Thursday, June 21, 2012

Just a quick hi

Hi all!  Just wanted to take a minute while I have time and access to let you know I haven't forsaken the blog.  I have had a super busy couple of weeks, been out of town part of the time and lost my little 3G/4G gadget that serves as my internet access at home and everywhere else (I'm not home much).  So while I don't feel too bad borrowing a minute from work to post my little explanation here, until I either find my gadget or accept that it's truly lost and get something else set up, I probably won't be posting.  See you soon!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Embrace serendipity

My Grandpa was the original 2ndhand Moon.  He collected vintage tools and farming/gardening equipment and had gorgeous old car the make and model of which currently escapes me.   His house, too was full of fascinating old treasures - everything from a victrola to an antique metal and marble ashtray/stand to a very cool collection of arrowheads.

Grandpa's cool old stuff fascinated me, as did the flea markets he freqented.  And while his were real antique and vintage treasures, I also learned from him and others in my life the value of just general thriftiness.  Of using something until it wears out, of giving new life to other people's old junk.  So when I first bought my house, I proudly furnished it with hand-me-downs from my parents, a couple of chairs from St. Vincent de Paul, and several items picked up on Big Trash Day (one of which is the wrought iron floor lamp sitting beside me right now).  

All of this to say I came by my love of old junk honestly, and really had no choice but to embrace it.  Still, it hasn't been that long that I've been reselling, and I'm not exactly raking in the dough yet.  With far more successful resellers out there, I'm not sure I'm qualified to give advice on thrifting, necessarily, but here it is anyway, totally unsolicited:

In thrifting, as in life, embrace serendipity.

My #1 most important rule of thumb in thrifting also just happens to be a major part of my philosophy in life.  If you go out with too specific expectations, you will almost always come home disappointed.  That may sound pessimistic, but in my experience, it's true of most things.  A simple example:  I recently watched the movie Cowboys and Aliens:
Honestly, it's sinful to use that fantastic name, those actors, and teasers like this and then put out a product with so little wit.  They should have saved the name for Pixar if they weren't going to have any fun with it.

Based on the frankly fabulous title and the actors involved (Indiana Jones/Han Solo!  James Freaking Bond!), I was expecting an action-packed movie with a tongue-in-cheek wit about it, and maybe a touch of kitsch.  Had I gone in without expectations, I likely would have enjoyed the film much more.  Expecting a sense of humor and a quick pace left me disappointed. 

On the other hand, my favorite type of getaway is the road trip with no destination.  I pick a road, I ease on down it, and I see what there is to see.  I have very rarely failed to have a totally satisfying adventure, from stumbling upon midwestern street festivals to exploring abandoned places: 
And so similarly, while I read frequently in thrifty blogs about having a plan of attack when you walk into a store, and a BOLO list of items to Be On the LookOut for, my strategy for thrifting is basically this:  Go to the thrift store.  Wander around.  Look at everything.  Let colors and textures and patina call to you.  And (this one I've learned with experience, the rest is gut) if you don't love it, don't buy it.  Just because something is vintage, and a good deal, and you think you maybe could sell it, doesn't mean you need to.  Conversely, if something speaks to you, and the price is right, sometimes you have to just go for it!  If you walk into a thrift store intent on finding this:

1950's unabridged Webster's Dictionary
Or that:
Cheery yellow telephone

You may well wander the aisles frustrated and go home grumpy.  Both of the items above are things I thrifted that I adore, but I wasn't looking for either one.  And had I been looking for the telephone, I might never have noticed any of this:
And who doesn't want a high-five hand, blue people and some hipster mice?
With eyes peeled for a particular item (or even a particular type of item, like little black dresses, vintage barware or high-end linens), you are less likely to find success on any given day, and more likely to miss out on the surprise treasures your eyes skimmed past in search of something specific.  So while I'm not sure it was Grandpa's way, my advice is simple: embrace serendipity and see what your Fairy Godthrifter might bring your way!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

New treasures (one new-new, others new in that I never got around to showing you before) and a booth update.

When I got back from my vacation last week I was hoping to have cleared out a ton of stuff at my antique mall booth so I could shift a ton of new stuff in (and get it out of my increasingly hoarder-ific house).  I was a bit disappointed.  Looking around, there were very few holes to fill.  So that day I did some rearranging.  Since I first moved into booth 78 at Kenrick Antique Mall in February, I've had a great old leather suitcase sitting on a luggage rack against the back wall, with some other items for sale sitting on top of it.  That day, I put a small old console table I had picked up in its place, and put the suitcase in the front corner, just sort of sitting there by the aisle, and everything that had been piled on it got piled on the table instead.  This week when I came in, the leather suitcase had gone!  Apparently using it as a table discouraged people from trying to buy it - who knew? Also sold: the cheery yellow retro telephone.  Two pretty substantial sales to kick off June, which is very exciting.

Also exciting?  May was my best month yet!  I only made 14 sales, but it was enough to bring me to an actual profit of almost $50!  That may not sound like much, but to me it sounds like Progress!  So while I do a happy dance around my still-cluttered living room, you can peruse the collection of lovely and wonderful things I did manage to fit into my slightly rearranged space today:

Glass carafes with various star-burst patterns.
American Express Travel Services carry-on.

