China business picks up during Pageant season

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 28, 2010

NATCHEZ — At H. Hal Garner Antiques there are two seasons for china patterns — weddings and Pageant.

The queens, kings, pages and court members for the annual spring Historic Natchez Pageant register for china patterns, crystal stemware and other dining accessories to commemorate their role in the Natchez tradition.

“The tradition is so unique to Natchez and that makes it a lot of fun for the young people,” H. Hal Garner sales associate Beverly Jenkins said.

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Jenkins said she encourages the participants to come in early just to look around, because she understands the process of picking patterns can be a difficult.

“It can overwhelm them to walk in and see all the patterns and look at all the different choices and have to pick something they will still be happy with in 10 years,” Jenkins said. “If we can get them started looking early, we can usually guide them to a good selection.”

And starting early is important since as soon as Pageant royalty is announced, Jenkins beings getting phone calls and store visits from customers looking to purchase Pageant gifts.

“Traffic is really heavy right now for Pageant,” Jenkins said. “But it has been since right after the announcements were made. This is a big time of year for us because so many people are buying gifts for different people or events associated with Pageant.

Andrea Bradford, mother of Natchez Garden Club Queen Rebecca Brown, said picking out china and crystal was one of the most exciting parts of preparing for her reign as NGC queen.

“She went in four or five times and mixed and matched and played with china at Hal Garner’s,” Bradford said. “She really had a good time with it and became very familiar with the different pieces of china.”

Brown registered for china, crystal and several pieces of Annieglass sculptural glass dinner and serveware.

“This is something very special to Natchez and very special to (Rebecca),” Bradford said. “She is having a blast with it.”

Jenkins said making several trips to the store if often necessary so the sales staff can properly guide customers when they come in looking for gifts.

She said in the consultations with those registered she gets a sense of their personality and can tell customers what items are their favorites.

“When they come in and look we get an idea of what they like,” she said. “It gives us a direction to go in that we can work with.”

For the girls registering for Pageant gifts, the whole process is exciting, but, Jenkins said, the guys take a little longer to warm up to the process.

But eventually, she said, they do find things they like and some even enjoy the process.

“I explain to them that it is something they will need when they get out of college and explain that there are things with deer and duck and more masculine things on it,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins said she also encourages people to register for pieces that are special or unique.

“I tell them to pick something that is special so they can look back at it when they are older and remember that they got that when they were a page in Pageant or when they were king or queen for Pageant.”