Six Types Of Attendees At Today's Antiques Shows

“What’s It Worth” Antiques Minute

March 8, 2019

I recently attended a local antiques show and tried to analyze those in attendance. Aside from 95 percent being 60 or older, I observed the following six categories of people at this show, and I think this holds true for many other antiques shows as well, regardless of location.
Those antique dealers who are exhibiting at an antiques show need to be considered as attendees because there is usually considerable pre-show buying among exhibitors. Some exhibitors buy and sell better before the show even starts than throughout the rest of the show. Some dealers even exhibit at shows with the primary goal of buying rather than selling.
Early Buyers and Serious Collectors
This would include both non-exhibiting antiques dealers and serious collectors who are seeking to purchase bargains at wholesale prices, either for re-sale or for their personal collections. Typically, “early buyers” are willing to pay a higher admission fee for early entry, thereby getting the first shot at merchandise. Other times they will pay the regular admission fee and stand in the front of the line waiting for the show doors to open for general admission. And still other bargain hunters arrive shortly before the show’s final closing, knowing that dealers are often willing to drop prices considerably in order to make a few final sales, especially if they’ve had a poor overall show.
Casual Collectors
These are less-serious shoppers who arrive later on opening day, or on the second show day, and who are usually willing to pay near retail prices for what they want. Exhibitors love these shoppers because they generally negotiate less than the above categories.
These are people who are considering making a show purchase. They’ve already seen the merchandise and, after negotiating the best possible price, they tell the exhibitor, “I’ll be back.” Sometimes “be-backs” return to make a purchase later in the day if they’ve found nothing better to spend their money on, or sometimes they return on the second day of the show, hoping the item is still there, with possibly an even lower price. Usually, “be-backs” never come back.
Tire Kickers
These are not collectors, buyers, or sellers. Rather, these are people out for a ride, on a date, looking for something different to do, or who are looking to kill some time. They pay the show admission fee but don’t spend much money. They’ll usually spend their money on food or snacks and, if they buy some merchandise, it’s usually a small-dollar purchase.
Potential Sellers
These show attendees are not there to buy anything. Rather, they’re either researching current market prices for items they own and are considering selling or people who are actively seeking to peddle their items to the exhibiting dealers in the show.
What’s it worth? If you like antiques and collectibles, there are still bargains to be had at antiques shows. Although some merchandise is overpriced, or with outdated price stickers from years ago, with an astute eye, patience, and good negotiating skills, bargains can still be found, Usually the earlier you arrive at an antiques show, the greater the potential to locate a bargain. The later you arrive, the fewer bargains you will find. However, some bargains can be found just before a show closes. And if you see something that you like, don’t forget those five magical words at any antiques show, “Can you do any better?” Usually a better price can be had.

Mike Ivankovich is an auctioneer, appraiser, home downsizing expert, and host of the "What's It Worth? Ask Mike the Appraiser" radio show. Now in its fifth year, “What’s It Worth” airs live on Friday mornings from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. on WBCB 1490 AM in the greater Philadelphia area. It is available on the internet at
Listeners can also visit his radio show website at
To contact Mike Ivankovich, call 215-264-4304.


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