With the rapidly approaching 25th anniversary Grove Park Inn Arts & Crafts Conference, I am often being asked how we managed to survive two major recessions, five United States presidents, the bursting of the dot-com bubble, and a general decline of interest in antiques.
It’s a question — and a phenomenon — I do not take lightly. And while I could — and do — expound on the uniqueness of the historic 1913 Grove Park Inn, Asheville’s rare combination of funkiness, charm, innocence, trendiness and history, our carefully-honed seminar presentations, and booths brimming with affordable Arts & Crafts, both vintage and contemporary, those are but decorations on the tree. Each contributes, but at the core is a simple truth:
People don’t collect Arts & Crafts because it’s different.
People collect Arts & Crafts because they’re different.
Other people hunt trophies: objects they can place on a shelf, that fill a specific slot: a coin, a stamp, an autograph, a book, a pattern, a commemorative.
We live with what we collect.
We sit in them, we eat on them, we walk on them, we work on them, we even sleep in them.
We get excited about them.
And we love to share that excitement with others who are just as weird as we are.
And so it is that one of the reasons why we have not just survived, but have grown and flourished for 25 years, is the sharing of that excitement, of the information we have collected about that which we collect.
That excitement, that sharing takes places each day at the Grove Park Inn Arts & Crafts Conference in what we have called our Small Group Discussions. I turn the hotel upside down and inside out, searching for any available meeting room, banquet space, large closet, or small hallway nook or cranny that I can assign a topic, a time and a discussion leader. These are not presentations. No reservations are necessary. We publish them on our website and in the catalog, you pick the ones you like, and you simply show up, take a seat, and share the excitement.
Over the years we have had more than 600 Small Group Discussions on every imaginable topic.
Know how many of those 600 Small Group Discussions I have led?
They are led by volunteers, people just like yourself who have an interest, a passion in some aspect of Arts & Crafts, people who want to meet and get to know others who share that excitement.
And so it is that this month we are finding those empty rooms, assigning them a topic and a discussion leader, and typing them into the Conference Catalog.
So, please, this is the time to email us a suggestion and, if you are so inclined, to offer to start the discussion by doing nothing more than introducing yourself to 10, 15 or 20 people like yourself gathered in a room for an hour to talk about something you love.
Not because it’s different.
But because we’re different.
Until next Monday,
Have a great week!
Next Week: On Wednesday I’m headed out to New Mexico and up to Utah, filming a few shows and visiting my son, but always on the lookout for Arts & Crafts. Check in Monday to see what I find.