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email: jack@rugkazbah.com
Sun, Jun 20th, 2004 08:54:11 AM
Topic: the hali fair

The rug world calendar gets more crowded year by year - auctions, shows, conferences, fairs and rug club gatherings. At all these "events" there are always rugs for sale, either out in the open or behind closed doors and locked car boots.

Over the past 10 years the proliferation of these affairs has grown far more widespread than the client base for them and now that imbalance is exerting a serious downdraft. By participating in more than one event per year, which is the modus operandi for the most exhibitors, few dealers are able to stock enough items to keep their collections exciting and fresh. This problem, combined with the tiny pool of real buyers for antique collector pieces, is the major obstacle for something like a hali fair and this year's edition, compared to those of the previous years, appears to be suffering its effects.

RK.com has received several first-hand reports from savvy visitors to the fair and they unanimously support this conclusion. While about 60 dealers are at still exhibiting at Olympia, this number is down from preceding years with several former high profile exhibitors absent. On top of this, the stands are smaller and according to one of our respondents "...the quality of outstanding pieces is also down."

There were some enthusiastic comments about several of the dealers wares - in particular an outstanding Timuri main carpet for 16,000 pounds, a group of Classical Ushak carpets for sale as a collection for 1 million pounds, some outstanding Chinese carpets and textiles, an exceptional mina-khani Beshir main carpet and an early Turkmen ensi, which was said to have been bought by one exhibitor from another during the setup.

Lately, events like the hali fair have become dealer to dealer swap-meets and most of the business done during them is not with retail clients but between participating and non-participating dealers. That's fine well and good but as most of these dealers realize at the end of the day, it is necessary to have clients and buyers who are outside of the trade.

To state that widening the perimeters of public participation in rug collecting is the most essential job the rug world needs to tackle successfully is sorely obvious. So why hasn't any type of collective effort been expended in this direction instead of putting on more in-group conferences and glitzy fairs??

Author: jc
Sun, Jun 20th, 2004 08:54:11 AM

Recently a house-generated review of the fair appeared on the hali website and, as should be expected, it contains the usual spin-doctoring readers have become accustomed to seeing.

When read between the lines, so to speak, a number of the points expressed on RK.com are substantiated, albeit with that special brand of frilly window dressing hali coats most of their stories with.

Ten days is much to long a time and while it might work for an "antique show" it surely doesn't for a rug and textile affair. Why? Well basically the clientele interested in "antiques" is far larger and more varied while the "rug world" just isn't big enough to support such a long drawn out affair. Then, of course, there’s the fact such a long run diffuses the competition and must-buy psychology inherent in auctions and limited time-line shows (like icoc and acor dealer days) always draw their success from.

Overlooking this element, which often acts like a cattle-prod to push buyers into action, was the most drastic miscalculation the organizers made, although there were some others RK.com highlighted as well.

The hali review bemoaned the lack of Americana and scarcity of Europeans as well but another point, which was hidden within their self-congratulatory review, was the scarcity of big-ticket sales. Most dealers reported, at best, only fair to middlin' business and the fact that only half of them have signed up again for next years run, which was presented by hali as a good omen, sure appears to RK.com as a sign something isn't as groovy as hamburger danny and hali want you to believe.

Sorry, guys, but rug dealers aren't really interested in paying thousands of pounds for a small stall, going through all the troubles shipping their inventory, dealing with customs, etc, and all the other expenses of doing a show just to sit around and "drink wines" and gab with other dealers, especially when the champagne runs out too early and buyers are just too damn few and far between.

Author: jc
Wed, Jun 9th, 2004 11:16:52 AM

Hi Ron: I agree with almost everything you wrote but the tons of people looking to buy something is not one. If that were the case the business would be very different and perhaps many other dealers would have a strong show business like you do.

In the end there aren't enough buyers to support the shows, this is obvious and not until new blood is brought into the arena will there be a change. This was the main point of the post and of others that have appeared here on RK.com.

One additional caveat : remember there are furnishing rugs and collector rugs and the furnishing rug market is bouyant but the collector market is far less so. Condition in the furnishing market is paramount - in the collector market not so. How many real buyers for collector rugs are out there?? RK.com says far too few.

Author: R.Franklin Hort
Wed, Jun 9th, 2004 09:22:34 AM

Well Jack, I guess the reason that there are so many shows is that most people won't leave their backyard to go to a show so we,the exhibitors, go to their areas. I, almost never, do bad at these shows. There are tons of buyers looking for a great rug or a great deal. Unfortunatly the two don't always go together. I suggest that if the public wants to see a ton of GREAT carpets and textiles they should go to an exhibition or museum. At most show they are going to see good rugs at hopefully a good price. Yes, there are many world class pieces at these shows to purchase but, as you know, it is the mix of rugs,trapping and textiles so that the sellers don't miss a chance to make a sale or a new customer. The customer wants to see both. If they don't, they are smart enough to go to an exhibition or museum and not to The Hali un-Fair or to any other textile show that the participants are there to sell. Not everybody can afford a world class piece. As a matter of fact, I think that we all started out buying something that we could affor. Not so much the best peice that we have ever seen. Most of us grow into that mode if we are to end up with a world class collection. What about the people that just want to purchase a trophy? Are they supposed to go to a show and spend $10,000 or more on something they know nothing about except that it looks wonderful? If so, could you please send me their numbers so I can help them. Anyway, that is my take on why there are so many show. Ron

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