler, Wardwell Settlement, Jeff. Co. NY in 1836 for Henry Porter Ransom.”

Originally published in the December 2017 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2017 Maine Antique Digest

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