WEST JEFFERSON-They came with cash in hand from all over the land last weekend, and they came looking for deals they just can’t find anywhere else.
The 5th Annual Olde Time Antiques Fair drew more than 1,000 customers from across the region to downtown West Jefferson Sept. 16-17, according to organizer Keith Woodie, despite a few hiccups and the fact that nearby Appalachian State University was hosting the biggest game in school history at the exact same time.
“We had some last second vendor cancellations, things that couldn’t really be helped,” Woodie said. “But just look at what we’ve got on display here, some really cool stuff, and people are already checking things out and we just got underway.”
Woodie, owner of Antiques on Main and member of the W.J. Business Association, said the fair got off the ground five years ago as a way to promote the town’s downtown during what was then a lull in its traditional events calendar.
“It’s kind of a tight fit right here every year – you’ve got some other great stuff going on this weekend and the weekends before and after – but it’s always been a lot of fun.”
That’s an assessment antique seller Matt Grogan agreed with. He said he’s made it a point to rent a booth at the Olde Time Antiques Fair for the past three years.
Grogan, who described himself as much a hobbyist as a seller, said he enjoys the thrill of the hunt that comes with discovering and buying long forgotten pieces of history. He had everything from old school corn shellers too vintage advertising and “project” pieces on display.
And, like everything else at the Olde Time Antiques Fair, even the giant hornet’s nest he picked up at a flea market was for sale.
“I just love the dust and rust,” Grogan said. “We buy here, there, everywhere – pretty much all year long – and sale just here in West Jefferson. We love it.”
Grogan said the Fair strikes the right balance between foot traffic and vendor fees the he finds hard to beat.
“I guess I’m too tight to buy booth space at an antique mall, because it eats up all your profit,” Grogan said. “Right here, for the amount I pay for my booth space, this is perfect. And honestly this place has been good to us. Last year, both days were awesome and if you’ll look around, it’s just a little past 1 p.m. and already a lot of this stuff I have right here already has ‘Sold!’ tags on it.”
Woodie said it’s the allure of finding a dusty piece of Americana that keeps customers coming back for more.
“That’s something you see here and everywhere,” Woodie said. “I think there is a sense that this stuff was built to last, and it evokes emotions in people. That’s why they drive from all over to check out antique fairs and antique malls.”
And Woodie said the dance that leads up to the purchase is as important for some people as the treasures they walk away with. At least three times during a five minute interview, buyers yelled out to Woodie, “What’s the best you’ll take on this?”
Woodie can’t help but smile before he answers.
“Oh man, the haggling back and forth, people love it,” Woodie said. “Sometimes they’ll come in with a crazy offer, and you’ve got to shrug that off, but everybody loves to feel like they got a deal, like they won. That feelings hard to beat.”
Reach Adam Orr at 336-489-3058.