Tag Archives: Charlotte

The State of Vintage Shopping

Above you can see the sad remains of what was once a thriving vintage and antiques market.  Held on the first weekend of every month, there was a time when this entire space would have been jammed full of dealers in old stuff.  I’ve been going to the Metrolina market for around fifteen years, and over that time I’ve watched it shrink and shrink and shrink.  This week the word was out that the owners are retiring and selling the property.

The reality of the show I attended yesterday is not quite as pitiful as my photo would lead one to believe.  To the right are two large buildings that contain vendors.  The scene inside them was livelier, but still there were plenty of empty spaces for absent vendors.  To the left are a row of smaller buildings which are occupied by little shops that open only when the show is in progress.  These people are now scrambling to find new spaces for their shops before Metrolina closes in June.

I could go on for hours, reminiscing about all the wonderful things I’ve found here over the years.  But I’ll not, mainly because my keyboard couldn’t take the tears.  Just know that a sizable amount of my collection was purchased in this empty lot.

It’s not all bad news, however. One thing that I’ve found to be true about myself is that I find the same amount of stuff to buy regardless of the size of a market.  A lot of this has to do with the fact that knowing there is less ground to cover lets me take the time to give everything a closer look.  I love old photographs, but if time is tight I’ll pass by a stack  because looking through them takes so much time.  Yesterday I took the time to sort through some I found and was rewarded with a wonderful Victorian woman on a bicycle and a fully documented shot of a 1923 beach with bather.

And there is a section of dealers that I always seem to leave for last because I just never find much there.  Yesterday I had the time to pass through that area and found another 1930s chenille beach cape.  Because there was extra time, I stopped at a favorite restaurant for a pimento cheese burger and a craft brew, and then did a walk-through of a nearby antiques mall.  There I found a superb early 1920s dress with embroidery and a sweet little change purse with Florida tourist destinations.

This mall has been in business for about three years, and is located in an old textile mill.  It’s is huge, and has been pretty much full since opening.  Unfortunately I noticed that one big room has closed, and there were a few empty spaces.  Worst of all, I’m seeing more new decorative objects.  These are not a good signs.

I’ll show off all my plunder later this week, but here are a few things I loved but did not buy.

I see a lot vintage prints, and I just love the ones showing women involved in sports.  These two were new to me.

This is a counter display, and is three-dimensional.  I love stuff like this, but I just do not have the space for it.

My regular vintage clothing dealers were not there, but I did spot a few nice pieces in various booths.  This was a lovely 1960s dress and jacket ensemble from maker Dan Millstein.

I pretty much limit myself to buying only fashion magazines, but this The American Magazine cover was just too fantastic not to share.

I’s love to hear what other vintage shoppers are finding in their geographic areas.  Are sellers of old stuff all moving to the internet?




Filed under Shopping, Viewpoint

Mint Museum Uptown

We can’t all be lucky enough to live in or near a large cultural center like New York City or London, but in most areas there are plenty of smaller museums and historical sites that are well worth seeking out.  The Mint Museum in Charlotte, is a two and a half hours drive for me, but it is well worth the effort and gas money, especially when combined with a bit of shopping.  It’s rarely crowded, never any line, and there are plenty of treasures to discover.

I’m a bit ashamed that I’d never visited the Mint’s uptown Charlotte location, especially since I was so pleasantly surprised by the exhibitions.   The facility houses the Mint’s craft and design collection, but it also has a great exhibition of American art.  As icing on this artistic cake, there are a few items of clothing from the Mint’s costume collection also on view.

The photo above shows a Charles Frederick Worth evening cape, made of silk velvet, point de Venise lace, glass beads, metallic sequins, and silk tulle.  M. Worth did not do “less is more.”  I love how the creator of the exhibit resisted the urge to add any additional items to this display.  I’ve had concerns about over-accessorizating in some of the Mint costume exhibitions.

This early Twentieth century bathing suit is labeled “Water Sprite.”  It’s perfectly accessorized with the black stockings and bathing shoes, which I love.

In the same vein a summer painting by artist William James Glackens is shown.  Good Harbor Beach, 1919.

This 1920s “Orientalist” evening frock is labeled “Pascaud, Paris”

The Mint also has a good collection of the works of Romare Bearden, who was born in Charlotte.  This work is Girl in the Garden, 1979.

The contemporary craft collection is also very interesting.  This bowl is actually made of wood which is painted.  The artist is Binh Pho, the work, Realm of a Dream, 2007.

