TWIN BRIDGES CELEBRATES
FORTY YEARS: 1982 – 2022
REFLECTIONS OF AN
ANTIQUES SHOW PROMOTER
Don & Carole Berry
2022, Redding, California. Twin Bridges Antique Productions enters the new year celebrating forty years of quality antiques promotions in California & Southern Oregon. Founded in 1982 by
Don and Carole Berry in Ben Lomond, California, the name, “Twin Bridges,” comes from the area of old Highway 9 in the Santa Cruz Mountains fondly known by locals as “Twin Bridges.” Don passed
away in 1999. Carole has continued to build and run Twin Bridges.
THE REST OF THE STORY . . .
“In 1979, Don and I left Cal State University, Hayward’s Student Services and academia behind for self-employment and small-town life in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Our passion for collecting antiques led to our frequent patronage of Jim White Antiques in Ben Lomond, an antique collective.
One day while shopping at Jim White’s, a dealer in the shop said: “you’re always buying antiques, why don’t you just become dealers!” Excited at the prospect of buying more antiques than we could justify collecting, we soon rented a space in the collective. Beginning in 1980, we started selling at Northern California shows. While at our first mall show, we were unhappy with some of the logistical details of the promotion. I remember Don saying, “we could do a better job than this”, then saying, “we could do a better job than this!”
Drawing upon transferable skills from promoting events for the University, we began exploring the idea of promoting antiques shows. Don wanted to approach Capitola Mall in Santa Cruz, a successful regional shopping center in our area. I thought a Mall would be way too big, that we should think about a hotel or a small hall, but Don was confident that the Mall would provide the best venue for our first venture into promoting antiques shows. In the Summer of 1982, we promoted our first show at Capitola Mall. The show was highly successful and marked the beginning of our new career.
Beginning in 1983, we expanded promotions to a variety of enclosed shopping centers and paid admission venues from Albany, Oregon to Las Vegas, Nevada, averaging between twelve and seventeen shows per year. During our forty years in business, Twin Bridges’ has promoted shows at twenty-six enclosed malls, thirteen paid admission charity events and one outdoor street fair. For many years our most popular paid admission show was at De Anza College in Cupertino (greater San Francisco Bay Area) benefitting the De Anza College Disabled Students Program.
When we started the show in 1983, we were concerned that customers would not want to attend a paid admission event when they could go to a mall show or an outdoor street fair with no admission fee. As a result, for every paid admission we gave the customer a rebate coupon of equal value which could be used like cash toward any purchase at the Show. At the end of the Show, while the dealers were packing and loading out, I would go around with cash and pay the dealers for coupons collected. This turned out to be a very popular promotion for us, although not always cost effective!
In 2008, Twin Bridges was asked to take over promotion of Walter Larsen’s Truckee CA Show (which he started in 1974) and Phyllis Bear’s Medford OR Show at the Medford Armory Benefitting Dogs For the Deaf (which she started in 1993.) Both shows are still popular with dealers and collectors. After retiring, Walter Larsen (now deceased) and long time associate Bruce Dowling, visited the Truckee Show, reminiscing with old colleagues and staying connected with the Show they had created and nurtured for decades.
Phyllis Bear and her family still set up a booth at the Medford Show. Dealers and collectors are always delighted to see them. In 2020, Twin Bridges was asked to take over promotion of the Butte County Sheriff’s Mounted Posse’s Chico CA Show. Due to the horrific 2018 Camp Fire in Paradise CA and surrounding areas, many residents lost their homes and cherished antiques and collectibles. Those collectors who remained in the Chico Area were thrilled to attend an antique show and discover treasures that would help them preserve their many fond memories.
While mall shows were once a major part of our business, with changes in the shopping center industry over the years, Twin Bridges’ no longer promotes mall shows. The last was in January, 2015 at Mt. Shasta Mall in Redding. Current events include paid admission charity shows held in Auburn, CA (benefitting the Placer County Library); Chico, Ca (benefitting charities of the Butte County Sheriff’s Mounted Posse), Dixon, CA (benefitting charities of Soroptimist International of Dixon); Medford, Oregon (benefitting Dogs for better Lives (formerly Dogs for the Deaf); and Truckee, CA (benefitting the Truckee High Boosters’ Club). As of October, 2016, Twin Bridges no longer promotes street fairs for the Historic District of Folsom, CA (a non profit business district.)
