The Original Miami Beach Antique Show is one of the longest-running and most popular antique and jewelry shows in the country. With more than 700 vendors, the show offers a wealth of unique pieces and information for collectors. Public relations representative Michelle Orman joined the Jewelry Journey podcast to talk about the history of the show, its venue and how attendees can make the most of their visit. Read the transcript below.
Sharon: Hello everyone, welcome to the Jewelry Journey podcast. Today, I’m pleased to welcome Michelle Orman, who is the public relations representative for The Original Miami Beach Antique Show, put on by Emerald Expositions. She has represented the show for several years and seen it through different iterations and locations. Today, she’ll tell us about this year’s show—or next year’s show, really, in 2020—and why you should consider making your way to Miami in early January. Michelle, welcome to the program.
Michelle: Thank you so much. I’m thrilled to be here.
Sharon: So glad to have you. Can you tell us about your position in relation to The Original Miami Beach Antique Show?
Michelle: Sure. I handle the press and communications for the show. I work with the press who attend the show and try to get them to attend and write about it. I also work with show management on the creation of added-value initiatives that we have with the show. We do a couple of tours—we do a jewelry tour; we do an antique furniture tour. This year we’re also adding some public education in addition to the education that takes place during the jewelry history series.
Sharon: Wow, sounds interesting! Why is it called “The Original”?
Michelle: We’re now in our 56th year, so I don’t know who we’d actually be able to ask why they called it The Original Miami Beach Antique Show, although a lot of our vendors are third generation, fourth generation. Some of them have been coming to this show since they were in baby carriages. Their parents were taking them for that many years. It really is The Original Miami Beach Antique Show. I think there are other antique shows that take place, but this is the original.
Sharon: I know there are other shows in Miami, and I know that people have corrected me when I’ve said the Miami Beach Antique Show, and they go, “No, The Original.”
Michelle: That’s exactly right.
Sharon: What are the dates of the show in 2020?
Michelle: This year, the show dates are pretty early, January 4th to the 8th. The reason we have those early dates—it typically is either the end of January or the beginning of February. It varies slightly year to year, but this year the Super Bowl is taking place in Miami, so the Convention Center is reserved for a lot of activities surrounding the Super Bowl.
Sharon: Oh sure, yeah.
Michelle: I guess the Super Bowl’s a bigger deal than our show—I mean, not in my world, but—
Sharon: Yeah, I understand. I would not want to try and get a hotel room in Miami during the Super Bowl, oh my gosh!
Sharon: The Miami Convention Center, where the show’s held was recently renovated, and—is this going to be the third year there again?
Michelle: No, this is only our second year back in our original home. We were there for many, many, many years, and then they shut down completely for a couple of years in order to undergo, I think, a $600 million renovation. It is truly spectacular, but we’re delighted to be back in their new and improved venue. They’ve maintained so much of the original Art Deco architecture that makes the building so special, but everything else is state of the art in terms of the facilities.
Sharon: I’m looking forward to seeing it. I was there the year before they closed it, I think. What kind of improvements did they make?
Michelle: I think just general improvements. From our perspective, everything’s elevated, in terms of security and cleanliness and the overall—it got a complete makeover. Like I said, they maintained a lot of the original architecture, but the lobby area is spectacular now and they’re continuing to develop it. I’m interested to see it this year, because I know they are continuing to work on areas outside of the Convention Center, so there’s a lot of green space. It makes it very easy for visitors to Miami Beach to wander off the beach and over to the Convention Center and through these beautiful green spaces. Outside and inside, it’s gotten a really extensive facelift.
Sharon: Well, I’m looking forward to seeing it. I’m not sure people can wander right off the beach. It’s not like you get a Coke on the beach and then walk right in. It’s not a hike, but it’s still a little bit of a distance, at least if I remember.
Michelle: Yeah, it is. I think it’s probably five blocks from the beach, but like I said, all of the area around it is improving. Obviously, it’s in a metropolitan area, so you want to make sure you’re conscious of your safety and all of that stuff, but everything around it—a lot of the hotels have been renovated around it, and other buildings and restaurants have been popping up. The entire area is on the up and up.
Sharon: It sounds very interesting. How many vendors come to the show? I know they come from all over the world.
Michelle: We have over 700 domestic and international vendors. They do come from throughout the United States and throughout Europe and Asia and South America. It’s a broad range of people from all over the globe.
Sharon: What percentage is jewelry, because it’s antiques and jewelry?
Michelle: It varies and I know we’re 95% sold in terms of our vendors. They are still adding a handful of people, but I would say right now it’s about 70% jewelry and 30% other things. I think it’s because we took a few-year hiatus where we were at the Fair Grounds. That was a beautiful home for us for a couple of years while the Convention Center underwent major construction, but I think being back in the Convention Center, it’s becoming increasingly attractive to other categories: arts and home décor and even some vintage fashion and silver, porcelain, ceramics, that kind of thing.
