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News Article
Under 25? Free admission to Fox Valley
by Starr Miller

ST. CHARLES, Ill. — Debbie McArdle understands the future of the antiques and collectibles industry, and that’s due in part to her memory. She remembers what it was like to be a young woman in the 1970s with modest financial means, “picking” her way into furnishing her first apartment. She remembers – after filling her own living space – hauling items to and from antique dealers, selling her found wares. And she remembers opening her very first antique shop.

“I started in this industry when I was 20 years old,” McArdle says. “I started out of necessity because I didn’t make enough money for any new thing, and honestly, I liked the old things. First I was a picking. Then I was wholesaling to antiques dealers. So by 1981, I had my first shop.”

It was during this time that McArdle , albeit unknowingly, sowed seeds with the Fox Valley Antiques Show and Sale – seeds that would much later grow into a full grown love affair with the show – and the antiques and collectibles industry as a whole.

She now sits at the helm of the Chicago Suburban Antiques Dealers Association as their publicist, and together, they are razor-sharp focused on a very specific generation of show-goers for their upcoming Fox Valley Antiques Show and Sale.

“We are very much looking forward to inviting the 20-something crowd,” McArdle said. “There are so many reasons this generation is important to us – to our show – to the overall industry as a whole. Because we are nonprofit organization, part of our mission is to educate. And we realize that if we don’t get the younger generation interested than we won’t have someone here to take care of these antiques when we are gone.”

The 2018 Spring Fox Valley Antiques Show & Sale will be hosted March 10 and 11 at the Kane County Fairgrounds, 525 South Randall Road, St. Charles, Ill. Steeped in history for 61 years, the Fox Valley Show has been providing decorators, collectors and dealers alike with affordable, authentic 17th, 18th, 19th and early-20th Century antiques carefully gathered, researched and authenticated by 55 invitation-only dealers from 15 states.

In addition to all those assets, McArdle says show organizers will do more than just hope young buyers will come.

“We really want to introduce the 20-something generation to history, family-friendly antiques and the thrill of the hunt. So we are offering free admission to those 25 and under or others with a current student ID.”

This facet of the Fox Valley show is one of intimate importance to McArdle. Because, you see, she remembers being a young person at the Fox Valley Show.

“I started going to the Fox Valley Show in the mid 1970s — and this is another reason why I identify with the show and the younger generation of buyers. The Chicago Dealers Association – we want to educate. You see, I could go to the show in 1975, or 1995, or even this year. And I could walk up to the dealers and ask questions and they are all so very knowledgeable. I always think of the question, ’why should I care about this piece or that piece?’ I want dealers to share the history of pieces. It’s literally what you gain for the price of admission. That’s why we identify Fox Valley as a show and a sale. You don’t have to come to this show with endless amounts of disposable income to enjoy yourself, to learn something new – to even walk away with something fantastic. You can come and leave more educated about this incredible world of antiques and collectibles.”

McArdle is quick to note that the show organizers and dealers alike are also grateful for buyers outside of the 20-something focus group. And in keeping with their rich 61 year history, they intend to present a show that boasts true antique treasures, and caters to the distinct and knowledgeable tastes of the “older” buyers as well.

“Fifty or so years ago, folks didn’t really have to worry so much about reproductions,” McArdle said. “There’s a lot of confusion about what items are considered antiques. I read that a collectible is considered 49 years old. Vintage is an item 49-99 years old, and an antique is 99 years or older. So what sets us apart in this show is that the majority of items will be pre 1920 pieces. And every single item is authentic. We require our dealer partners to identify each piece under the categories of collectible, vintage or antique. And buyers will receive a written sales receipt with each purchase that shows what they got. If you buy something, go home and do some research and find that the piece isn’t exactly what you thought you were getting, then you can call our show and we will make a resolution for that situation. That’s how serious we are about it. The show is by invitation only by way of dealers – we vet these folks, and all of their items. We have dealers who are well qualified and passionate about antiques. This show isn’t about us making money – it’s about sharing the love of antiques.”

Tickets for the Fox Valley show are available online or at the door. The group is offering a $2 savings by buying online at and click on the ticket icon to make your purchase. Proceeds from admission to the show benefits local historical preservation and education endeavors.

A catered lunch is available and there will also be free parking at the show. For more information email:

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