Don Scott ~ "A Better Way"

By: Fred Taylor

Like so many successful players in todayís antiques trade, Don Scott had his interest piqued as a youngster. Now, as a "fifty something" Baby Boomer, he is still intensely interested, both personally and professionally, in what he calls "artifacts of prior man". His early attention was drawn to the artifacts left by the prior man known as Native American. He scoured the fields of his parentsí farm looking for arrowheads and other discarded fragments of an ancient civilization but he soon came to realize that even more recent relics could be of interest. Some of the oddities of the previous centuryís Victorian culture so proudly displayed in his grandparentís home had an enduring charm and mystery about them, further tightening the web of the "antique bug" around young Don.

Early in his professional career Don led an almost fairy tale existence, flying professionally in and out of the Middle East. It didnít take him long to spot the Western antiques that had been shipped to that part of the world a century or more earlier in trade agreements involving oriental rugs and other exotic merchandise. He found a ready market for such "fresh" finds in the U.S., inspiring him to settle down in California in 1976 and open a retail antiques business with a detached base of operations in Ohio to take advantage of the price differentials found in the Midwest market compared to the West Coast. When that arbitrage advantage dwindled Don settled in Ohio and began participating in shows in the Midwest and the South, with varying results.

He reached the conclusion that the system was too harsh on a dealer. It was too hard to set up, access to the facilities was too limited, the shows were too expensive and life on the road was just too hard on the individual dealer. Why should he have to spend a long cold weekend in the truck or bunk up with ten other dealers in ratty a motel room because they couldnít afford any better? The deck was stacked against the little guy. There had to be a better way and Don set out to find it.

In 1986 what he found was an old fairgrounds in Atlanta that had all the amenities on the list of what he felt was required for a show to be both customer friendly and dealer friendly. That list included nearby good restaurants, reasonably located and affordably priced accommodations, good transportation logistics and a comfortable show environment. The location is now called the Atlanta Expo Center and the show is called the Scott Antique Market, featuring over 2,400 booths that house an average of 1,500 dealers the second weekend of every month. The "want" list must have been right because currently approximately 25 percent of the dealers who set up in Atlanta every month also set up at the other Scott Markets.

With the right formula now on paper Don expanded his idea back to Ohio in 1989 at the Ohio Expo Center, formerly known as the Ohio State Fairgrounds in Columbus. On the third or fourth weekend of each month from November to April, 1,000 - 1,200 dealers set up for the Midwest version of the Scott Antique Market.

And to take advantage of the winter Florida season, beginning in 2002, Don and the crew now set up in January of each year at the Florida Expo Park, home of the Florida State Fair in Hillsborough County. The Tampa version of the Scott Market has shown promising growth each year and Don says it will become a fixture in the Florida market.

Has the Internet affected the Scott Antique Markets and the loyal dealers who set up there? "Of course it has" retorts Scott. But he feels that most of the impact is positive. One initial result was the disappearance of mid level smalls, Victorian brass doorknobs for example, from the retail trade. They all went to online sales. But now they are working their way back into the retail inventory, having changed hands several times. In one sense this activity has actually energized the industry by making it more accessible to more buyers and sellers. And the higher end buyers and sellers go to retail shows like Scottís to see, feel and trade the artifacts they can only see online.

Don Scott started with an idea nineteen years ago and he has made it work for both buyers and sellers, becoming an important part of the industry.


About the author:

Fred Taylor's new book "HOW TO BE A FURNITURE DETECTIVE" is now available for $18.95 plus $2.00 S & H. Send check or money order for $20.95 to Fred Taylor, PO Box 215, Crystal River, FL 34423.
Fred and Gail Taylor's video, "IDENTIFICATION OF OLDER & ANTIQUE FURNITURE", ($29.95 includes S & H) is also available at the same address. For more information call (800) 387-6377, fax (352) 563-2916, or e-mail fmtaylor@aol.com.


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