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‘Pent-up demand’ makes for a busy Norwich Antiques Show

  • Charlie Guinipero, of Stafford Springs, Conn., digs bills out of his pocket to buy a hooked rug from Greg Hamilton’s Stone Block Antiques during the 16th annual Norwich Antiques Show in Norwich, Vt., on Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020. The Norwich Historical Society hosted 22 dealers at the show, held to raise money for their Lewis House museum, from around the region. Guinipero, himself an antique seller, did not have a booth at the show, but the rug caught his eye as he browsed. “It’s folky, funky,” he said. “It looks like a bad dream.” (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Linda Brown, of White River Junction, tries to find a wireless connection for her credit card payment system while selling antiques at the Norwich Antiques Show, in Norwich, Vt., on Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020. “Normally we do 20-some shows a year, except this year they’re all canceled,” Brown said. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Noah, left, and Marina Brennan, right, of Norwich, Vt., load a rug into their car after shopping at the Norwich Antiques Show on Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 9/19/2020 9:51:22 PM
Modified: 9/20/2020 10:52:39 AM

NORWICH — Debbi Burton has no problem explaining why she and her husband would drive 95 miles on a picture-perfect Saturday morning to attend an antiques show in a small town on the other side of the state.

“We’re collectors and love the thrill of the hunt,” said Burton, of South Burlington.

Her husband, John Burton, held a paper bag from which she withdrew a hooked rug depicting a farm scene, two Bennington ware custard cups, a spackled cupboard knob and three crimson red leather English cricket balls.

“We don’t know anything about cricket,” Debbi Burton admitted. “But we love the color.”

The Burtons were among the well-turned-out crowd — all wearing face masks and many keeping distance from each other — who showed up on Saturday for the Norwich Historical Society’s antiques show, an annual fundraiser. Fifteen dealers, mostly from Vermont and New Hampshire, set up stalls under white canopies on the grounds of the Society’s Lewis House museum and offices in the heart of the village.

The pandemic made the 16th annual show a last-minute affair.

Sarah Rooker, director of the Society, said the decision to go ahead was made only about a month ago, after surveys indicated a critical mass of dealers would attend.

But by 11:30 a.m., 90 minutes after the show opened, 150 people had been checked in, “which is already ahead of where we were this at time last year,” Rooker said. Names and phone numbers were taken at the front table in the event of contact tracing would later be required.

Rooker attributed the robust turnout on Saturday to seven months of canceled events, restricted travel and cabin fever due to the pandemic — as she called it, “pent-up demand.”

By noon, White River Junction antiques dealer Linda Brown had had three customers named David alone — “which is my husband’s name, too,” she noted.

Brown, who specializes in specializes in “American Country” antiques, wooden ware, children’s furniture, doll furniture and quilts, said she usually sets up at 20 antique markets during the season “but all of them except one small one on Cape Cod have been canceled.”

George Johnson, who was helping his wife, Montpelier antiques dealer Celine Blais, at the tables set up under a canopy, enthused that they “sold tons of stuff, 30 to 40 sales” by 1 p.m.

“It’s been $5, $10, $20, $40 items, little things, but they add up,” said Johnson, a former English teacher who retired to Vermont with Blais, a Newport, Vt., native. “Everybody is ready to get out and look at antiques.”

The warm late summer day under a sunny clear sky brought out browsers like Lauren Szkodny, of Wilder, who said she likes to travel to vintage and flea markets on the weekend. However, Saturday’s show is only the second one she’s been able to attend this season because of the pandemic.

“I go more for small treasures that catch my eye,” Szkodny said as she scanned the items displayed on one table, such as “keepsake boxes and little glass figurines.”

Rooker, the Society’s director, said the antiques show usually attracts about 250 people and raises about $6,000 for the society, which supports maintaining its archives, community education programs and more.

The Society had to cancel its other big fundraiser, the annual spring home and garden tour, because of the pandemic, so the proceeds from the antiques show are critical, she noted.

The Burtons, of South Burlington, said that after the show they would head up to Canaan, Vt., in Essex County, as part of the 251 Club of Vermont, whose members have a goal to visit all 251 of the state’s towns and cities. They like to combine their travels with stops at antiques and vintage markets, and so far have ticked off “about 50” towns on the list.

“It’s an adventure,” Debbi Burton assured. “Always an adventure.”

Contact John Lippman at jlippman@vnews.com.

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