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Breaking News: Indy Ad Show Sold to Route 32 Auctions

In a blockbuster announcement that surprised many collectors of antique advertising, it was announced on January 11 that the Indy Ad Show has been sold to new owners. Nona and Mark Wilson, who purchased the show from Donna and Bruce Weir in 2017, stated "the show has become all consuming and it is our belief that we have taken the show as far as the two of us are capable. Our desire is for the show to continue to flourish and grow and it is for this reason we are passing the reins to the Parkers of Route 32 Auctions and Restoration."

The sale includes the Indy Ad Show, Gas & Oil Show and Antique Market that comprise the "Boone County Treasure Hunt" conducted in Lebanon, Indiana twice each year. The sale also includes the Gateway Gas and Antique Advertising Show held in Springfield, Illinois. The Wilsons will manage the upcoming spring show in May, 2020 and the Parkers will shadow them to get brought aboard. The Parkers will take on the mantle of leadership in the Fall show in September but the Wilsons will be on hand to help promote a smooth transition.

This announcement comes as a shock to many because Nona and Mark have breathed new life into a show that was languishing and, by some accounts, was headed for extinction. They introduced many innovations in the context of the broader Boone County Treasure Hunt and they moved the show to a popular new location. They vastly increased the number of dealers and, simultaneously maintained quality control to ensure that the very best in the way of antique advertising was available. Their personable style made the experience pleasant for dealers and buyers alike. No doubt, they will be missed by many.

The new owners, Kevin and Jill Parker, own Route 32 Auctions. They are located in Crawfordsville, Indiana, which is located only 20 minutes from the Indy Ad Show venue in Lebanon. According to their web site, "Route 32 Auctions is a family-run auction company in Crawfordsville, Indiana. We specialize in antique signs, petroliana, automobilia, gas pumps, general store memorabilia, restoration, and more. We provide high quality and rare items that are rarely seen or found elsewhere on the market. Route 32 Auctions strives to meet each and every one of our customer’s needs, and make the auction business fun and easy to navigate."

The Parkers will have big shoes to fill but a visit to their web site demonstrates that they have the chops to get the job done. Their impressive auction facility, shown in the photo to the right, is complemented by a full restoration service and an unbelievable 20,000 sq. ft. showroom with beautiful items for display and sale. They also host events for clubs, groups, swap meets, and the like.

Visit their web site at www.route32auctions.com. Some additional photos of their operation appear below.

The Route 32 Auctions Team

View of the Showroom

Another View of the Show Room

Gas Pump Globes and Vintage Buick

General Store and Barber Shop

Signs Being Auctioned

Kevin Parker, Co-Owner

Jill Parker, Co-Owner

In an interview with the Checkerboard, Kevin Parker talked about his vision for the future. He stated that a gradual transition is planned to ensure continuity with the strategies that have proven to be successful for the Wilsons. Don't look for big changes. He asserted "We are not going to do anything different" at this point in time. (However, Route 32 will conduct the auction at the September, 2020 Indy event and auctions will be added to the Gateway Shows in 2021.)

At the same time, Kevin stated that they will endeavor to continue to add new dealers and increase the foot traffic at the shows. They plan to ramp up advertising in different areas, including social media, the Route 32 web site and other venues. They also plan to draw in more West Coast involvement. One of Kevin's principal goals is to keep the dealers happy and he is aware that maximizing foot traffic is vital to that objective.

He would like fans of the Indy Ad Show to know that he is "a long-time collector and dealer of antique advertising and other vintage items." He is "not somebody right off the street." He added "We are there in the trenches with others---we are all in the same boat." He is hopeful knowing that will help people be comfortable with him and Route 32 Auctions.

In a relatively brief period of time, Route 32 Auctions has built a broad, respected national presence in the antique advertising sphere. With their vision, creativity, and a robust complement of employees, they have the infrastructure to tackle their new adventures as a major show promoter.

AAAA wishes Nona and Mark all the best in the future! Since they purchased the Indy Ad Show, AAAA has enjoyed a cordial and collaborative relationship with them. We want to thank them for that.

The Parkers have assured us that they will continue to work with AAAA in the same spirit of collaboration. AAAA looks forward to that and wishes Route 32 Auctions much success in the future! They certainly seem to have the moxey to make that happen!

Checkerboard

Indy Ad Show: A Successful Re-Invention

By Paul Lefkovitz

As previously reported, the Indy Ad Show was sold to new owners, Nona and Mark Wilson, doing business as Northstar Collective. They ushered in a new era of this long-running show in their inaugural event that took place September 23-24, 2017. By almost any measure, the show was a triumph in visionary out-of-the box thinking, attention to detail, sensitivity to the needs of dealers and buyers, and willingness to take risks.

The show was moved from the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis to the newly renovated Boone County Fairgrounds in Lebanon, a short drive northwest of the city. They expanded the Indy Ad Show into an extravaganza of three shows, known collectively as the "Boone County Treasure Hunt". In addition to the Ad Show, a Vintage Market and a Gas and Oil Show also took place.

They amassed the largest assemblage of antique advertising dealers in one place at one time in years--perhaps ever. There were over 300 booths of great merchandise. Over 1300 people attended, many coming from very long distances. Buyers expressed sheer delight at the range, quality, and vast quantity of material that was available. A number of individuals voiced similar sentiments: "If you can't find something you like here, then you may as well give up."

So what did the new owners do right? A whole lot. They recruited record numbers of dealers. They dramatically reduced the cost of a booth. They expanded the show into three events. They charged only $8.00 to attend all three shows. They advertised the heck out of the event in trade publications, TV, radio, and even roadside billboards! They were flexible and helpful in their interactions with dealers.

In an unscientific poll conducted by this writer, most dealers reported being very pleased with their sales. In fact, some were unabashedly giddy about how well they did. However, the large number of dealers did result in higher levels of competition and some felt the impact of that. The vast majority of dealers that I spoke with were very happy with the new location in Boone County. The bottom line was that all I spoke with plan to return to future shows.

The buyers I spoke with reported having a great time. They were thoroughly delighted with both the quantity and quality of the items for sale. They also liked the new setting which offered interesting display areas, including nooks and crannies that hearkened back to the "good ol' days" of the Ad Show.

Kudos go to Nona and Mark for their gutsy and successful first showing! They report that they were especially pleased with the number of dealers and shoppers they reunited at the show.

The next show will once again take place at the Boone County location May 5-6, 2018. The owners plan to modify the hours a bit by opening the doors at 8:00 AM instead of 9:00 AM and closing the show at 1:00 PM on Sunday instead of 3:00 PM.

Hordes of collectors and dealers will eagerly be looking forward to the return of this exciting show in the Spring to see what treasures and opportunities await them.

Reprinted with permission from the October, 2017 issue of the AAAA Checkerboard, published by the Antique Advertising Association of America.