Annual show features antiques and much more

By Annie Gentile - ReminderNews
Manchester - posted Fri., Mar. 25, 2011
The 49th Annual Antiques and Collectible Show featured the rare and unusual, including this early 1900s Chinese sales catalog of American-made goods. Photos by Annie Gentile.
The 49th Annual Antiques and Collectible Show featured the rare and unusual, including this early 1900s Chinese sales catalog of American-made goods. Photos by Annie Gentile.

Shoppers at the 49th Annual Antiques and Collectible Show – their arms laden with bags and boxes, and their faces full of smiles – created a constant flow of traffic at the Second Congregational Church March 18 and 19. They poured into the multi-booth main level or peeked into the separate additional booth areas in the downstairs classroom areas. They also had the opportunity to enjoy a hearty meal of homemade chowders, sandwiches, pies and desserts in a tea room area.

When it came to describing how they ventured into the antiquing business, many of the dealers shared the common refrain that it might be a lot of work,  but it’s also a labor of love.

“It’s something we do together,” said Betty Merritt, who operated the House of Merritt booth with her husband Richard. “When we first started out, Dick worked long hours at his job, and so going to auctions – well, that was our date night.”

Betty Merritt said she and her husband don’t have a formal shop, but participate in about 10 indoor and outdoor shows a year. The Second Congregational Church event, in which the two have been participating for about the last 10 years, is one of the better shows, she said.

“The people are friendly and they come to buy here,” said Richard Merritt. “Some of the other shows are more social hours. It’s a hobby for us that pays for itself.”

In between sales and conversations with shoppers, the Merritts also compared notes with the dealer in a neighboring booth, Jane Wlochowski, aka “The Dutiful Daughter.”

Although she is not an antique dealer by trade, Wlochowski has long flirted with the business, starting with a part-time job in the 1970s when she worked for a local estate lawyer.  She explained that if the deceased had no family in the area, it was her job to clean out a home and hold a tag sale. Wlochowski’s success resulted in word-of-mouth requests to help other families and friends with clean-outs and placing estate items with auction houses, galleries, furniture consignment shops or for donations. Her experiences resulted in her starting her own home content removal business, “The Dutiful Daughter.” Those experiences also helped her develop a good eye for antiques and collectibles.

“I’m not high-end. I do just this show – a little bit of everything for the beginning collector,” said Wlochowski.

There were, however, high-end items available as well: furniture, jewelry, and paintings in particular. Some were for sale, which served as a draw to showcase a booth, and some acted as teasers to encourage a formal visit to dealers’ permanent stores. That variety, from the very simple to the extravagant, insured an interesting and enjoyable time for the most serious or casual of shoppers.


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