Our dog, Rummy was show mascot for Twin Bridges from 1982 to 1985. Beginning in 1992, our dog, Daisy took on the role of show mascot, attending shows until her passing in 2007. While dealers who joined Twin Bridges’ Shows in recent years never knew Don, Rummy or Daisy, many old timers still fondly remember them.
Daisy Berry, Twin Bridges’
Show Mascot 1992 – 2007
The following memories from 2009 seem amazingly relevant in our current times! We did recover then and we will once again!
August, 2009, Redding, California Twenty seven years ago, my late husband, Don and I began promoting antiques shows. The economy, elections, and world events have always directly and indirectly impacted attendance and sales. That said, we’ve had a pretty good first half of the year! At our annual charity show in Dixon, California this past March, we experienced record attendance and strong sales for most participating exhibitors.
With many people holding off on taking expensive trips, attending a local antiques show is an inexpensive way of enjoying the day. While not all dealers are having strong sales, many collectors are still shopping and spending their money on high ticket pieces.
A theory presented by exhibitors Joe and Gloria Bilotta of Cool, California may help explain this phenomenon: “Both Joe and I really enjoyed the Dixon show – the sales on Saturday were like a dream come true for dealers like us who have had such stagnant sales lately in the antique mall we are currently in.
The question we have been asking ourselves is WHY would the people of Dixon want to come out to an antique show in such numbers (and even buy) when we are all being bombarded by the media this past month with gloom & doom? There are few people who have not been drastically affected by the crashing of Wall Street, job losses, banks failing, cutbacks, and uncertainty of the future. So many people are facing really hard times through no fault of their own!
So many tragedies out there, I can only watch the news for just a few minutes at a time, as it is so terrifying and absolutely depressing.” Gloria continues: “I was discussing this WHY question with a friend Nancy Barney (another antiques’ dealer), and she came up with a very interesting comment: She said that for many people, antiques are like ‘COMFORT FOOD’, they remind us of a time when things were not nearly so complicated . . . or of things we had as a child, or something our mother had, or a pleasant place we had visited, or a great memory from the past.
Just like comfort food, that somehow makes you feel better by even just smelling it, specific ‘old things’ give you a connection with the past that is very familiar and yes, precious. (That is also the reason why a particular song or melody can trigger a memory of a certain time, place, or person—even smells can do the same). When I, myself, walk into an antique show or mall I get a sense of familiarity, as well as a return to past memories. It gives me real contentment to revisit these old things!”
Considering what’s going on in “the real world”, we’ve been encouraged by high attendance and strong sales for many dealers at our shows this calendar year. In January 2009, our mall show at Mt. Shasta Mall in Redding, California drew an unprecedented number of collectors. Some long time dealers sold high end, expensive pieces they had carried for years (even decades.) Our appraisers’ panel had to work overtime because so many people turned out.
All in all, it was one of the most successful shows we’ve had in years! Our street fairs in the Historic District of Folsom, which have been held for over forty years, continue to draw record crowds and enthusiastic shoppers. Despite these troubled times, several long-time dealers who took part in this April’s Fair reported having their best show ever. Perhaps Joe and Gloria Bilotta’s theory about antiques and antiquing as “comfort food” has merit.
Dealers who are experiencing a relatively high level of success in these times have acknowledged the importance of expanding their inventory to appeal to current collectors and shoppers. At one of our shows last year, Stephen G. Turner, Fine Arts and Antiques Appraiser and W. Brooke Sivo, Vice President, Director, American Furniture and Decorative Arts, Bonhams and Butterfields, both of San Francisco, California, held a seminar for antiques’ dealers on trends in the antiques’ market.
Both Steve and Brooke talked about changes that have taken place as the “baby boomers” are replaced by their adult children as primary antiques collectors. The shopper who once paid full retail for a mid 1800’s pattern glass pitcher is often now replaced by the shopper looking for a shabby chic lamp.
Shows come and go over the years. Once popular mall shows are now almost entirely extinct. I sincerely believe that the enthusiasm of collectors and their desire to discover treasures at shows will continue to fuel our industry. One great fact about taking part in a show is that is represents a short term commitment. If it doesn’t work out, there’s always another show and there’s always hope. Carole Berry, Promoter, Twin Bridges Antique Productions 2009
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