Sharon: Why should somebody, a jewelry aficionado or an antique aficionado or both, why should they consider attending?
Michelle: It is a spectacular treasure hunt. That’s what I always say. You go there to find the thing you didn’t know you had to have. It’s a dangerous place to go, actually, from that perspective. I think what sets The Original Miami Beach Antique Show apart, as with all of our U.S. antique shows, is the intelligence and the wealth of knowledge of all our vendors. They really are experts in their fields. You’ve heard the expression “an inch long and a mile deep.” These people know more than anybody else in the world about whatever category it is they represent, and they’re also more than delighted to share their knowledge with anyone that comes into the show. Even if you don’t walk away with a treasure, you’re going to walk away with a wealth of knowledge. As you become more educated with respect to antiques and collectables, you have this foundational knowledge that makes you feel empowered to start making purchases and either start a collection or expand on a collection. These are the people that can guide you in that, whether you’re interested in Art Deco jewelry or Asian antiques. It really runs the gamut. These people are the smartest in their areas of expertise.
Sharon: Having talked to a lot of them, they are extremely knowledgeable, that’s true. I feel like you have to warn people when they come that it’s, I think, four football fields large.
Michelle: It is huge, yeah. It’s probably a good idea to be strategic. I don’t know exactly how I would recommend someone start, but I would say to make sure you allow yourself enough time. I think it would be important to make a quick—I don’t mean quick, but as a quick as you can—but do a little recon walk, and walk through the aisles and see what might catch your eye. Then, if you are interested in making a purchase, narrowing down which vendors you want to visit with further.
Sharon: I think that’s a good way to do it. I know when my friend and I go, she usually grabs the catalogue first thing and checks off the dealers she wants to go visit, because it’s very easy to overlook people there.
Michelle: Yeah, it really is. I think that’s a great idea, especially if you have a vendor you’ve heard of or that you’ve worked with in the past. Absolutely, make sure you go see those people you know or that you’re interested in knowing, but also, I think it’s important to leave yourself a little bit of time to discover somebody you might not have considered working with. If you see an item or a piece of jewelry that catches your attention, make sure you carve out some time for those happy situations where you find something that you didn’t know that you wanted.
Sharon: Right, exactly. You have to build in some time to just wander.
Michelle: Yeah, exactly.
Sharon: You just don’t know what you’re going to find. I think too, at some point, your eyes start to glaze over.
Michelle: Yeah, so take some time there. Get a bite to eat and sit down. Thankfully, all of the concessions are there and you don’t really have to leave the building. Like I said, there’s a beautiful park across the street if you want to step outside for some fresh air and then come back in and re-look at everything.
Sharon: It’s definitely in a very pretty area. Even looking at the building from the outside is really amazing.
Michelle: It’s spectacular. It’s really breathtaking.
Sharon: I know a few years ago, the organization started the Jewelry History Conference Series, or you might call it the Jewelry History Series. What prompted Emerald Expositions to start that with the show? You also talk about different furniture. I don’t know if you’re having a formal conference. How did you come about starting the Jewelry History Series?
Michelle: I think it’s because we do have so many jewelry aficionados that come to the show. They’re hungry for knowledge and like we’ve been talking about, it can be very overwhelming. There are hundreds of vendors that you could meet with. I think narrowing that down or condensing the knowledge you might get over the span of five days of wandering the show into a two-day conference, led by these incredible experts—Elyse and Gail bring in these fantastic people to speak—it helps people either start gaining knowledge or deepening their knowledge. Once again, I feel like establishing a foundation of knowledge helps people feel empowered when they go out there to shop. That was the impetus for creating the Jewelry History Series.
Sharon: Knowledge is power, as you were saying. When you say Elyse, that’s Elyse Zorn Karlin and Gail Brett Levine, who spearhead the conference. We’ve had them on the podcast. It sounds fabulous. No matter what show you go to, everybody goes, “Are you going to Miami?” and everybody knows what you’re talking about. Either you are or you aren’t, but you say Miami and everybody knows. For the shows that are open to the public, it is the show, from what I understand.
Michelle: Yeah, its reputation precedes it. It’s long been one of those things I’d always heard of. Before even working with the show, it was a destination to go to every year, and frankly, who doesn’t want to go down to Miami in January or February? We’re all freezing in New York or wherever else.
Sharon: We’re in Los Angeles, so I can’t make the same case for it, except for the jewelry. Michelle, thank you so much for being here. To everybody listening, we’ll have a link to the Original Miami Beach Antique Show in the show notes at TheJewelryJourney.com and a link to Michelle’s contact information.
That wraps up another episode of The Jewelry Journey. If you like what you heard and would like to hear more, you can subscribe on iTunes or wherever you download your podcasts, and please review us. We’ll be back next time with another thought-provoking guest giving us their professional take on the world of jewelry. Thank you so much for listening.
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