By Peter Suciu
The 2016 SOS lives up to the name
The Show of Shows (SOS) typically lives up to the name. It is the largest militaria show under one roof anywhere in the world, and this year it was the Show of Shows like never before. It was in its biggest hall to date with just shy of 2,000 tables, which equaled more than a mile and a half of aisles to navigate filled high with military collectibles from numerous eras.
For dealers it was about making sales, whilst for collectors it was about finding that must have item. If you couldn't find it at this show it was probably because you didn't look hard enough. Based on opinions from each there was little to complain about this year – as noted the hall was bigger, the weather mild and the show staff was friendly as ever.
About the only damper for dealers was that the weaker Euro in the global economy kept some – but certainly not all – European collectors away. Moreover, despite the continuous warnings that the "hobby is dying" and that "there aren't enough young collectors," this year's show suggested otherwise – on both counts. Collectors were spending and more than a few younger faces could be seen browsing. This year saw dealers and collectors come from parts near and very far, and here is what some attendees had to say:
"It is always an excellent show. This year was a little slower, mainly because of the weaker Euro. That affect sales a little, but there was still a lot to see and buy."
- George Petersen of Virginia
"There was a great international flavor, both in the items and customers. This was my first Show of Shows as a dealer but it won't be my last."
- Rick Stroud of North Carolina
"It was a fantastic show! What else could I say. It was the Show of Shows and this year it lived up to the name."
- Hal Williams of Ohio
"It was a great show as usual. I found some treasure, and the only downside is that there was too much to buy. There was so much more stuff than I could possibly purchase or afford. I can't wait for next year and hopefully I'll have more money."
- Gus Bryngelson of Idaho
"It was another excellent show. I was able to acquire several missing pieces for the museum's collection, so it was well worth the time spent traveling to Louisville."
- Doran Cart, curator of the National World War I Museum in Kansas City
"This was the best militaria show I've been to in years. I found items I thought I would never find like an Israeli hitelmacher cap. I hope to come back for many years."
- Rich Natonski of Virginia
"There were so many amazing items at the show this year. Sales seemed reasonably strong and there was a lot of foot traffic. The new hall is really well laid out too and easy to navigate."
- Ralph Pickard of Virginia
"It was fantastic in all regards. I did great business, really the best in years and saw a lot of old friends and met with new shoppers. As a shopper I found items I never expected to see like a Confederate Le Mat pistol. I looked for one for 30 years and finding it really made the show for me."
- Ed Pohl of Minnesota
"This year's SOS was a good one with over 2,000 tables and a great atmosphere. The abundance of collectible items is huge, you meet many collectors from all over the world and you share your common interest with your Internet forum members. The show brings you an experience to see and handle lot of militaria items which is very valuable in your learning process to avoid future bad purchases. For all militaria collectors, the SOS is a 'Mecca' and a must for all of you to at last once in your collecting career."
- Jan M. Meland, Norwegian author and helmet collector
"The new hall is great took us two full days to see every table, we purchased so much we had to rent a cube truck and drive it back to New Jersey."
- Alex Cranmer, International Military Antiques (IMA-USA.com) of New Jersey
"As a dealer I brought a mix of expensive and inexpensive items to sell and I made sales at all levels and feel I did pretty well. As a collector I had a few acquisitions that were not on my want list but were impulse buys and good additions to my collection. (One) item was five tables away from mine and I saw it 10 minutes after the dealer put it out on his table. I had to own it and now it is in my collection."
- Keith Gill of Michigan
"The show was great, and love the new hall with everyone in it, aisles where wide and made getting around easy. New room and lots of changes. OVMS handled it very well and it should be even better next year."
- James LeBrasseur of Minnesota
"SOS delivered again, with great sales and even better purchases. For those of you who still don't attend, shame on you! Great job OVMS staff and family"
- Scott Kraska, Bay State Militaria of Massachusetts
"SOS 2016 was outstanding. I was with the War Writers' Campaign, a literary not for profit which publishes veteran's writings and those of their family members. We met some terrific veterans who expressed interest in the organization and developed multiple contacts which will expand the base of the organization."
- Tom Spier of New York
"It is definitely a show well worth attending. The transition to the new hall went very smoothly , the OVMS staff were professional and easy to work with. One suggestion I would make would be to advertise the show locally through billboards and other media to encourage people to bring in their militaria to sell or trade."
- Doug McKain of California
"This was my ninth SOS show I visit and it's always great to find nice stuff, but more important to me is meeting people who became friend over the years. Of course I like to add some nice U.S. helmets to my collection as I did once again this year. So it was great SOS again."
- Paul Reijnders of the Netherlands