Monday, February 27, 2012

Fannykins and Franquin: One is a keeper

Had a good thrifting weekend, and even showed some restraint on items Chester and I could have carried home if we had chosen to.  I visited a couple of nearby estate sales.  Tried to go to a third, but could not find it to save my life.  Oh well, wasn't meant to be I guess.  Anyway, that gave me more time for hanging out with my folks, which is always nice.  My parents are great, in case you wanted to know!

Anyway, between the estate sales and two thrift stores visited, here's my haul, with which I am very pleased!:

A trio of very cute, not-blind mice.  So cute!

I did n't know Avon made kitchen-y stuff, but that's
the name on the bottom of this cute little soup cup.

I need to clean it up, but this is my second piece of a
whole new brand of cast-iron enameled  stuff I
didn't know existed: Klafrestrom, from Sweden.

Cute little roly-poly S&P set.

Hummell-esque candle, still in the cellophane wrapper.

I've seen prayer hands before, but there's only one of
these, so I can only assume this is a high-five hand!

Adorable yellow-and-gold E Z Por pitcher.  So cute!

Holly Hobbie glass, and I believe the mug is also Holly
Hobbie, but the paint is gone, so it's just a sort of bas-relièf.

Pair of cute little bowls with a square sunflower pattern.

Slanty Gaston Lagaffe mug.
Gaston Lagaffe is a comic strip character created by Belgian artist Andre Franquin back in the 60s.  When I studied in Brussels in the 90s, I learned a bit about Belgian comics like Tin Tin and (bet you didn't know it) The Smurfs, originally known as Les Stroumphs, as well as Gaston and his associates.  It's actually a birthday mug (full text: C'est mon anniversaire, alors on ne me stresse pas", which means "It's my birthday, don't bother me."), but I don't care; I'm keeping it.  I dig Gaston.

I love these!  Appear to be 60s big-eyed children
versions of Louis and Marie-Antoinette?  So cute!

This... this is what's known as a FannyKins. Apparently
there was a whole line of droopy-pants child  figurines like this.
I will not be keeping this - somehow a statue with buttcrack is less charming to me in this era of saggin' than it must have been in the 60s or whatever, but it is kinda cute and I'm hoping someone will like it.

No idea what this is; it's not insulated.  It does
have a little black strap attached to a metal
grommet in the top, which unscrews from the bottom
where it looks like it does.  Anybody have a guess?

Rooster canister set.
These are so cool.  They're real wood, well crafted and they nest perfectly.  Downside:  the bottom piece of wood on the coffee one is split and the dovetailing on the flour one is a bit loose, but they're so cute!  I over-payed for these.  I couldn't help it.

Linking to Apron Thrift Girl's Thrift Share Monday.  Anybody else make any thrift scores this weekend?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Local treasure alert - STL

To any vintage/mid-century loving St Louisans out there, as of yesterday, there were some gorgeous finds to be had at the Goodwill at Union and Bayless in South County.

This wasn't all, but here's the only shot I could get with my phone:
The bench upholstery appeared to be leather

There was also another long mid-century sofa in a green/gold damask print, a wood-frame and cushion loveseat with stripes, a couple of leather-bound and one floral print chair, a tall-backed cane-sided recliner and several footstools.  All appeared to be in pristine condition - as if they'd been sitting covered in a cool, dark, dry place for the last 60 years, and all were priced well enough that it hurt my heart to be a person without access to a truck.  I was tempted to grab the tags off anyway and figure it all out later, but I also do not have access to any real storage space for such things, so I sadly left without any of these treasures.  Anyway, it was yesterday, but there's a chance some of it may still be there, and I wanted to give my fellow vintage-loving St Louisans the heads-up.  Happy Sunday, everyone!

Philosophy of reselling?

Most of what I thrift, I plan to at least try to resell.  And yet, I haven't done a ton of research on what sorts of items are hot sellers, and I don't go looking for particular brands/marks/designers/etc.  Maybe I should.  Maybe if I did, I'd be already making money at it.  But I admit I haven't ever been all that motivated by money.  Don't get me wrong, I'd like to have money.  I'd like to make money off of my obsession with vintage things, particularly.  But money has always seemed more like an unfortunate necessity that forces me to spend 40-50 hours a week in a cubicle than something I want to someday swim around in like Scrooge McDuck.

