I found out a week ago that the upcoming antiques show for Selma had a snafu in that the promoter backed out of the deal. I have a slight problem with the way that this was handled in that there was apparently no contract with the promoter, merely a "gentlemen's agreement". That means that the town dumped time, money, and resources into a verbal understanding and not something more "concrete". The promoter figured that the response from local businesses was lame and that they would lose money and reputation by participating.
I have already seen signs, posters, etc. around town. I hear that there are already billboards, as well. I heard of mailers to Chamber of Commerce members and mailing lists, as well as ads in publications. All of this was done without having a contract for a promoter. Now, town employees will attempt to step in and do the job at this late date. The show is scheduled for less than a month away and in that time, the town employees, who are not professional promoters, will attempt to continue so that the show will go on.
I heard about this at last week's town council meeting. An article was in last Thursday's "Selma News". However, since it is not an online paper, I didn't reference it here. "The Smithfield Herald" did have an article on their web site, so I will share it here.
I can understand the desire to continue with the show. However, I also wonder if it would be better to simply let the show die this year and cut the losses and save the resources for next year. I have heard that people are expected to come from out of state to attend the show. It would be relatively easy to judge that response by contacting local hotels about the rate of room bookings for the show's span.
I see a few problems with the show. First, not many dealers expressed that much interest. If they had, they would have registered for the show. Second, it is outdoors, on Raiford Street, so I understand. One word...rain. Furniture does not do well in the rain, so choosing an outdoor venue for a furniture show is a bit stupid to me.
We already have a large number of antique dealers in store fronts. Pouring money into a show instead of a private/public partnership for media relations is not my favored method of town promotion. Selma is not the State Fairgrounds or the Raleigh Civic and Convention Center. If we had a convention center, I could see it, but we are only a town of about 6,000 population. Yes, we do have a center of interest for those who love over priced antiques, but we don't have a proper venue for a show, in my opinion. Sometimes, you have to cut your losses.
Don't get me wrong, I hope that if the show is going to continue to go on, it will be successful. I just think that one quote from the article below says volumes: "Last week, Tarry [the promoter] said his firm had pitched the show to more than 2,500 vendors in various states along the Eastern Seaboard. "We spent months trying to find interest, but it just wasn't there," he said. "We called almost every antique dealer in North Carolina and attended large shows all up and down the East Coast. We have to have willing participants to put on a show, but we just couldn't find many around."
If there is no interest, there is no interest. Just because something may sound like a good idea doesn't mean we need to do it. Then again, many good ideas are left undone when they should not be so.
The show will go on
By JORDAN COOKE, STAFF REPORTER
Selma -- Less than a month before the first East Coast Antiques Show, the New York promotions firm planning the event has dropped the show from its calendar.
Last week, Selma Town Manager Jeff White told a visibly dismayed Town Council that Syracuse-based The Results Group was no longer promoting the event. White said he called the company last Tuesday for an update on the festival but was told the firm was no longer working on the event.
"They told me that they didn't have enough vendors to make it work, so they decided to drop it and move on," he said. "They had set a deadline of August 25 for vendors to let them know if they would be participating."
"I suppose it's a good thing that I called them and asked them about it," White added. "If I hadn't, I'm not sure if they would have informed us about it or not. We very well might have showed up for the start of the festival and found that there was nobody there."
In a phone interview on Thursday, Tom Tarry of The Results Group defended his company's decision. "I realize that people might think that we pulled out rather late in the game, but that's just how things work in this business," he said. "This business is a very last-minute business."
Tarry and his colleague, John Reedy, approached the Town Council in March about promoting the festival. The town would not be required to pay any money for their services, Tarry and Reedy said, provided that The Results Group maintained exclusive rights to market the festival in its early years.
Last week, Tarry said his firm had pitched the show to more than 2,500 vendors in various states along the Eastern Seaboard. "We spent months trying to find interest, but it just wasn't there," he said. "We called almost every antique dealer in North Carolina and attended large shows all up and down the East Coast. We have to have willing participants to put on a show, but we just couldn't find many around."
Despite the setback, White said he would work with local antique dealers to make sure the show went on anyway. "We're going to make this thing work," he said. "We want to make this as successful for the town of Selma as we possibly can."
Tonia Harris, owner of Visual Pleasure Antiques, said she and her husband were among those working behind the scenes to pull the antiques show together. Harris said her husband, Lance, has begun visiting auction houses and antiques show to solicit vendors for the festival.
For his part, Tarry said his company would willingly provide information on vendors it had contacted. He said he wished the town the best of luck with the antiques festival and hoped it would be a hit.
"We're not going to hold back the information we have from them just because we're not promoting the show any longer," he said. "I think it's great they are still going to have the festival, and I hope it goes well."
Harris said she had recently talked with another antique dealer who seemed confident she could persuade several friends to set up booths at the antiques ahow. "There's nothing else going on that weekend, so it will give people in our area a chance to join us," Harris noted.
"We're confidently networking with other antiques lovers and I'm confident that everything will be just fine," she added. "All of us here want it to be successful."
Herald Staff Reporter Jordan Cooke can be reached at 934-2176, Ext. 133, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.