More than just a show. It is a place for old friends and colleagues to gather and share their passion for preserving history.
It is 4:30pm on a sunny Friday and outside of the Queens Park Arena in New Westminster, a rather long and lively line has formed. People are chatting, smiling, and waving to each other. Some are quietly making deals, while others discreetly lean in to see what is being sold and for how much. Doors are set to open soon for these eager dealers, collectors and secondhand shopping enthusiasts who don’t mind lining up to pay the $20 early bird fee for the first Fraser Valley Antiques and Collectible Club (FVACC) show in two years.
The show organizers, as well as the dealers, are also pleased to have the show back in person. However, as much as they are happy to showcase their antiques and collectibles, they are equally – if not more – thrilled to have the opportunity to also catch up with old friends and colleagues. “One of the most common themes that we heard over and over again was that they were able to see people that they hadn’t seen in a long time,” says Lorne Dennison who has served as President of the FVACC since 1998.
The doors to the rustic single story arena, built in 1930, open promptly at 5pm and the line moves quickly as show staff had come out to collect payment in advance. Attendees all receive a colourful wristband that will also give them access to the show all weekend. Inside, there is already a flurry of activity as the eager shoppers search for treasures. However, a few grumbles can be heard, as some of the most sought after items were bought and sold long before the doors opened to the public.
Members are all passionate about preserving history.Lorne Dennison
Established as a non-profit in 1984, the Fraser Valley Antiques and Collectible Club, and its 150 plus members, have been hosting regular meetings, publishing a bi-monthly newsletter called the “Holedown,” and up until recently held their antique and collectible show annually. However, they were finally able to bring the show back this past August and had over 200 tables with vendors selling a variety of vintage collectibles, memorabilia and antiques.
“Members,” according to Dennison, “are all passionate about preserving history.” Many initially got involved as bottle diggers and for several years, the show was known as the “bottle club show.” However, that eventually changed as membership grew to include people with a variety of interests and collections. Several members are still active bottle diggers today while others have long since given up digging, except maybe digging through thrift stores, garage sales and flea markets.
Several of the dealers at the show are FVACC members as they get priority for booking a table or booth. Non-members can also purchase tables, but there was a long waiting list for this particular show. Lydia Bellan, a past member and regular show dealer, was initially on the wait list and was “over the moon” when they called to let her know she got in. “Being back selling at the show,” according to Bellan, “was better than eating ice cream as a six year old.”
For Jason Vanderhill, a FVACC member since 2013 and editor for their newsletter, being able to have the show in person filled a huge void as the last few years were quite isolating for many. “Having the social aspect of the show return was a great sight,” says Vanderhill. “The show continues to evolve with new vendors eager to display their wares, though it’s also a bit bittersweet when long time members are no long able to attend, or are no longer with us.”
One of the club’s early founding members, Mike Wagner, was one of the people who was noticeably absent, and greatly missed, at this show. He passed away last December and according to Vanderhill, “Had some of the best local items in the club.” He was considered an expert on Vancouver and British Columbia memorabilia.
By all accounts, the Friday night preview was one of their best yet. “I think we hit the ball out of the park with this show,” says Dennison who estimates that they had close to 300 people attend as early birds. “There was really something for everyone at this show.” The show was also open on Saturday and Sunday for the regular admission fee of $5.
Overall, the show was considered a huge success on many levels. “It was excellent,” says Nancy Boltin who was there selling with her sister Norah Boltin. “It exceeded our expectations. There was such a diversity of people and they were all ready to buy something.” But for many, it was all about the people and Lydia Bellan summed it up perfectly, “It was like being at a high school reunion with old friends.”
The next FVACC show is set for April 21-22, 2023.
Reprinted with permission from Canadian Antiques & Vintage magazine. For subscription information to Canada’s only national antiques and vintage publication, please call toll-free 1.866.333.3397