The Three Pillars To All Antiques Shows

“What’s It Worth” Antiques Minute

March 29, 2019

Successful antique shows don’t just happen. They require good timing and a lot of hard work. In my opinion, there are three “pillars” to any successful antiques show, and all are required for a show to succeed.
It takes a good promotor for an antiques show to succeed. Most promoters are business people who need to make a fair profit. If they fail to make a profit, they’ll stop running antiques shows. They charge an exhibitors’ fee for any antiques dealer to set up at the show, and they will charge an admission fee for the general public to attend the show (this is often called “the gate”). From exhibitor fees and the gate, promotors must pay facility rental fees, marketing and advertising, staffing and labor, and other show expenses, while still hoping to make a profit. A large exhibitor base and strong gate can lead to a profitable show. If either softens, the promoter will make little or no money. The promoter can’t succeed without exhibitors and the gate.
Exhibitors (i.e. antiques dealers) pay the promoter an exhibition fee to set up at the show, with the hope that their show sales will exceed their exhibition fee and show expenses. Exhibitors must pack and unpack, pay travel and overnight expenses, and they have their own marketing and administrative expenses. And yes, they must also purchase the antiques and collectibles that they hope to sell. Exhibitors’ show sales must exceed all of their show expenses and cost of goods sold to have a successful show. If not, they lose money, and will most likely not exhibit at that show again.
The Gate
Show attendees pay a fee to enter a show based upon the size, quality and reputation of the show. Both the promoter and the exhibitors need a good gate to succeed. If customers fail to attend a show, or if those attending fail to spend any serious money, both the promoter and exhibitors are seriously affected.
All three of these groups are inter-related, and none can exist without the other two.
What’s it worth? With today’s declining interest in many antiques and collectibles categories, fewer people are attending most antiques shows and/or spending serious money at them. This means that fewer antiques dealers are paying to exhibit at shows. And with fewer exhibitors and a declining gate, an increasing number of promoters are closing their shows. It’s a sad, but real cycle, but hopefully we are nearing the turning point. Because many people, like myself, really enjoy going to a good antiques show.

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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