Adorable sad-eyed basset hound Napcoware planter.

Tiny Oomphies multicolored lamé flats.
1940's vintage Androck nut grinder.

Pretty little quilted purse from Joseph's Shoes.

small pink and gold mid-century lamp.
Large mid-century swirl-glazed/wood table lamp.

Pair of Fire King mugs.
Another, later model Androck nut grinder.

Bright cute sherbet green stool/mini-table.

50's/60's vintage men's paisley/plaid shirt.

Of the above treasures, my favorite are:
-The Napcoware basset hound planter, which is so cute and doesn't eat and poop like a real dog.
-The first of the three carafes in the picture.  It has a very stylized handle and these slightly off, atomic-y star-bursts.
-The two lamps.  The first is so pop 50s with the pink and gold asymetry - I wish the picture had turned out better, but take my word for it, it's cute as a button.  The bigger one with the swirl glaze is a pretty Danish modern looking style that is understated enough to fit in with any decor but still have a point of view and a presence.  This was the one item I actually did just pick up on Monday afternoon when my Mom and I checked out the new DAV-serving Red Racks thrift store in Afton (my take on that coming soon).  
-Honorable mention to the shoes, because of the lamé, because of the pink satin interior, and because they're called Oomphies!

Now I'm off to Apron Thrift Girl to see how many awesome finds I'll have to peruse through there this week!  What about you - find any treasures?

Cheapskates' Paradise, part deux!

You might recall a few weeks ago I wrote about how Kiplinger's website named my own St. Louis #1 in their list of the 10 best cities for cheapskates.

At the time I waxed on about how awesome it was growing up in St Louis, where you don't have to have a lot of money to enjoy culture, science and the arts.  But due to my perhaps overzealous enthusiasm for the subject, I only managed to give details on the fabulous, free St Louis Zoo before my post got out of hand.  So I thought maybe it would be worth revisiting the issue to tell you all about other great things you can do in St. Louis on the cheap.  So since I started with the Zoo, there's no point going farther than right up the hill, still in Forest Park.  Folks, I give you the St. Louis Art Museum:

Picture courtesy of
As you can read in the caption included in the above picture, we are once again in 1904 World's Fair territory with this building.  An altered photo, but a better view of the architecture, by Bill Haack at

See Saint Louis (Louis IX of France) on his trusty steed guarding the entrance there?  Good man!
A new addition to the museum, designed by David Chipperfield, is almost finished (on the outside.  Interior work is still to come), and is scheduled to open next year:

Artistic rendering courtesy of

This new addition will allow the museum to keep more of its well over 30,000 works of art on display.  That figure includes everything from ancient Greek, Egyptian, and Byzantine pieces to  precolumbian Native American art to the Americana of George Caleb Bingham to the best collection of 20th century German artist Max Beckmann's work anywhere, to brilliant contemporary artists, photography, design and decorative arts.  I believe I shared with you here about one of my favorite pieces already, 17th century Spanish painter Francisco de Zurbarán's St Francis Contemplating a Skull:

A few other of my favorites on display at the St. Louis Art Museum:

Sadak in Search of the Waters of Oblivion, John Martin, 1812

One of Degas' "Little Dancer" bronzes

Van Gogh's beautiful "Stairway at Auvers".
 I love Van Gogh.  Partially because of the color and texture and intense life of his work, partially because of the heartbreaking story of his life and art and death, partly because of his self portraits with his gentle, sad eyes and partly, I fully admit, because of Richard Curtis, Tony Curran and Bill Nighy and the beautifully touching job that Doctor Who did with him in "Vincent and the Doctor".  
The above painting dates to July, 1890.  His tragic, still debated death came that same month, which makes it extra poignant.

You can see all of this and so, so much more at the St. Louis Art Museum, and you can see it for free!  That's right, like the St. Louis Zoo, the Art Museum is part of the Metropolitan Zoological Park and Museum District, a tax district which provides subsidies to help keep certain cultural institutions available to all, regardless of their financial status.  In fact, above the entrance is the inscription "Dedicated to Art, and Free to All", a motto that was emblazoned on a t-shirt I got my senior year in high school when I got a museum membership as a gift.  I stopped wearing it in college after meeting a guy named Art I wasn't particularly fond of.  Not sure what happened to it after that!

Anyway, with the World's Fair-built building being nearly as beautiful as it's varied contents, the warren of galleries can be fun to wander without direction, allowing for a surprise around every corner.  That in and of itself can provide hours of completely free fun (donations accepted), but wait, there's more!  The museum is situated in Forest Park, atop what's known as "Art Hill", a fairly steep hill leading from the museum down to a reflecting pool with fountains, providing gorgeous views and plenty of lawn for your picnic.  If you feel like spending a little money, rowboats and paddle boats can be rented at the nearby Boat House, where there is also a lovely restaurant alternative to your picnic.  In the winter, bring your own sled and more hours of free entertainment can be had.  Sledding on Art Hill is as much an institution as the museum itself, and most of the population of the city can tell you stories of fun times had speeding down that hill.