This work is stitchery on paper.  The artist is Anila Rubiku, the work, Mastering Freedom, 2006

This installation by Hildur Bjarnadittir took up an entire wall.  The squares are crocheted wool which were dyed using plant material.

What makes Urban Color Palatte interesting is that Bjarnadittir gathered the plants from along roadsides and vacant lots in Charlotte.  Even though the dye stuffs were basiclly what we consider to be waste plants, or weeds,  the results produced a wide range of color and character.  The same concept might also be applied to humans.


Filed under Museums, North Carolina, Road Trip

Vintage Charlotte Holiday Pop-up Market

I first went to the Vintage Charlotte Market in June, and I liked it enough that I made the trip for their holiday show.  I was not disappointed.  The show is not just for vintage clothing, but rather, is a mix of all kinds of old stuff.  The vendors were well stocked and prepared for the 10 am opening.  By 11 the place was packed.

Many of the vendors did have clothing, and so there was quite a bit to look through.  I bought a pair of 1960s bowling shoes from the owner of this booth.

With Christmas and the Holidays coming up, there were boxes of vintage decorations.  I can remember when these could be found for a dime each at the thrift stores.  That was before Martha Stewart showed the world how to make a wreath from them.

The fishy bag was unsigned, and was a craft project, maybe.

This basket bag was not a craft project, as it still had a JC Penney tag attached.  I can remember when these were popular in the late 1960s.  I made one from a fruit basket and some red, white, and blue canvas.

The dress does not look like much in my terrible photo, but it was very nice.  It is net with appliques and an attached under dress.

And here is a close-up of the sleeve.

I had these shoes in the 1980s, and if these had been my size I would have bought them.  Made by Hush Puppies, they were the most comfortable shoes ever.  It is a bit of a bummer seeing the very same stuff you wore not too many years ago being sold as vintage, though.

From 1968, this “Misses Gay Nineties Costume” might be something to carry in the back of my mind just in case a weird “old” bathing costume comes my way!

The market was held at the Fillmore Charlotte, which is a music hall located in an old industrial building.  The only real problem with the set-up is the terrible lighting.  The room is dark, as you can see, and all the lights are extremely bright.  The lucky sellers were located near a window because they could get a little natural light.

So pretty… so distracting…

Finally, the mustache craze makes sense to me.  Isn’t this the best food truck?

At the last minute I decided to drive a few miles to Concord, NC, to two malls I’d heard of but never visited.  First up was The Depot at Gibson Mill.  Housed in an old cotton mill, the building itself was very interesting.  Best of all it is huge.  I could have spent the entire day there, and by the time I’d seen it all, I was pretty much out of energy.  I did manage a quick walk-through at the White Owl Antique Mall, which was also nice.

Concord is in the middle of cotton country, and today there are dozens of the old factories standing empty.  It was great seeing the Gibson Mill being used not only as an antique mall, but also housing offices and other businesses.  The community around the old mill consists of mill houses, many of which look to have been restored and nicely maintained.

My eight-year-old self wanted this badly.

I’m always happy to see Vera Neumann designs.  This is a tablecloth.


I’m looking at this Yuengling calendar, wondering why I did not buy it.  Why?

What is it about old letter sweaters?  I love them so much.


This beautiful old tennis graphic was glued inside an old box, which I assume held lawn tennis equipment at one time.  Still, the box was a real find and it was in nice condition except for the crack.  It also was not for sale.

More tennis, a few decades later.  This is a poster ad for tennis shoes.

All in all it was a great day.  I’ll share what I bought in another post.


Filed under North Carolina, Road Trip, Shopping

Charlotte Metrolina, September, 2013

I don’t often listen to the voices in my head, but when they whisper, “It’s flea market weekend at Metrolina,” I do sometimes listen and take action.  Last Friday was one of those days where I had nothing major to occupy my time, so I decided to go with my thought and set off for Charlotte.

This market advertises as an antiques and collectibles show, and for the most part that is what it is.  There are some crafty things, and some booths cater to the decorating trade with “antiques,” but for the most part it is one of those markets where you just never know what will be offered.  I’ve gone and bought nothing but lunch, and then again I’ve gone and come home with some spectacular finds.

There were lots of clothes to paw through.  The rack above was in the booth of Linda, a Metrolina regular.  She can always be counted on to have a rack or two of nice things.

Here I found some fun, sporty things, but it was all for the guys.

There was a booth of just vintage sewing things, like these deadstock cards of buttons.

There were actually some very nice things in this pile of clothes.

For a kiddie, but aren’t they sweet?  I love Mr. Snowman’s green hat.

