Trading in the past on the Lebanon Town Green

By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Lebanon - posted Mon., Sep. 30, 2013
Vendor Robert Peck, from West Hartford, helps a customer look through his assortment of hand-wrapped jewelry. Peck's business, Gens R Us, offers jewelry made from recycled items such as broken china ware. Photos by Melanie Savage.
Vendor Robert Peck, from West Hartford, helps a customer look through his assortment of hand-wrapped jewelry. Peck's business, Gens R Us, offers jewelry made from recycled items such as broken china ware. Photos by Melanie Savage.

According to Lebanon Historical Society President Glenn Pianka, the organization has been hosting an outdoor antique sale on the historic, mile-long town green for at least 46 years. Over the years, the participation of vendors has waned a bit. “In the early years we had well over 100,” said Pianka.

In a typical average year, the show draws between 600 and 800 visitors, according to Pianka. Vendors and shoppers alike come from all over the state and beyond, he said. Participants are drawn by the show’s quality goods. “We like to have vendors stay with true antiques and collectibles,” said Pianka, adding that organizers try to discourage the sale of reproductions and lower-quality items.

This year’s market drew a total of 66 vendors. “Today we definitely have a field of good-quality vendors,” said Pianka, noting that the Lebanon market had fared much better than other shows over the years. Sixty-six was a respectable number, said Pianka, “Especially when you’re dealing with this quality.”

Lebanon resident Brian Bartezek has been selling at the market for many years. His parents used to sell there. “They were probably involved from the beginning,” said Bartezek. Back then, a vendor could make a living selling antiques and collectibles, said Bartezek. Today the market has softened. As for the Lebanon show, “Like all of the antique business, it has shrunk some,” he said. But the show has been an important event for the historical society over the years, said Bartezek. “It has helped us purchase the property that the museum is in,” he said, with a gesture across the street to the Lebanon Historical Society Museum and Visitors Center.

At a nearby booth, Lebanon resident Norman Allard chatted with a customer about some antique cameras. Allard has also been a long-time fixture at the Lebanon show and said that the only other market he currently attends is the huge, thrice-annual Brimfield Antiques show in Massachusetts. Allard mainly deals in American paintings and bottles, picking up goods at antique shows, shops, estate sales and auctions. Regarding the changing antiques market, he pointed to the Internet as a major contributor. “Something that used to be valued highly, the scarcity’s not there anymore,” said Allard. On the other hand, by providing exposure to a previously unavailable market, the Internet could sometimes serve as a boon for a vendor. “If you have a scarce item, you have a much larger audience,” said Allard.

 


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