I don't care about the best cars or big houses in perfect neighborhoods.  And so like everything else in my life (the French lit degree, trying to move to Mauritius, getting involved in urban ministry...), I know I probably could make choices that would make more money thrifting.  For instance I keep reading about people making money off of certain Starbucks mugs.  But I can't be bothered.  I keep passing on the mugs, for $.10 at St Vincent de Paul, because they just... don't interest me.

So I buy what I like.  Sure, I keep my phone handy and Google the names on labels sometimes, but for the most part, if I don't get excited about it personally, it's not coming home with me, and if I do get excited about it, I don't care what Google says.  I'm hoping that "what I like" (which is a very, very broad category) translates into "what people want to buy", but I'm not trying to force it.  Which in one way is nice, because... at least if nobody does want to buy it, I'll be stuck with a bunch of stuff I like, instead of a bunch of stuff I hoped other people would like.

But if you are, or are thinking about being a reseller, do you have a coherent philosophy for what you buy?  Do you stick to a certain type of thing, or a certain era, or a certain aesthetic?  Do you buy only what is in a certain price range, or what you think will sell for X amount more than what you pay, or, like me, do you just blunder around without a plan, buying what pings some pleasure center in your brain and hoping it will do the same for the next person?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Polling the public: advice for a newbie seller? Anyone?

Some questions for any more experienced sellers of vintage goodies, and/or any potential or actual buyers of same:

-How do you feel about antique malls, in general?  How do you expect them to compare, price-wise, to Etsy?  Ebay?  Thrift stores?  Any other venues?

-What's your advice on a booth that is stuffed full vs. one that is less cluttered/more "designed"?

-Do you think it's worthwhile to have an item/items in the shop that are not likely to sell, but might attract attention?  For example, when I set up my booth on Feb 11, I included these:

Red and white jackets with "Barb" and "Dave" embroidered on them.
I did not expect a couple by those names to walk into the store, spot the jackets, and feel the need to buy them, particularly, but I displayed them prominently, allowing them to take up wall space in an 8x8 booth on the theory that it was Valentine's week and they made a sort of sweetly kitschy, funny eye-catcher that might draw people in to my booth.  I removed them on Tuesday of this week, since Valentine's Day is past and I don't expect them to sell any time soon.  I thought I might bring them back out around Halloween for a similar reason, and on the theory that a couple might consider them easy/funny matchy costumes.  Similarly, I have a couple of obnoxiously fun double-knit polyester items with shamrocks on them that I intend to put up within the next week or two, to attract attention for St Paddy's Day.  Do you think this is a worthwhile endeavor?  I mean, I'm hoping at some point these items will find buyers as well, but I don't exactly expect it, so am I wasting precious booth space?  And if so, what do I do about the other half-ton of kitschy clothing items I purchased because they amuse me?

Any and all advice will be greatly appreciated, and will earn you points on Santa's Nice list, I'm sure!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Too late shmart, but right on time for Presidents' Day thrift sales!

I know, three posts in one day.  I'm sure the internet thinks I'm making a nuisance of myself, but it's way too polite to tell me so.
I can't help it though.  Presidents' Day at Value Village meant 50% off!  So obviously after visiting my booth this morning, I toddled along next door for a visit.  And then hit 2 other of their stores up on North St Louis County.  And now I get to show off the spoils, which is almost as fun as hunting them down to begin with!

The cute 70's child's table everything is on, and the
Van Gogh-inspired needlework are not from today's
excursion, but I hadn't showed them off before.

More mushroom-y goodness, and a real, famous, walnut bowl!

Walnut Bowls are a thing.  When I was a kid, all over rural Missouri, on the way to either of my Grandparents' places, or anywhere else, you would see billboards (and faded old painted barns) advertising two things:  Meramec Caverns, and Walnut Bowls.  Apparently Missouri is the home of most of the walnut trees in the country, and some enterprising rural Missourian at some point decided to capitalize on this fact by making a lot of bowls and advertising it.  A Lot.  I don't know why they didn't make walnut anything else, but the phrase "walnut bowls" has been indelibly imprinted on my mind, because apparently that's all they did make.  And now I have one.  A real Missouri Ozark one even!

A pair of cute "Love is" mugs.  Both have a Japan stamp
on the bottom, so I believe they are original.

A cute lemon juice jar and an amber glass hanging pot.