It pays to be chatty.  The owners of this booth are regulars here, but they usually don’t have clothing.  I started talking to the guy and it turns out they have rooms of vintage clothing at their house, open by appointment.  Sounds promising!

So, what did I buy?  Two 1910’s hats, the absolutely best 1940s platform slingback heels in magenta suede, a 1918 fashion magazine, a pair of 1930s slacks (sailor inspired!), and a late 1910s bathing suit.  A full report of each will follow.


Filed under North Carolina, Shopping

Charlotte Metrolina Flea Market, Fall 2012

The official name for this show is the International Collectibles & Antiques Show, but a flea market by any other name is still a flea market.  Not that there are not nice antiques here – there are – but it’s the fleas that interest me the most.

This show has been shrinking since I  first visited it in 2003, brought on partly by the original management leaving for another venue and the vendors being divided between two shows.  And of course the recession did not help either.  Still, it is a very fun day, and nowhere nearly as exhausting as it used to be.  And I’d rather have 100 sellers with interesting stuff than 200 that are hit and miss any day.

So, what was interesting, but did not end up in my shopping bags?

If these Vera towels had even remotely gone with the decor in my house, I’d have grabbed them.  There were several bath towels, hand towels and wash cloths but I’m not going to tell you how much he was asking because I don’t want you all to be laughing at me behind my back…

So many nice handbags here.  I’ve got to say that displays like this just confuse me.  If there are just so many things to try and focus on, I have a hard time thinking of what I need, want, or even like.

There’s no denying this is one peachy bathing suit, but the condition was just too rough.

I’m not even going to try to understand the thinking behind this “project.”

So many possibilities, so many near misses.  But seriously, is there anything more exciting than a rack like this one that had oodles of  vintage clothing, just waiting for you to paw through?

This seller had some really fantastic vintage travel posters.  The lack of wall space keeps me from being more than just a window shopper.

I loved these sporty Edwardian gals.

I’ve never paid any attention to hat blocks until a friend sent me to a blog of a collector.  They really are fascinating.

These old labels were on the inside of a nondescript metal footlocker.  It pays to always look inside.


Filed under Shopping

Flea Market Report – Charlotte Metrolina

The official name for this show is the International Collectibles and Antique Show, but I always think of it by the venue, the Metrolina Expo.  I first attended the Metrolina about ten years ago – a snap decision brought on by a desperate desire to play hooky during an especially trying year of teaching.  I no longer need an escape from a job, but I still enjoy attending this show several times a year.  The show has shrunk, and this April’s show was the smallest ever, but it does seem like the quality is stable, if not a little better than in the past.

There weren’t many dealers who had only vintage clothing and accessories, but they all had a great selection of very good things.

One of my favorite sellers had a nice selection of older bathing suits.

She also had these tiny little hat boxes, which were like gift certificates.  The recipient could take in the tiny hat and select the real thing.

I always get excited over vintage luggage labels!

I didn’t know Ceil Chapman had a cologne.  It smelled… interesting.

This booth had nothing but buttons – lots of buttons.

I’m sort of wishing I’d bought this porchoir.  The price was good and it is lovely.

This was a cute little girly thing.

Can you tell that this was made of rayon neckties? The wide ends are at the hem, forming a natural flare to the robe.

It was quite chilly that morning, so this guy was wearing his…

cocker spaniel!


Filed under Road Trip, Shopping

Closing Out the Season

The flea market season, that is.  The last major one of the year in my area was the Charlotte Metrolina last weekend.  And even though it was threatening rain, I made the trip last Friday.

Over the years this show has shrunk considerably, though the quality has definitely improved.  There are now about ten vintage clothing dealers that I can pretty much count on being there, and they often even have brought things to the show with me in mind.  It pays to get to know the sellers who seem to share a taste with you.

I think there must be an infinitely variety of old stuff out there.  I’ve been junk shopping regularly for 30 plus years, and I’m always finding something “new.”   That’s what keeps it interesting!

Here’s what I did not buy:

This was a nice selection of patterns, but I have so many, and these were not bargain priced.

It would be so easy to collect these old girls’ books if only for the wonderful covers.

The dress this rosette was on was totally trashed, but I’d love to know how to make these.

Cute Valentine!  The arm and the eyes move.

This print dealer is always there, and I always stop and admire the illustrations.  Average price is about $125.

I probably would have bought these unusual Tammis Keefe cocktail napkins had I not been completely out of money.

And finally, one dealer’s dressing room:


Filed under Shopping, Vintage Clothing