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Purchase Story

Changes in Heartland

Don Johnson | June 3rd, 2017

Heartland Antique Show, Richmond, Indiana

Changes, yes. Selling the show, no way. There were plenty of items sold during the Heartland Antique Show, held on June 3 on the Wayne County Fairgrounds in Richmond, Indiana. And there was one very notable no-sale—the show itself. That’s because Heartland was never on the market, despite talk otherwise.

Early in the day, a rumor began rolling through the Tom Raper Expo Center that Jennifer Sabin, who founded the show and remains the owner/manager after 28 years, was stepping aside. Somewhere that speculation fractured into multiple rumors, each naming a different buyer. Doug Supinger was taking over the show, someone said. Steve Jenkins had already inked a deal, someone else suggested. It was all, however, hush-hush—dropped voices that often began something like this, “Did you hear….”

Sabin heard. But with a show to run that day, there was little she could do to put out the scattered fires sparked by the rumors. She could, however, offer a definitive answer to the question of whether she was stepping down as the show’s owner.

“The show is not for sale,” she answered when asked late in the day. “I am clueless. I don’t know where that rumor came from,” she added. “I have no idea. I have never talked to anybody.”

The summer show is still Sabin’s gem. While the fall show also remains strong, a few other events have come and gone. A Maryland version of Heartland had a strong start but faded over time and was closed. Antiques in 2 Barns, an attempt at a new show in Ohio last year, was a one-and-done deal. Even Heartland has seen some changes. The most notable came when Sabin decided to consolidate dealers at the June event into one building.


“Tourists” sign, painted wood, $395; architectural elements, $950 the pair; miniature glider, painted wood, $275; watermelon-decorated box, $795, all from Tim and Charline Chambers of Missouri Plain Folk, Sikeston, Missouri.


Bird’s Eye View of Confederate Prison Pen at Salisbury, N.C., lithograph, 1886, about 25¾" x 36½", $1100 from Debbie and Glenn Howard of Howard Antiques and Primitives, Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania.


A 17th-century monk’s table in original condition, the top 8' x 30", was $6995 from Inez Allen and Nan Donovan of City Mouse Country Mouse Antiques, Cincinnati, Ohio. “It’s the best table I’ve ever had,” said Allen.

“The number of dealers was declining over the last two to three years,” Sabin said. “I had to make the spaces larger and make the aisles larger to keep the two buildings open. Everyone knows that a show is shrinking. Instead of waiting until the show looked bad, I put everyone in one building to keep it compact, friendly and make it look good. And I think it did.”

The larger of the two facilities, the Tom Raper Expo Center, was kept, while the Kuhlman Memorial Center was shuttered. The move drew mixed reactions when Sabin first told her dealers of the plan a year ago. Some didn’t want to make the switch, especially when it meant giving up a floor location they had maintained for years. The public also weighed in. One Facebook visitor expressed dismay over the consolidation, saying that he wouldn’t attend the event because of it.

In the end, it really didn’t matter. The number of dealers wasn’t affected. Sabin was able to put 105 merchants under the same roof, and that seemed like a logical thing. Years ago, when the size of the show bulged over the 200-dealer mark, it made sense to use more than one building. Plus, Sabin now has a waiting list of dealers interested in the summer show.


Wooden picket fence segment, Illinois origin, $135; gingerbread trim, $146, from Donna Kidwell of Winterberry Store & Antiques, Tuscola, Illinois.


Hunt board attributed to Georgia, carved edges, late 18th or early 19th century, original finish, $16,500; Woodlands Indian bowl, late 18th or early 19th century, $4200, from Sharon and Claude Baker of Daytona Beach, Florida. “It’s the best I’ve ever had, the best I’ve ever seen,” Claude Baker said of the hunt board.


Marquetry frame having cupid-type medallions and a scroll-cut Bible verse, $1800 from Greg K. Kramer & Co., Robesonia, Pennsylvania.


Folk art scarecrow, one of four different examples, about 20 years old, $750 each from Don and Marta Orwig of Corunna, Indiana.

It wasn’t as if this was the first change to come to Heartland. When the show started, booths were housed in animal barns, under a canvas big top, and across the lawn. Over time, that layout changed.

The latest format seemed to work fine. “Everyone was willing to give it a try,” said Sabin. “I did a dealer survey at the end of the show, and everyone was pleased. I heard no negative comments about the floor plan or reducing to one building.”

She also said two-thirds of the dealers reported satisfactory sales. “The gate was solid,” she added, noting that customers came from 16 states.

Pleased with the way things turned out, Sabin will keep to the one-building format for the June show. (The November show has been in one building since its inception.) The only change planned is to shorten the show slightly, allowing dealers to get on the road a little earlier than before. The new hours will be 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The fall show is slated for Saturday, November 18. Eighty-five dealers are expected. For more information, phone Sabin at (843) 812-0282 or visit (www.heartlandantiqueshow.com).


English chair, 18th century, original seat and surface, $595; bookkeeper’s slant-lid desk in pine with an old red wash, circa 1830, $600, from Robert Strauss and Steven Stout of The Country Gentlemen, Ann Arbor, Michigan.


High-back dry sink in old blue paint, $3800 from Steve and Barbara Jenkins of Shelbyville, Indiana.


Selection of heart cookie cutters, 2" to 9" high, $18 to $325 from Daryl and Colleen Boland Alpers of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.


The Capture of Major André, after Asher B. Durand, oil on canvas, $3200; 19th-century weathervane arrow, $895; Norwegian paint-decorated basket, initialed and dated 1858, $725; tiger maple server, sold during the show by Thomas M. Rawson of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.


Yellowware washboard, 1885-1915, $1400; flint enamel pitcher, 1850-70, $895, from Jerry Tebbano of Dutch Hollow Antiques, Aurora, Ohio. He said the washboard was the first solid yellow example he has owned.


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

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