IDA MAE BUTERBAUGH
By: Fred Taylor
There is an old saying that says you can always tell the pioneers by the arrows in their backs. Florida show promoter and owner of Buterbaugh Antique Shows, Ida Mae Buterbaugh, certainly has acquired a nice collection of arrows over her years in the antiques business.
Born Ida Mae Edwards in Pitcairn, PA, near Pittsburgh, Ida Mae was raised by adoptive parents from a very early age. When she was seven years old her adoptive mother began buying and selling local estates, establishing a precedent that served Ida Mae well in later years. She met her soul mate, Charlie Buterbaugh in elementary school and after that, she says, “Charlie never had a chance.” They were married in 1945 when Charlie returned from duty in the Pacific, still in a cast, recovering from wounds received in battle and from a kamikaze attack on the homeward bound hospital ship.
The early post War period was short on housing and short on household “stuff” as Ida Mae recalls and like most newlyweds of the era they had to scrounge for items to set up an apartment. During this period Charlie remembered that a nearby uncle had a large unused barn and that another relative was an auctioneer - of sorts. With these assets Charlie and Ida Mae aggressively began to acquire and auction off local households and estates. But they prudently hung on to items they felt had special value, the antiques. Using these special items, by 1949 they had established an antiques wholesale business. By the mid 1950’s when the bulk of local estates had been broken up and sold, Ida Mae and Charlie opened a retail antiques business.
By a curious twist of fate in 1963 the organizers of the State of Pennsylvania’s celebration of the 200th anniversary of a French and Indian War battle in the area asked Ida Mae to organize an antiques show to be held in conjunction with the celebration. This first successful promotion would eventually launch Ida Mae on her show promoting career.
In 1968 she and Charlie began traveling to Florida to participate in the seasonal antiques shows including the Jacksonville Women’s Club, the Vero Beach Optimist Society and the original D.S. Clarke shows in Miami and Augusta. But the Buterbaughs did not neglect their home region. Charlie and Ida Mae acquired the University of Notre Dame A/C Building Show, the Syria Mosque Show in Pittsburgh, the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Building Show in Oakland (PA) and the Community Center Show in Lebanon. They were now big time promoters while still exhibiting in almost every other major show in the East and Mid West.
After raising three children in addition to all the shows, Charlie and Ida Mae decided Florida was good place to spend a lot of time so they acquired a string of small South Florida shows, mostly just for the mailing lists and the Exhibitor contracts. When Charlie died in 1997, followed soon after by her oldest son Arthur, Ida Mae forged a partnership with her two daughters and pressed on with her promotion of the Buterbaugh Antique Shows.
Today the partnership owns the Delray Beach South County Civic Show, the Jr. Women’s Club of Boca Raton Show and the brand new Palm Beach County Convention Center Show to premier December 12, 13, 14, 2003. In addition to her own shows Ida Mae participates as a dealer in several other shows including the dmg West Palm Beach Antiques Show (formerly known as Piccadilly), the dmg Miami Beach Show and Taylor Hoag’s Pompano show.
She is dedicated to bringing new blood, both dealers and collectors, to the trade. As an active participant in the Professional Show Manager’s Association program to instruct and guide new dealers, last season Ida Mae served as mentor to three new dealers, helping them get off to a good start in their new careers.
She also has some strong advice for her fellow lovers of the world of antiquing – “Do yourself a favor and learn your craft, learn your product and learn to cooperate with your promoters. You need to take it upon yourself to advertise your participation in a show in addition to that done by the promoter. Sales are no longer the result of just showing up – learn, learn, learn.”
About the author:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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