Do they know its Antiques Week in Nashville?

Porcelain Antiques Week in Nashville 2012The answer far too often is no. The large number of antiques-related shows on television about antiques are indication antiques are a growing part of the popular lexicon. Yet arriving in Nashville at the start of antiques week, I couldn’t find a local who knew it was antiques week.

The driver of the hotel shuttle, for example, asked why we were in town. “For Antiques Week,” I said, pointing out there were big shows in Hendersonville, at the Gaylord and in Nashville. The word antiques was immediately related to the History Channel’s American Pickers. For the record, the driver also didn’t know the show’s Mike Wolfe has opened a branch of his store in Music City.

There were of course plenty of folks out there who did like antiques, and knew it was Antiques Week, because there didn’t seem to be any shortage of patrons on the show floors. Yet it is an indication that those in the industry continue to talk to the same audiences, and it goes to show that sites like are needed to reach out to the next layer- people in the vintage, gallery and museum world’s– and beyond. More cross-promotion is needed as is an increased awareness among the general public and an effort to translate someone who “likes American Pickers” into someone who stands in line at a show looking for good stuff.

In short, the guy driving this van needs to know.

I know the great feeling that can come from collecting. I got it from my father who collects toy trains. It feels really good when you find something you perceive is really good. For me its something of some quality with a really good story. I felt this way in Nashville when I found such a thing at the Heart of Country show.

American Pickers are fun. It takes a lot of time to pick, however. It’s not true that everything at a show has been picked over, or that it’s priced at the top of its value. It’s not true, at least not universally true, that you can get better deals at auction. Remember dealers are an older breed, and many of them are not online. Many of the people they buy from are not online.

Horse Antiques Week in Nashville 2012The truth is dealers pick at shows. There’s a well-worn saying that if two antiques dealers were stranded on an island they would both have a viable business. Dealers have their own specialties, and many bring things outside of these specialties. Dealers also like to exhibit shows they can also shop at. I personally witnessed items move from one show to another in Nashville, and many others move from one booth to another, or go into the truck for display at the next show.

Most people don’t have the time to pick from barns across the heartland. We rely on the eyes of dealers. Dealers have a curatorial instinct and they do much of the picking for us. We go to events like those of Nashville’s Antiques Week and find the things we best relate to.

The truth is, ours is the fun part. More of us need to be aware of how much fun it is. They need to know it’s Antiques Week and that it’s a time when there’s lots to be found, and lots of fun to be had.

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