This year has certainly upended the design industry like no other, and one of the biggest casualties was the major events that bring buyers, dealers, and interior designers together. All of the major spring and summer shows were cancelled, though we have enjoyed a few glimmers of hope, including the return of Round Top at the very end of October. Vintage and antique shoppers were out in full force — masks on and hand sanitizer handy, of course — making up for lost time and sourcing for their shops, their clients, and yes, themselves.
We spoke with two dealers who were at the recent show to get their take on what it was like to be there in person and what kinds of items were moving. Janine Witter owns Southern California-based BallyhooDesign, while Jennifer Aaronsen and her mother Karen Bogh own three brands: Rose Victoria, New England Mercantile, and The Queens Landing, respectively. See what they had to say about this season’s event, and be sure to check out our favorite Round Top dealers as well as a curation of some of our favorite Round Top finds.
What was the vibe like at this season’s show, during Covid?
Janine Witter: While we were there ahead of the biggest crowds, the vibe was very positive from both those buying and selling. Buyers were purchasing more and spending more.
Jennifer Aaronsen: The vibe was great! After months of lockdowns and quarantines, people were out and they were ready to shop. There were crowds everywhere, buses full of girls’ trips ready to party and the occasional celebrity sightings. The overall vibe was everyone was happy to have a small slice of normalcy back.
What were you sourcing for specifically?
JW: Things to sell on Chairish, of course! The European vendors in particular always bring product that is unique and fabulous and not available to us in our home markets.
JA: Normally, we are in Europe every six weeks shopping. With travel bans and quarantines, we’ve had to cancel all of our trips this year. So our list was long! We were shopping for holiday items, festive tabletop, dinnerware, barware and entertaining pieces for our Rose Victoria and The Queens Landing brands. Rustic farmhouse style is still hotter than ever, so we were shopping French and Americana home décor and tabletop pieces for our New England Mercantile brand.
Any positive takeaways from this unique market during Covid?
JW: Overall, there was a real determination to do business as usual and get back to it!
JA: Our friends who stand at the shows and the shop owners we met along the way said they had great sales and were extremely grateful for everyone who came out to support small businesses.
What trends did you see while shopping Round Top?
JW: I’d say the biggest trend was that we saw a lot of organic things… there were lots of natural materials and items that would be at home in different styles of decor.
JA: Tarnished silver-plates, trophies, serving trays, and candlesticks. Stag horn anything, horn-handled tabletop and office accessories, taxidermy horns, loose stag horn(s) groupings. Rustic with a touch of Hollywood glam crystal chandeliers with heavy metal figural animal hardware and embellishments. English Staffordshire dogs and figures, English and French white ironstone serving pieces; tureens, chargers, and pitchers.
How was approaching a day shopping at Round Top different this time around?
JW: The mask was different of course, but not oppressively so. Many of the venues are outdoors so that helps. Overall, there was a lot of enthusiasm by everyone just to be back at it!
JA: With lockdowns and mask requirements having been in effect for so long now, it was pretty much business as usual… just with a mask and more hand sanitizer than usual!
What is your vintage shopping motto?
JW: Unique, interesting, compelling. And if you really love it, buy it because it won’t be there two hours from now.
JA: We’ve been in the business for 25 years — our motto is when in doubt, walk away! If you know what you are looking for, do a simple Internet search to educate yourself on the basics of authenticity and if something doesn’t feel authentic, walk away because it usually isn’t.
What is your favorite vintage piece that you found at Round Top this year?
JW: We found this fabulous modern painting by Ender Tasci with vivid hues that could work in a variety of spaces. One of those “do I keep it or sell it?” moments.
JA: That’s a hard question; we bought a lot of really great stuff! I would have to say the framed French Parfumerie advertisement sign from the 1889 Paris Exhibition, for the launch of Roger & Gallet’s Peau d’Espagne perfume. It’s burgundy velvet with embossed gold writing. The dealer we purchased it from was very sad to see it go, as she was torn between keeping it for herself.
Lead photo by Janine Witter of Ballyhoo Design