Even though I know better, sometimes I think vintage iron is a secret society, complete with password and handshake. Don't get me wrong: Collectors of old farm equipment are the friendliest people I've ever met, anywhere, anytime. But astonishing numbers of people have never even heard of this hobby.
That would be easier to understand if collectors never got together. But each year, more than 1,200 shows and swap meets are held across the country, and that number is still growing. And it would be easier to understand if collectors were, uh, not given to conversation. But the vast majority of you are and I mean this in a positive way! happy to talk about your collections.
Moreover, the importance of new recruits is a common theme in these circles. Many collectors are actively looking for a novice to raise; someone who'll carry on the hobby, someone to share the tricks of the trade with.
What gets lost in the shuffle? The general public. How actively do you promote your shows to people who are looking for an interesting outing? I've heard some break down show attendance into two categories: ' Collectors' and 'tourists.' Collectors make the show: There's no question of that. But there's nothing wrong with tourists: just ask the folks around Orlando.
When your club has a show, or when you go to a show, why not do a little one-on-one salesmanship to a young family in your church? Or the empty-nesters down the block, or the retirees you've known all your life? If those folks have no rural background, you get bonus points. You're not going to rope in the next generation of collectors, but you will be spreading the word about the rich heritage of American agriculture.
What would happen if each club member were given two free tickets to pass along to first-time visitors? If they're not used, you're not out anything. If they are, you've broadened the scope of your show, and drummed up extra business for your concessions operators.
You know how much fun shows are: They're family oriented, chock full of history, fresh air and sunshine, friendly people and great food. Don't hide that light under a basket: Spread the word!