Fun shaped little pitcher.  Bottom has the initials
LS, and 61, which I assume is the year it was made.

Check out the off-colored Mondrian style little afghan throw!
Needlepoint "Peace Prayer"
I've always heard this called just the Prayer of St Anthony before.  I'm not Catholic, but I've always been fascinated with St Anthony.  From what I understand of him, he seems nuts in the best possible way.  My Mom has (I believe it's still there) a plaque with this prayer up in her kitchen, and I memorized it years ago.  In case you can't read it in the picture, here is the text:

Lord make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sew love,
Where there is injury, pardon,
Where there is doubt, faith,
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.

Oh Divine Master, 
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console.
To be understood, as to understand.
To be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

I especially love that this shows him preaching to the birds; that's one of my favorite stories about him.  By the way, this beautiful thing, which I've already decided I'm keeping for myself, was marked at $1.81, which means I paid less than a dollar for it.  Hooray for the 50% off sale!
Speckledy cornucopia vase/planter and a mysterious jar
with a very heavy metal rocket-looking thing on top.
I have no idea what the rocket-jar is, but it's old, and it looks like a rocket, and the mechanism (whatever it once did) appears to be broken.  I do not care.  It is nifty; it doesn't have to do anything.

Pair of kid-sized moccasins.  Insoles say Taos.  NM, I assume.
Another bit of needlework, from a different Value Village.
Amish, I guess?  Or Amish-inspired.
And too right!  I'm always too late shmart...

Linking up with Apron Thrift Girl again.  Happy hunting everyone!

Guess who's got two thumbs and sold some stuff?


 I ended up staying away from the booth yesterday after all, on the theory that I should wait until it had been up and running with actual prices on the items for a week before I go back the first time.  Like if I didn't, it would be cheating, and nothing would be sold and I'd be disappointed and... stuff.

So I stopped in this morning, and it looked more or less like it did when I left it last week, but I've definitely spotted a few items that are no longer present, so, while I can't confirm until the end of the month exactly what all sold (I don't think.  There were real live customers at the counter, so I didn't bother trying to ask if they could tell me today), I can show you this new picture:

Booth #78 at the Kenrick Antique mall, one week in!
In my quick perusal, I noticed that the black leather cowboy hat that used to be above where my "new vendor" sign is (Thanks for that, by the way, Kenrick folks!!) appears to have gone, along with the cool Austrian felt slippers that were under the suitcases, the blue Tupperware sugar and cream containers that matched the ones from my childhood, and the cute mushroom-decorated mail sorter that I got on one of my thrift jaunts when I was in Chicago.  And it just now, for the first time occurred to me that it would've been a good idea to write down the prices I put on those items (I know, I can't believe how slow I am either!).  Anyway, I am downright giddy and feel like a giant success even though I seriously doubt I'm on pace to break even just yet.

I added a set of 4 Fire King cups/saucers with the Harvest pattern this morning, like this one from

Fire King Harvest pattern

I'll probably be adding some more items tomorrow.  More on that a little later this evening.

Soliciting an upcycling idea

Hey all you clever, creating, crafty types out there, I have a challenge for you.  I have procured, for less than a dollar for reasons that will soon become clear, this cute vintage jack-in-the-box:

The handle still turns, some (funky warped version of) the music still plays, and the graphics all around are in pretty good shape.  But Jack has flown the coop.  The lid doesn't pop up on its own either, but I believe that's just because there's no spring underneath to put pressure on it; you can hear the release happening.  Inside is nothing but a cardboard tube running down from the lip of the opening to the base of the tin box, where Jack presumably once slept:

I haven't been able to find this same one in Google images, so I can't date it, but I can tell you it's sweet and cute and to be honest I like it better without Jack.  Just ask anyone who knows me - I'm not a fan of things that pop up suddenly to startle me.  I often get cringey around balloons, on the off chance they might pop.  I never liked a Jack-in-the-box when I was a little girl, and I hated, but got pretty good at, the game Perfection.  You remember the one?  there was a board with all these shaped holes, and then there were a bunch of pieces you had to stick in the correct holes before the constantly-ticking timer went off and the whole thing exploded in your face?  At least that's how it seemed to me: bomb-diffusing for children.  I loathed that game; was sure it was invented by evil people intent on causing (or perhaps in my case just exacerbating) childhood neuroses.  But I felt compelled to do it every time my sister cranked that timer up.  My pulse would race and I would get so nervous, but I would stick those stupid little plastic pieces in their little holes like a frantic... child trying to diffuse a bomb.  I think we've been over this part already.  

