As we head into the holiday season the COVID-19 pandemic continues to alter plans for many, including antiques collectors, dealers and organizations that promote antiques shows. There has been much discussion of “COVID fatigue” as many people to try to resume life as normal, at least to some extent. The anticipated fall rebound of cases will likely prompt government officials to respond with continued – and sometimes confusing – restrictions on all types of commerce and gatherings.
Show planners may have the most difficult task when it comes to COVID restrictions. It seems that a retail shopping mall, now open in many places, would be similar to a large venue such as a convention center where an antiques show might be held. Yet, in some cases, there have been restrictions on the opening of those venues. Adding to the stress for show organizers are possible travel restrictions that impact customers, and more troublesome, vendors. Many larger shows count on dealers from states beyond the show venue. Shows need to be planned in advance, and dealers need to commit in advance, which is difficult if it isn’t known whether the dealer might be subject to quarantine on arrival or on return.
We worry about the lost momentum when shows are cancelled, especially for the volunteer organizations that count on shows for income. Shows can easily slip away when the committees and volunteers who handle myriad show arrangements “pause” for a year.
The loss of shows also has an impact on one of the important parts of antiques education – that is the face-to-face contact between dealers and collectors. Whether it is helping a novice collector learn about antiques, or the long-time collector “talking shop” with a dealer about a recent “find,” the in-person connection remains a pleasant and important benefit of a show.
So to show organizers, professional and non-profits, who have been forced to cancel shows, we feel your pain and we hope you will be back soon. From our end, we’ve moved our annual “Show Planner” to our February issue instead of the long-standing January section. Of course our January issue will list any 2021 shows that are scheduled and advertised for early in the the year.
When it comes to the 2020 pandemic, someday it will be history. We doubt that it will become a collecting category, however!