South-Western College Publishing - Economics  
Antiques Fair Well? It Depends on the Size
Subject Comparative statics
Topic Supply and Demand
Key Words Prices, charge, sell
News Story

Television shows such as Antiques Roadshow and web sites such as that of eBay are encouraging more people to become collectors of antiques and collectibles. Attendance at large antique fairs is booming. For example, the Brimfield, Massachusetts, show began in 1959 in one field. Now the show uses over 21 fields for six days three times a year, and attracts 4,000 dealers and 60,000 to 100,000 people per show. "Atlantique City" began in 1986 in a small convention hall; now it covers the equivalent of 12 football fields in Atlantic City's Boardwalk Convention Hall and has doubled the number of dealers. Ticket prices have risen from $4.50 to $27 for the weekend.

Smaller antique shows have not had the same success. They have to charge dealers as much as $1,000, compared to a few hundred dollars at large shows. Also the large shows attract more shoppers. As a result, some dealers have resorted to selling on eBay instead, where it is cheaper to sell and more consumers can be contacted.

(Updated May 1, 2000)

1. Draw a price-quantity diagram of the market for antique shows. Add the supply and demand curves and mark the initial equilibrium price.
  a) How has the excitement over Antiques Roadshow affected the market for antique shows? Explain which curve has been affected and why.
  b) What has happened to the equilibrium price and quantity as a result? Illustrate on your diagram.
2. Draw a supply and demand diagram of the market for small antique shows. Mark the initial equilibrium.
  a) Which determinant of supply in the market for small antique shows has been affected by eBay?
  b) Illustrate the effect of eBay on the equilibrium price and quantity of small antique shows.
3. The news story states that a dealer has to pay more to sell at a small antique show. Draw two supply and demand diagrams, one of the market for antiques traded at small shows and one of the market for antiques traded at large shows. Assume that the demand curves are identical. Draw the supply curves, taking into account the difference in the charges levied on dealers by the organizers of small and large shows.
  a) How is the equilibrium price of antiques different between the two types of shows?
  b) How is the equilibrium quantity different as a result, everything else being equal? Why?
  c) In practice, the demand curves are not the same. If demand were greater at large antique shows, how would the price differential noted in (a) be affected?
Source Maria Puente, "The future of antiques shows keeps getting bigger," USA Today, March 20, 2000.

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