The first of this year’s West Palm Beach Antiques Festival Summer Shows on July 2, 3 had lots of competition from the Monday National Holiday and a crowded local events calendar but rainy weather gave customers an opportunity for some dry, air-conditioned fun searching out antiques. Festival owners Kay and Bill Puchstein reported good attendance and good sales among the wide variety of dealers and merchandise on display at the South Florida fairgrounds.
While many of the attendees were regular repeat customers, some were pleasantly surprised at finding an antiques show operating in Florida in mid summer and not having to wait until the fall to continue their antiques quests. Kay and Bill Puchstein’s slogan for two years has been “Everyone knows there is not a whole lot of antiquing going on during the summer in Florida but we are going to make West Palm Beach a year round destination for antiques and collectibles.” The slogan is getting around as more people discover the festival every Summer.
One of the dealers who really likes the Summer Shows because of a constant stream of repeat customers and will be at the August 6-7 event is Karen Kronimus. Karen has been around the antiques business most of her life. As a child and teenager she attended shows and auctions with her mother who was a dealer. She feels like she was an original American Picker going to rural auctions and first scouting out the outbuildings for hidden treasures for her mother.
As a newlywed she did antiques shows on her own on the weekends and held a variety of regular jobs during the week including working in a hardware store and on a thoroughbred horse breeding farm.
Fifteen years ago she had the opportunity to acquire the entire leftover stock of a Bakelite factory that was going out of business. Not really knowing what to do with it but not wanting to miss a chance, she acquired thirteen tons of Bakelite stock in the form of raw bars and unfinished inventory like dice without markings and incomplete sets of dominoes and lots of domino blanks.
With her father as an accomplice she set out to drill correct patterns in the faces of the blank dice and insert colorful beads. She also drilled and painted blank dominoes to complete unfinished sets. On the first weekend she set up at a show to sell her Bakelite inventions she sold $11,000 worth of dice, dominoes and poker chips. Those items are now part of the inventory she displays at West Palm Beach along with Bakelite bracelets and other jewelry she and her father make. All of the jewelry is signed by Karen or her father so as not confuse any of her work with original Bakelite object.
But there is a lot more to Karen’s booth than just Bakelite. She also is a serious postcard collector and dealer with more that 20 boxes of postcards in her booth at any Festival. She also has 24 showcases of costume jewelry and a staggering array of buttons as well as tables with shelves to display glassware and silver. She estimates she displays over 10,000 individual items in her booth.
And you can’t miss her. Hers is one of the first tables you see when entering the Festival. She feels like she has two chances at customers – coming and going. Often she makes a sale to a customer on the way out when they didn’t find what they wanted inside. Her regular best selling item in general is her costume jewelry because she feels people are afraid to wear their real gems in public. She is happy to buy or trade with a customer and is happy to give an informal opinion of the authenticity and value of a customer’s items.
The format for the entire Summer Season will be the two day affair, Saturday and Sunday instead of the normal three day event during the regular season. Summer show dates will be August 6-7, September 3-4 and October 1-2 with a full day of setup for dealers on Friday 8:00AM to 7:00PM. The Puchsteins have lowered dealers’ booth rent for the Summer Season over the normal show fee. The popular “Early Buyers Admission” feature will be continued in the summer starting at 9:00AM on Saturday before the regular Show opening time of 10:00AM. Summer Show Early Buyers admission has been reduced to $10 and is good for both days of the Show. Adult daily admission $7.00, seniors $6.00 with a 1$ discount coupon for adult admission available on the website. Anyone under 16 is admitted free. There is no charge for parking at the Fairgrounds.
The West Palm Beach Antiques Festival (wpbaf.com) is held at the South Florida Fairgrounds located off Southern Boulevard in West Palm Beach, FL, 1.5 miles west of the Florida Turnpike and 1 mile east of 441/SR7.