Drawing A Line in the Sand
Welcome to this issue of The Carnival Pump! I hope this issue finds you enjoying the onset of summer and planning to have fun with family and friends in the next several months, including (I hope) the search for that elusively rare piece of carnival glass that will get people talking or maybe even fill a hole in your collection. Summer time in the United States is filled with recreational activities, and for many of us, looking for carnival glass is one of our favorite forms of recreation. I would like to pose to you another activity that I find equally exhilarating and frustrating, yet incredibly rewarding: looking for carnival glass collectors.
Looking through the membership list of ICGA, as well as other carnival glass clubs, and while attending several carnival conventions, I notice that it really is a small world after all. I love the carnival glass association community, and it isn’t very often that I meet someone new at a convention (but when I do, it’s an amazing thing). As you may know, I helped organize a new group last year called Hooked on Carnival, which is looking for those people who collect carnival glass who are not members of a carnival glass club, and don’t attend conventions, and I’m trying to show them (using their methods, likes, and languages) why people like you and me (who belong to a club) are pretty cool. The idea, of course, is to “invite them to the party.”
One person asked me recently how I was sure they were even out there. If they weren’t in the conventions and rosters, then how could they exist? In the past year, I have had a few conversations that made me suspect there was this big crowd out there. I chatted with authors about book sales, and I was told that one of the early editions of Bill Edwards’ Encyclopedia of Carnival Glass sold over 40,000 copies (which is a tremendous number)! I have heard that the carnival glass auctioneers have mailing lists of carnival people that are in the thousands (when no club I know of these days has near that many people in their rosters anymore). I also know that I have seen some people at auctions before who I still don’t know (and haven’t been able to meet).
I then looked at Facebook. The Tampa Bay Carnival Glass Club’s Facebook page had over 2,000 followers, and ICGA’s own Facebook page has gone past 1,800 followers. We started the Hooked on Carnival Facebook page and it currently has around 5,600 followers (which is a number that, I believe, has more people than in all the United States carnival clubs combined). What really surprised me, though, was when I started digging into the information about the people who follow the Facebook page. I thought that, perhaps, they would be from exotic countries like China, Thailand or Russia. I was totally wrong!
93% of the followers are in the United States. 92% of the followers are women. Roughly 90% of the followers are in the “midwest” portion of the United States, including tons of followers in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana and Ohio (with even more in Nebraska, Wisconsin, Colorado and Pennsylvania).
In other words, the overwhelming majority of these people are in our figurative backyard. And even better, having looked through the names of all 5600-ish followers, I know very, very few of them. These are not people who have attended a convention, nor are they the ones you see hanging out at the auctions. And almost all of them own some carnival glass and want to know more about it.
Do you see the opportunity here? It turns out ICGA is a big fish in a VERY BIG lake. And we haven’t done a successful job of bringing in more people. That’s what needs to change. It’s something we all can make work, but it requires effort from each of us. Open your homes and show off your glass. Chat about the amazing articles you have read in the last issue of The Carnival Pump, about the fun you had at the last convention. Let them know that joining a club can be a wonderful thing and that a $15 membership fee (for the electronic version of The Carnival Pump) is a pittance compared to the tremendous amount of education and future friendships they can build with their memberships. And invite them to attend the convention next month with you. Holding carnival glass and meeting some cool people may be all they need to become one of us.
So in closing, it’s time for you to draw a line in the sand and invite as many as you can to cross that line into the world of organized carnival glass collecting. Work to have them join our family, so that ICGA will live for another 50 years (imagine that 100th Anniversary in fifty years)! Have a great summer and we will chat more about this at the 50th Anniversary kick-off in Shipshewana!!