Sunday, August 10, 2014

Antique Shows

I am not sure when my grandmother starting selling antiques, but it was before I was born.  As you can see from the picture I was a member of her support staff from an early age.  Grandma didn't have a shop.  She would go to Antique Shows and would also do estate sales.  Doing a show with Grandma was an adventure.  First she would determine which inventory she thought she could move at the particular show.  She knew she wouldn't be able to get as much money for certain types of glass in certain areas and she also knew what would move best at the show where she was going .  Next, the van would get loaded with the boxes.  The boxes were old poultry boxes.  They were wax covered cardboard.  I didn't realize until I was much older that the boxes actually used to have frozen chickens in them.  Gross.  To make it even better all the glass was wrapped in blue adult diapers.  They were blue plastic on one side and many had been used so many times that the filling balled up in between the layers.  Once again, I did not know these "wraps" had another purpose besides keeping my grandmothers glass safe.  When I found out what they were I was completely freaked out.  First of all the fact that an adult would have to wear a diaper blew my adolescent mind and second that I had handled so many of them.  The boxes were unloaded onto a display that my grandfather developed and built.  The display had three shelves and was covered in alternating blue and white fabric.  The official colors of Heisey Glass.  You couldn't just put things on the shelves, there was an order.  Grandma knew what needed to be where and next to what to catch a potential buyers eye.  Everything had more than one price.  The price that was on it, the price she would sell it to you if you haggled a little with her and the price she would sell it to a dealer.  I can still here Grandma haggling with somebody and saying, well you know I am a dealer.  What is your dealer price?

Working the show was really not very exciting for a kid.  Most of these shows were in high school gymnasiums or convention centers.  We would hit the snack bar and walk around and look at the other antiques.  Grandma was pretty picky about the booths where we could shop.  We would often slowly walk by and hear her mumble "Crap".  We couldn't go in there.  We would walk past another booth and hear her mumble "Asshole".  That guy didn't offer dealer discounts so we couldn't go in there.  Then we would come across one of her buddies and we would be stuck in there forever just shooting the breeze and maybe buying something that she would wrap up, take home, inventory and try and sell at the next show.  In our booth, we were allowed to help wrap purchases.  To this day it pains me to see somebody wrap up something the wrong way.  You had to maximize your diaper and get as much into it as possible. ( I followed this same principle with my children by the way).  Once we reached an age that we could calculate sales tax we were allowed to write the receipts and take the money.  I would sit at the money box and have peoples tickets written up with tax calculated before they could even change their mind.  There were no returns accepted.  I have to say that I think my grandmother was a fair business woman.  I don't think she tried to get more than her glass was really worth.  I honestly don't know if she actually made any money selling glass or not.  I have heard it said that she showed a "loss" every year after she took out her "expenses".  Yes- Johnnie Walker Red was an expense.

At the end of the show Grandma would let me pick out a piece of glass to add to my collection. I still display those little pieces of glass with pride.  They are my first paycheck!

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