NAPLES — The organizer of the first Naples Art, Antique & Jewelry Show said last weekend's success suggests there's plenty of room for his show in the Naples marketplace.
The show drew more than 10,000 people, a surprisingly high number for a first attempt, said organizer Scott Diament, president and CEO of the Palm Beach Show Group.
"The attendance exceeded any expectations we had," said Diament. "I think people appreciated us bringing the event that close to where they are, within the city of Naples."
The show was the first of two art and antique shows scheduled for this month.
Bonita Springs organizer David Lester will hold his second Naples International Art & Antique Fair at the Naples International Pavilion on Immokalee Road next weekend, from Feb. 23 to 28.
Diament said his show's location, closer to downtown, helped him carve out a niche in the market.
The four-day event was held in a 40,000-square-foot, climate-controlled tent set up on an 11-acre piece of vacant land at 201 Goodlette-Frank Road South.
Almost 70 exhibitors sold a wide variety of art and antiquities, including jewelry, furniture, sculpture, paintings and porcelain during the show.
Diament said valets parked more than 450 cars on opening night.
"Our ticket sales are usually not very high," he said. "We usually mail out a lot of the tickets to certain people we think will be interested. But we sold 80 percent of the tickets that we usually sell for the Palm Beach show. That told us that Naples is what we call an under-served market."
Diament's larger Palm Beach show, being held this weekend, has operated for the past nine years and features about 180 exhibitors, he said.
Diament said vendors at the Naples show were pleased. Many of them have rented booths at his Palm Beach event, as well.
"Whether they sold 10 times their booth rent or didn't even make their rent, they saw that Naples is the place to be for this kind of show," he said. "The friendly sophistication of the Naples marketplace surprised some of them."
Diament said he didn't see much difference in the types of items that sold well in Naples, in comparison to other shows.
"Paintings sold, jewelry sold, antiquities sold. I think it was pretty much the same items that sell in Palm Beach," he said. "We did have one vendor offering antique American wicker furniture and I think he sold his whole booth."
Michael Teller of TK Asian Antiquities said a rare 500-year-old book with gold pages and inscribed with sutras was one of his top sales during the show.
Teller, based in Williamsburg, Va., said he was impressed by the crowd's knowledge and taste.
"We met some of the most interesting people we have ever met," he said. "I spent nine hours with one couple and four hours with another couple. Naples has proven itself in interest and intellect."
Diament said he spent five years looking for the right location in Naples and organizing the show.
"The comments I got and the feeling I got from the crowd was that they had never attended an event quite like this in Naples," he said. "I felt really good about that. We'll come back."