Anyway, all that to say I don't feel any particular loss for the missing Jack in this little tin box, and think it would be fun to re-purpose/upcycle it in some way.  And so I'm asking you, clever reader.  What would you do with Jack's house, now that he's vacated the premises?

Friday, February 17, 2012


So I've been strenuously exercising my willpower ever since Monday, very studiously NOT stopping in to check on my booth.  The suspense is killing me - I'm dying to know if I've sold anything, if people have commented on the booth, good or bad, if my location on the third row toward the back of the building hurts my chances of selling, if folks have made a mess, if, if, if...

Curiosity is driving me mad, but I only got everything priced on Monday night.  My first weekend of sales hasn't even started yet.  I will NOT go to the booth tomorrow.  I will NOT go to the booth tomorrow.  I will NOT.  I promise.

But Sunday, all bets are off.  If I have time after church and time with my crew, I'm definitely going to go peek in, bring a few more items in case anything has sold, tidy up, etc.

But in the spirit of willpower, here are a few things that I have valiantly refrained from buying recently.  This set is all from the chill out session at Value Village after finishing up the pricing on Monday:

Nice wooden, woven seat valet chair
I cannot tell a lie - I wanted the chair above for the booth, for display purposes until such time as it might sell, and the real reason I didn't get it is that it wasn't priced, and I guess I didn't want it badly enough to try and track somebody down.

Three (why not four?) rattan-seated boxy early-80s looking bar stools

Pink painted 3-drawer chest, nice mid-century handles.

3 (again!) rattan-backed boxy 80s chairs.
I'm forced to assume that somewhere out there, someone with an OCD problem with even numbers and a love of boxy 80s rattan has gotten new furniture.

Even numbered, non-boxy, non-rattan bentwood rockers
I don't like the upholstery, but ever since seeing how much Picasso enjoyed his rocker like this, I've paid more attention to them when I see them, and these were a nice, sturdy pair for less than $20 apiece.

You may have noticed that all the items in this collection are somewhat large, and that most of the items I generally do purchase are relatively small.  And you may recall me admitting that my transport is a 2002 Chevy Cavalier: also small.  Please do not read anything into these entirely unrelated facts.  It's definitely willpower that kept me from purchasing any of the above items!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy V-Day all!  My thrifty Valentine's gift to you all, a pretty and soothing little time-waster that I love:

Monday, February 13, 2012

Sweet relief - it's done! Also, a few celebratory thrifts.

So my booth is now really, truly, 100% up and running.  All items actually priced now.  Here's my official "After" picture:
Booth 78, Kenrick Antique Mall, St Louis, MO

I left work at 5:00 PM on the dot and braved the snowy streets to get there as quick as was safe.  So I didn't have quite 45 minutes to work - closer to 30.  But I had, from memory, written out most of the tags on my lunch break (thanks clever Jason!) and made it out of there with 5 minutes to spare before their 6:00 closing time.  At which point I was still a little wired, so I stopped in next door at Value Village to unwind.  Which leads me to the thrifts I thrifted:

Cool little display shelf thingy.  Presumably for books,
like these of mine I placed upon it.  Like!

little ironing board with it's own tiny legs.  Came in it's
original plastic bag, which declared it the
"World's Best portable ironing board".

I love the sea-bird sort of beak on this little pitcher/tea pot.

I think when it's clean, the little mouse will be less creepy.  

What's cooler than some gold lamée flirtations?

Possibly these lenticular (I <3 that word) shoes.  Lenticular! Shoes!

I'm not sure this is vintage, but it's beautifully made.

Look at the gorgeous vintagey lining fabric - hand-stitched!
And snaps on either side above the top button.

Oh - doing Apron Thrift Girl's Thrift Share Monday again - such fun last time to see what people found, and you have to see the gorgeous lamps she got this time!

Al(butnotquite)most totally in business!

