A Day in the Life...

In June my sister, Betty, visited us for a week that included the Saturday, June 14th Festival of Antiques at the Fairgrounds in Mullica Hill, New Jersey.  This was a special time for her because she was raised in nearby Woodstown, New Jersey and she wanted a first hand view of the life of a couple of aging antiques dealers.

Earlier in the week Betty got her first look at a real, live auction at the Conestoga Auction gallery.  We didn't unearth any undiscovered treasures but Betty got to see a bit of the buying side of the antiques equation.  And she picked up a few fun things for herself.

We had spared Betty the preamble to an antiques show- traveling out to our two shops to gather just the right merchandise for the upcoming show.  We had done this before her arrival.  What she did get to see was a nearly complete show set-up in our garage.  We do this to stage all the merchandise and make sure it looks right before packing the trailer.  For shows without walls we set two display boards to hold all our hangable antiques- artwork, wall boxes, trade signs, etc.  After we get the arrangement right I photograph the items in place so we have a visual reference when setting up.

On the Friday before the show Betty helped us pack all the smalls and load the U-Haul.  The display boards go in first, then the furniture and plastic bins of smalls.  The more delicate items and things that can't be boxed go in the back of the SUV.  By dinner time the trailer was packed and the car pointed out the driveway for an early start.

The 4:30 AM alarm on Saturday announced the start of a long day.  We headed out at 5:00 AM for the 45 minute drive to Mullica Hill (This is the closest show we do).  This put us near the front of the line for the 6:00 AM set-up.  It took the three of us about two and a half hours to complete the set-up and put us in good shape for the 9:00 AM opening time.

The show itself is the fun part.  Betty thoroughly enjoyed the usual banter with all our dealer friends and meeting old and new customers.  The most fun is seeing wonderful antiques with untold stories find new homes.  We had a good show with the highlight being the sale of a painted Maine blanket chest, ca. 1820 to 1840, to Nancy Rose of northern New Jersey.  It is fun to see great pieces go to nice people.

Then at 4:00 PM we put the process in reverse- everything gets re-packed and re-loaded for the trip home.  The photo is of Cindy and me next to the packed U-Haul.  At 5:30 we set out for home with just one stop along the way.  By divine providence we pass right by a Carvel Ice Cream store and our New York roots demanded we stop for a taste of our youth.  And after a thirteen hour day we needed the stop and the sugar surge.  Then it was off for home.

The last task of the day was to empty the trailer with all the merchandise going back in the empty garage bay and the trailer returned to U-Haul.  Finally, around eight o-clock we collapsed in the living room.

Sister Betty flew home the next day and missed the final fun of an antiques show which is getting all the unsold merchandise back to one of our shops or stowed away in the garage or basement.  Then the cycle is complete.  We often quip that when we were working we were "movers and shakers" but since getting into the antiques business we are just plain movers.

It was especially nice to share the day with Betty and just as nice for her to understand the work that goes into our new career.



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