|By Carole Deutsch
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Southern Living Presents, a cable TV program, dubbed it “The Granddaddy of Antiques Shows,” and for a very good reason.
Heart of Country National Antiques Show has long been a favorite among antiques dealers and collectors alike, who view the event as a festival, a happening, and a tradition. Dealers come by invitation only from all over the country and bring their best to the show. Collectors, as well as renowned decorators, architects and high profile project designers, come from across the nation prepared to buy from a plethora of outstanding quality merchandise.
The show opens with Nashville music and what attendees will tell you is “the best Southern buffet ever.” Booth presentations are exceptional by any standard, and this year’s show, which was held Feb. 13-15, represented 76 dealers that sold to thousands of eager buyers who began lining up in the early afternoon for the 6 p.m. opening.
Anthony Baratta, a decorator from Diamond Baratta Designs, New York City, commented that it was not uncommon for him to spend $50,000 at the show, but he said as a buyer he has to be decisive because if you walk away someone is right there on your heels waiting to buy the item.
“I have seen distinctive forms and unique pieces at Heart of Country that I had never seen anywhere else, and have never seen again. When I think of all the things that I have purchased over the years, the ones that I find most fascinating have come from there.”
American and English primitive and period furniture, fine and folk art, pottery, quilts, rugs, silver and pewter, Native American Indian artifacts, and specialty collectibles that include nautical, decoys, sports memorabilia, early baskets and so much more, could be found. Weathervanes are always a show favorite at Heart of Country, and this year an exceptional collection of animal theme items sold well. An exhibit of early Native American weavings and handmade rugs also attracted a good deal of attention from show attendants. Another popular attraction is the “Under $200 Booth,” for those not prepared to spend thousands of dollars, which has proven to be a favorite with guests who are shopping in all price ranges.
Despite a challenge to this year’s show in the form of disagreeable weather, which made it difficult to get to Nashville from far-reaching cities, the greater majority of the dealers enjoyed record sales. Inez Allen from Country Mouse, City Mouse Antiques in Cincinnati, Ohio, a longtime participant who sells everything from primitive country antiques to formal period furniture, china, fine and folk art, and garden accessories, said the show was fantastic.
“Phenomenal, and we were thrilled to do it.”
Heart of Country is a family enterprise started 33 years ago and is owned and operated by Kramer-Hunkins and Associates, St. Louis, Mo.
“One of the most important ingredients in the ongoing success is in the selection of our dealers,” Susan Kramer Hunkins told AntiqueWeek. . “We invite dealers to do the show who, first, have great merchandise and, second, have the knowledge and temperament to engage and educate customers who enter their booths. And the customers love to return every year to visit with their favorite dealers as if it were a reunion party. The benefits come in increased sales for the dealers and happy purchases by the customer, all based on familiarity and trust.”
Year after year, Heart of Country continues to stay on the “can’t miss” list for serious antiques enthusiasts. Next year’s show will be held Feb. 12-14. For more information and for a closer look at the show’s extensive contents, visit www.heartofcountry.com