So... after 2 days, quite a few ibuprofen, a running total of 8 helpers, and nerves galore, I finally sorta am in business.  Here's the Before picture:

Booth #78, Kenrick Antique Mall, Watson Rd, St Louis, MO
What you need to know is, I wasn't feeling in top form last week, and was working til 10 PM every night this week (ok, so that might be last week now, and the other one the week before... whatever!), so I didn't really get much done in preparation for the move-in.  Thursday night I couldn't sleep, so I did work on it some - de-tagging, cleaning, sorting, etc. until about 4:30 in the morning, but mostly everything I did was after I got home from work at 10:30 or so Friday night.  I stayed up all night working on getting it all ready and packed up.  What I didn't do, at all, was price anything.  Now, why I didn't do this is still a mystery even to me.  Somehow I thought it would be better/easier to price items while also moving in/setting up.  Which I now know is not just untrue, but completely absurd.  I kind of wish somebody had smacked me in the head before I made that mistake.  Anyway, with things all packed up and ready to go (and my house trashed by my inefficient methods) some time after dawn, I got a nice smile and a calming moment from this view in my kitchen:
The best thing about glass block windows!

Then I went outside and found that it was colder than a mug out there, as my friend Matt would say.  And it had snowed.  And my alley-found shelf for the booth, which I had stashed behind my garage for a few days, was covered in a layer of snow over a layer of ice.  Oops!

Not an ideal start, but funny!

So I loaded up the items I could fit in Chester, my beloved if aging 2002 Cavalier, and headed over to the antique mall to start setting up.  My friend Tiffany and her sweet little daughter borrowed a truck from a  family at church and helped me out with the larger items.  Then I started to work setting things up.  Some of the work in-progress:

Setting the stage a bit.
I thought the sort of chevron-y afghan would make a good backdrop.  The blue thingies are, I believe, racks used to put glasses through industrial dishwashers.  I work at the corporate headquarters of a national restaurant chain, and these were being thrown out, so I grabbed them on my way home one night.  I love the color and the swirly-swooshy thing they have going on.

The clothes rack corner.
I ended up leaving a LOT out of the booth for now that I originally thought would go in.  First of all, 8x8 seems huge when it's empty, but it fills up fast.  Secondly, as I was staging, things sort of naturally started sorting themselves into what I can only think to call stories, and I ended up only putting red, white and black items in this corner.  You know, Valentine-y!

You may recognize Jack the Imaginary Journalist's coat!

 Closer look at my blue racks and the cool little cabinet below.

What I'm not making clear is that through all of this, I still hadn't priced anything.  In fact, when my friends Beth and Todd came by to help out, we ended up staging the entire booth, setting everything up just so.  It looked (in my ever-so-humble opinion) really good.  But, we never priced a thing.  So when closing time came, we had a pretty cool booth, out of which I could sell nothing, and no more time to work on it.  Here it is all nifty and finished:

Some non-red clothing, including Jack's coat again!
And that's some awesome vintage contact paper in the magazine rack.

Kitsch and kitchen items, decor, linens, plus the cabinet.

The "manly-ish area" - some man clothes, the shy little
man-lamp from a previous post, and a "realtone" radio included.

I adore the huge danish/atomic looking coffee percolator/urn.
For a bit there the "story" for this little area was a 1970s AA meeting.  So glad I added the red/gold chip & dip set and the cute vintage cards.  Now it's for the poker (or bridge?) game.

Here's how the Valentine-y clothing area turned out. 
I'm loving Bambi hanging out under the suitcase down there!

So anyway, this is how it looked Saturday evening, with the addition of a big sign saying:
 "N0T YET OPEN (Soon though!)".

Sunday I completely overslept, missed church, accidentally went to an estate sale (where I scored something so amazing that I'm still shaking my head over it now, but can't show you yet), and then met my church-crew for lunch, after which Todd and his bean sprout of a son Ryan helped me out with transporting the amazing estate sale score.  Then Beth and the lovely and amazing Tora and Opal came and helped me work on pricing.  We got there after 2:00 and they closed again at 5:00, and I'm STILL not finished.  We have priced, I believe, all of the non-clothing items, and a few of the clothing pieces, so at least I can sell some things.  There are now signs in two spots in the booth saying that if there are no price tags, the items are not yet for sale, but will be soon.

The question now is how soon?  I am working 8:00-5:00 tomorrow, and they close at 6:00, so I should have about 45 minutes I can work tomorrow.  I may have to do the same again Tuesday to get it finished.

So the moral of this story is (probably only addressed to myself, because who else would be crazy enough to do it this way??):  Never bring an item in to sell that isn't already priced.  EVER!