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Run an Antiques Road Show Style Event

Antiques Roadshow has fostered many reality show spinoffs such as Pawn Stars, American Pickers and Cash & Cari, just to name a few. Yes, the world of antiques & collectibles continues to amuse and fascinate a large segment of the population because…well, we love junk!

We light up when we find an old painting in the attic, hoping it may be our retirement fund. Our blood pulses faster when a stash of coins is found hidden beneath the floorboards in the spare room, in hopes that it will put Jr. through college.

So it’s no wonder Antiques Roadshow is hugely popular. What if you could have your own antiques road show style event to raise money for your charity? Maybe you want to delight a roomful of clients with an “appreciation night” event (and woo new ones!)

The agenda for the events I run is as follows: I do a 20 minute talk on antiques & collectibles. Depending on the sponsor, I may go with a theme, such as: Antiques as Investments - great if an investment company is hosting.

After the talk, I’ll take questions, then I’ll do on the spot appraisals for items that folks have brought with them. I explain that these will be general evaluations, since research beforehand isn’t possible as it is on the Antiques Roadshow. An experienced antiques dealer/auctioneer should be able to give a good evaluation for 90% of the items that the avearage crowd brings in.

Having sold antiques & collectibles since the late 1970s, there’s not a lot of things that stump me on these appraisal evenings, but when one does I will often use if there’s a WiFi connection.

After the appraisals, I’ll usually do one of a few fun things to close, such as: Hold a mini-auction of a few items if the host is a charity or if it’s an appreciation night for clients/ prospective clients, I’ll have an awards. The Most Valuable - The Most Unusual - The Oldest.

Having a antiques roadshow style event is a fresh, fun, wonderful way to do this! Here’s how to run your own.

  • Hire an antiques dealer or auctioneer to do the appraisals. Make sure you get someone with a good general knowledge of the antiques world that can do a 15-20 minute talk beforehand and take questions. The livelier the personality the better and a sense of humor is mandatory!
  • Book a room at a local hotel or function room. I’ve found it works best if light food and drinks are served. Have a microphone and PA ready. If possible, have WiFi available.
  • Advertise the event via: Newsletters, email, hand bills and social media, newspaper ads. Besides the obvious where/when/what info, you’ll need to state your terms such as: How many items each person can bring and the fee if there is one, restrictions, (I don’t appraise firearms or stamps) a brief bio or statement of authority of the person doing the appraisals.
  • Set up the room with line of tables in front people to place there items, have a microphone available.
  • Make sure there is literature and contact forms for the group hosting the event. One company that hires me to do these events, always has a survey available to get feedback and to harvest contact info. Everyone fills them out because they are appreciative for the great time they’ve just had!
  • If you are going to have a mini auction, you’ll need a few items to auction off. If you’re going to have awards at the end for the most unusual etc., it’s tasteful to give out gift certificates as prizes, bonus if the certificates are from the room/hotel/resturant where the event takes place.

In the end, the most important thing, is to hire the right talent for the job. When searching for a speaker, you’d do well to consider personality and humor as the most important qualities. Shortly into the evening, you’ll see that the excitement comes from the people and the stories they have, it’s actually not so much about the stuff!

A good MC will work the room into a mood that makes the crowd ask the best question possible: When will you be doing this again?

Walt Kolenda is a MA auctioneer/antiques dealer/speaker who’s been in the business since the late 1970s.

He is available to do appraisal events, and to consult on them. You’ll find his contact info at and

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