Monday, May 24, 2010

Adventures in Vintage...Classic!

What a weekend, to be sure!  I had a booth at the 11th Annual Lucketts Store Spring Market in Lucketts, Virginia and hung out with a bunch of vintage thrill seekers and antique trekkies.  You know who I'm talking about--those people who are in it for the thrill of the hunt, the call of the bargain and they definitely get a rush when scoring the deal of the century--or, at the very least, the deal of the weekend.  "I can do this, too," I've said to myself through the years and this was the year I decided to finally walk the talk and venture into the antique/vintage wares selling  business.  After all, I've been selling lavender for years.  How different can this be?  So, here I am...

I've been to this fair many times before and have always marveled at what people sell here and marveled more at what people buy here.  From beanie babies and childrens toys to posh antiques, old rusty garden decor and even bathroom sinks.  Everything and anything that was once somebody's trash and now somebody's treasure--bought and sold--sometimes at exorbitant prices and sometimes dirt cheap can be found at this Spring Market and now I have added my 2 cents worth. I cannot tell you how many times I was asked, over the course of this past weekend, things like, "Why are these milk cans so cheap?" or, "What's wrong with that chest since it's priced so low?"  C'mon people, you don't always have to look a gift horse in the mouth, just consider it divine intervention that is going your way!!

Everybody, it seemed, needed a story to go with their new found treasure.  I had a bidding war going on over an old pew given to us from my in-laws, when we were first married. It was from their old church in Niantic, Connecticut.  I had marked the ticket showing it came from there and a women asked me about it.  I was telling her how my mother-in-law had asked Peter to design a new planting plan for their newly renovated Niantic Community Church just as he had finished his Landscape Architecture Degree almost 30 years ago.  The church had no money to pay him but offered two old pews instead, which we were very grateful for and used them for many years all around the house.  Another woman was listening in and then wanted the pew as well.  Not only that, I had another lady at the same time asking me for the story behind an old pink-flowered platter (which was my Swedish grandmother's, Helga Charlotta Anderson Ivarson--no kidding--I couldn't make that name up if I tried!)   Anyway, back to the pew--while one lady took cell phone pictures to send to her husband claiming it was hers, the other lady was insisting that I slap a "sold" ticket on it for her.  I suddenly felt as though I should have on a black and white striped shirt with a whistle in my mouth.  Touchdown!  The woman with the cell phone scored.  Afterall, she was the first to inquire about it.

There were also the self-proclaimed "negotiators" doing their best to haggle their own price.  Many a person would pick something up like a pair of pillows and ask, "What is the best price you can give me on these already very fairly priced, carefully and lovingly handmade pillows from a prized quilt you have had since age 9 that your mother bought for you at Grace's Quilt Shop in Merrimac, Wisconsin where you spent your summers with your Swedish grandmother Helga Charlotta?"  Okay, so she didn't quite put it that way but that was what I was thinking as the customer carefully inspected her find. I replied calmly, "That is the best price I can give you and I feel it is a fair one," confident that I would sell my old treasure to someone else, if not her, and, in the end I did.  No matter the person who was trying to barter a better price on something, they would look at me with an incredulous expression on their face and either buy it or give the item a daring toss back to it's original position---Geeesh!  You can't be weak in the vintage business or they'll walk all over you.

To my surprise, my booth neighbor on one side, Diana, had also been my booth neighbor at  the Montpelier Wine Festival a few weeks back where I sold garden items only.  At first she did not recognize me without all of those urns but did see the ladies colonial shoe planter and the pineapple finials and then she knew at once, it was me...who else? I ended up trading her an old fireplace broom for two jars of her homemade lavender jam that she sells among other herbal flavors.  I think I got the better end of the deal.

Saturday was so busy, by the middle of the day, I had to call Peter and tell him to bring more things for me to sell.  He showed up with watering cans, garden obelisks, pillows and even silver spoons that he had spent the morning polishing away years and years of built up tarnish they had gathered while sitting packed away in the dining room cabinet.  No sooner had he spread the spoons out on a table and turned to me to ask what should we price them at, there were customers swarming all over them like bees to honey.  I announced $5.00 each on the individual silver souvenir spoons collected through the years by my mother everywhere and anywhere she went.  Peter also brought old silver-plate knives and forks with the letter "S' engraved on them that a lady snapped up within 20 minutes of putting them out to sell...who knew!?

Years ago, after my mother had passed away, my sister and I divvied up the spoons and whatever pieces of silver and silver-plate flatware that my mother had and I got the majority of these pieces because my sister's interests were on other things of my mother's, like the walking spinning wheel that I covet still, today.  She's a shrewd one, I tell you.  Anyway, once customers started snapping the spoons up, I noticed a few I had forgotten all about.  They were engraved with the name "May"  which was my German grandmother's name, May Schwarz, and my middle name is "May", after her.  Germans, at least in my family, may not have been as creative when it came to names as the Swedes were, but they were every bit as industrious and proud of their European heritage, Midwestern life.  I squirreled a few of these spoons away before any more would sell in hopes that someday, I may have a granddaughter named, in some way, "May."  Hope does springs eternal.

Five o'clock came in a flash and the day ended with a soft, gentle rain that helped to usher the customers out of the field and back into their cars, carrying with them a whole host of things from the Blooming Hill Booth.  I tidied things up a bit, secured and tied the walls of the tent, zipped up the doors and bid "adieu" to my booth neighbors on either side of me then, headed for home dreaming of Sunday and how fun it was going to be selling more things I'd gathered through the years from relatives, tag sales and auctions.  "I can do this!" I said to myself.

However, upon arrival to the tent yesterday morning, we discovered that the soft gentle rain turned into something akin to the smoke monster on the television show, Lost.  Through the night, the rain poured steadily and heavily with off and on thunderstorms at my house and, by the looks of the collapsed tent canopy that Peter found when he got back to Lucketts was every bit as bad, if not worse in Lucketts.  Thank heaven I listened to myself and had covered just about every piece of furniture with a big plastic leaf/lawn bag before I left so these items had stayed pretty dry but the soft green grass floor of the booth was now a shallow, muddy puddle.  Peter got there first and had the tent canopy up before I arrived and I found him wiping surfaces off with damp towels. "Did you get a picture of it? I asked.  "Are you kidding!?" he shot back.  "I was so shocked to see what had happened I almost slipped and fell in this ankle deep mud while running from the truck to the booth," he added sounding perturbed, to say the least.

In spite of what had happened during the night and the rain that was still refusing to subside yesterday morning, we decided to put our happy faces on and open for business in the wake of other vendors closing down and packing up.  We were rewarded with friendly and understanding customers who bought a serpentine oak dresser, depression glass and plant stands from us.  Now that's divine intervention at its best.  However, by 2 o'clock, the rain was still  falling and we were tired of constantly wiping raindrops off of wood surfaces and trying to protect indoor items from the outdoor forces of nature so we packed our things and joined the parade of vendors doing the same thing.  We were one of the lucky ones who were able to get our truck and trailer out of the muddy field without having to be towed...kudos to Peter's driving skills and courageous spirit.  Home we went to refinish and repolish things for another show on another day, someday soon.

Would I do this again? Absolutely!  It was great fun and that far outweighed the rain, soggy clothes, water-drenched surfaces and muddy feet.  The antiques?...They'll live to see another day and be just as beautiful as before with a little cherry wood finish and lemon polish.  I'll be back but with a good pair of "muck" boots since it can get a little deep, in stories, history and especially mud.  The tent will live to see many more antique and garden shows as well, once it has been water-proofed and shored up with additional stays to weather whatever Mother Nature sends us for the next vintage adventure turned classic experience.

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