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Purchase Story

The Feel-at-Home Show

Fran Kramer | March 19th, 2017

Genesee Country Antique Dealers Association, Pittsford, New York

After 42 years of Genesee Country Antique Dealers Association (GCADA) shows, exhibitors and patrons really do feel at home, said exhibitor John Westerberg of Yankee Peddler Bookshop, Sodus Point, New York, when asked for a reason for the show’s longtime success and his personal success as well. Using his experience from his 90-plus years, he added, “Every day when I get up, I do something, lots of somethings, as I have an urge for antiques, books, history, and making the most of each day. And I think those who come to this show share that urge.”

Every mid March—this year March 18 and 19—cabin fever is treated with a visit to the antiques show. It was held this year as in past years in the Nazareth College Shults Center, and as many as 1500 patrons attended. As exhibitor Michael Haskins of Palmyra, New York, said, “People in Rochester are coming out again—and buying.”

The interior of the main exhibit area is well lit and has easy setup and take down.

Affordable country pieces from Gary French of Horseheads, New York, included a $295 pine table and a four-drawer chest, $295.

One reason for the strong attendance could be attributed to the advertising, which was the most creative I have ever seen. Dealer and show chairperson Roberta Paul headed up an advertising committee whose actions included using a billboard near an expressway interchange in downtown Rochester known as the Can of Worms because of its sprawling lanes. The billboard splashed details of the show. There were movie theater ads, screened between “turn off your cell phone” and “buy popcorn,” that gave show information in a downtown movie theater known for art films. There were ads on the Rochester-area public broadcasting channel for a few spots before and after Antiques Roadshow. Finally, they put a color flier insert into the daily newspaper for the eastern suburbs near the show’s location, which was more traditional, perhaps, but not for antiques shows.

Louise Creatura of Ontario, New York, a dealer who has done the show since 1980, is also known for house and estate sales in the area. The Art Deco lamp was $395.

If blue and white porcelain is your thing, dealers Dave and Mari Crumb of Hilton, New York, had your attention with flow blue pitchers and plates, most ranging from $95 to $325.

Ambitious and costly, but the advertising campaign apparently attracted the large buying crowd, even more than usual. Paul said that the show this year attracted twice the crowd as some years.

Dealers know the crowd, and the crowd knows the dealers. In this mainly retail show, the patrons are not in a hurry to rush around, and the opening line is long, taking at least an hour, as they all enter. Many dealers are full-timers (sometimes retired from other jobs) and are eager to talk to customers, and they all practice old-fashioned customer service.

Following a huge windstorm and an even bigger snowstorm, the college roads and parking lots were all neatly plowed, and it was easy to get in and out for dealers and patrons. The general location of the village of Pittsford, within the larger town of Pittsford, is in itself a draw for history buffs and antiquers. The village, population about 2000, is on the National Register of Historic Places. It is the best-preserved village along the famous Erie Canal in the state of New York and sports two bridges that cross the canal.

The almost 60 dealers come mainly from towns, villages, and cities throughout New York, and in recent years out-of-area dealers have exhibited, drawn by the low booth rent (in part thanks to the college) and the low annual cost of membership. (You can be a “guest member,” but it makes more sense to join if you plan to exhibit.) The area is home to price-sensitive buying and selling—not just antiques but houses, clothing, and furniture—so prices are marked accordingly. On the other side of the coin, if you know your stuff, dealers often can find a gem at the right price, and perhaps resell in a higher market.

John DeVolder of Webster, New York, held his porcelain rooster, marked just $95. Why? A tiny crack at the base, barely visible. His cut-down daybed was $185; easel, $185; and the antiques sign, $295.

Longtime dealers Gene and Nancy Pratt of Victor, New York, always show fine accessories. Their pair of mallard decoys was $395; the painted small dome chest, $235; and the burl mortar and pestle, $375.

So, what was selling? Brown country and formal furniture, country smalls, crocks, books, decoys, redware, cut glass, and textiles were a few categories. Two weeks after the show, we saw about 15 of the GCADA dealers exhibiting at another Rochester-area show, and all but one said that the dealers’ show had been great for them. One said it was the best show in years. Another said different clientele and younger buyers made a big difference.

To readers who are not familiar with “Genesee country,” the Genesee River flows from the New York/Pennsylvania border through the rolling hills of western New York, ending at Lake Ontario. Among the towns, cities, and places on its banks are Letchworth State Park, called the Grand Canyon of the Genesee; Geneseo, home to a state university and Cottone’s auction house; and, of course, Rochester.

Longtime dealer Steven White of White and White Antiques, Skaneateles, New York, said that initially he hesitated about doing the show last year for the first time, because usually the week prior he had been a regular exhibitor at a long-running show in Geneseo, New York, about 45 minutes away from Pittsford. No point in doing two shows so close together. Same crowd, right? Wrong, he admitted. “Different dealers, different crowd,” he said standing beside a four-piece $2850 European silver set (tray extra, $875) atop a Hepplewhite Pembroke table, circa 1790, mahogany and poplar, tagged $950, a very reasonable price. White said he had made some excellent contacts.

Have you ever seen a smoke-grained tin piece this large and with a lid? It was $395 from Kay Roffe of Ontario, New York.

The GCADA show’s ancestry really goes back to 1948 when a group of area dealers founded the organization. Among the current 68 members are dealers from Illinois, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, with the majority from western/upstate New York.

There used to be a lot more quality antiques shows in this area, but one by one they have ended. It is the closeness among the dealers and perseverance of GCADA that keeps this show rolling. There’s no professional manager or promoter, just rotating of members to chair the show. This year Roberta Paul of Geneseo, New York, tried to pull out all the stops. Most feel she did.

The 2018 show is set for March 17 and 18, and a new effort by the association is set for June 17 this year at the Greater Canandaigua Civic Center. Canandaigua is another historic upstate town, on one of the Finger Lakes, about 40 minutes southeast of Rochester. For more information about either show, contact Roberta Paul at <[email protected]> or (585) 381-6391.

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

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