Most nonprofit organizations would consider themselves fortunate if they had someone willing to run a fundraiser for a few years in a row. As anyone who has ever been involved in a charity event will tell you, they’re exhausting.
That’s why it’s all the more impressive that, this week, April Thede will celebrate her 20th year at the helm of the CALM Antiques & Vintage Show and Sale.
That’s right, she’s been running between three antique show fundraisers a year for the past 20 years!
Longtime CALM (Child Abuse & Listening Mediation) supporters Mary Ellen Trainor Zemeckis, Tab Hunter and Jonathan Winters, along with the CALM Auxiliary, will honor Thede at a cocktail party and antiques show preview from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday at Earl Warren Showgrounds.
Thede’s involvement with CALM dates to 1972, when she quit teaching in the Goleta Union School District (she taught at Isla Vista, Ellwood and La Patera schools) and become an active community volunteer. That year she joined both the Junior League of Santa Barbara and the CALM Auxiliary, which was just starting up.
She smiles at the memory.
“Joanne Holderman said they were starting an auxiliary and about six women were involved,” she recalled. “I went to this coffee and they said, ‘How would you like to be first vice president?’ And I said, ‘I’m here for a doughnut and a cup of coffee but I’ll work with you guys.’
“That’s how it started. It’s 40 years this year.”
One of CALM’s first fundraisers was an arts and crafts show that Thede chaired with Beverly Raber.
“I ended up in charge of Christmas crafts because I happened to have a room with a pool table that had a top on it,” she said. “So for five or six months out of the year my husband couldn’t play pool because the table was covered with Christmas stuff.”
After about 10 years, the auxiliary decided to stage a miniatures and doll show instead. Thede volunteered to be in charge, beginning what has been a more than 30-year relationship between CALM and Earl Warren Showgrounds.
“The first show we filled it,” she said. “I had 120-some dealers selling miniature stuff and dollhouses, and people selling collectible dolls and anything doll-, miniature- and teddy bear-related.”
She laughs when asked if she’s a miniature or dollhouse collector.
“Not at all!” she exclaimed. “It wasn’t my thing and antiques aren’t my thing either!”
Nevertheless, starting in 1980, Thede ran the Miniature and Doll Show at Earl Warren Showgrounds for 12 successful years. In 1992, she began the CALM Antique and Decorative Arts Show and Sale.
With the help of two Los Angeles show promoters, E.E. Bustamante and Jim McKenzie of the Dorothy Emerson Antique Show & Sale in Santa Monica, the first CALM antiques show debuted and has evolved into one of the most sought-after shows on the West Coast. The show — which is held annually in October, January and May — hosts more than 80 national and international dealers who consistently bring a large selection and variety of merchandise, including period furniture, garden artifacts, decorative accessories, paintings, estate jewelry, silver, textiles, linens, glassware, china and porcelain. About 80 percent to 90 percent of the vendors return for all three shows, says Thede.
CALM makes money from the dealers who rent the space and from admissions, but it does not take a percentage of anything the dealers sell. As far as their experience goes, it’s much the same as at any professional antiques show.
“When we start out it looks like a carnival in there,” she said of the display hall. “All of these pegboards will be painted all sorts of colors from the fair ... and it’s really fun to see Earl Warren transform into a beautiful display room.”
When she’s not working on the show, Thede likes to play golf at La Cumbre Country Club. She and her husband, Jerry, a retired partner at Price, Postel & Parma LLP, like to go to Harry’s Plaza Café for dinner. They also have a beach house on the Oregon coast, where they spend a lot of their time.
While Thede has put most of her entrepreneurial energy toward CALM fundraising, she did once co-own a boutique gift shop on Upper State Street called The Patchworks.
“It was one of those things where you could go to the gift show and buy a lot of cool stuff,” she said. “And then you had a place you could get rid of it!”
The CALM Antiques & Vintage Show and Sale runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 19-20 and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 21 at Earl Warren Showgrounds, 3400 Calle Real in Santa Barbara. Click here for more information.