Tag Archives: flea market

Hillsville, VA Flea Market, Fall 2015

Last week I went to the crazy place that is the Hillsville Flea Market.  I’ve been going to Hillsville for about ten years, and every now and again I swear off it.  But I keep going back, because among all the crazy is so much vintage wonderfulness.  It’s really not the best for old clothes, but I also find patterns and vintage fabrics.  So, what did I see that was interesting , but that I did not buy?

The drawing above is a puzzle.  Is her looking back on his college days, or is he looking forward to them?  He looks quite young, but is that a cigarette in his hand?

Here’s the dream of every person who sews: shears that cut all the way to the points.  And if you do not sew, you probably wondering why that is such a big deal.

I love old gambling boards, or punch boards, especially when they have a woman skating as the illustration.

Oh, for the simple days of Walt Disney World, when there was just the Magic Kingdom, and it was amazing.

This is my dream luggage.

As I said, Hillsville always has great textile sellers.  This one, a Key West Handprint by Zuzek, is for Jacq.

I just can’t seem to get away from quilts.

This poor old calendar from 1924 was trashed, but oh, so pretty.

I couldn’t tell if this basket backpack was newer, or just in fantastic condition.

I love 1950s red plaid objects, and when I spotted this one I couldn’t imagine what it was.

It’s a traveling cutlery set!  I’m thinking maybe I should have bought that one.


Filed under Road Trip, Shopping

Shopping Expedition, Metrolina, Spring 2015

I always think of the first weekend in April as the beginning of flea market season.  That’s because this weekend is the Metrolina “Spectacular”, the biggest show of the year at the North Charlotte expo center.  The first time I went to this market, fifteen or so years ago, it was truly spectacular.  It took every bit of a day to barely cover it all.  There were ten or twelve excellent vintage clothing sellers.

For the past six or seven years the show has been shrinking.  What used to take eight hours to see now can be done in five, and the latest show was the smallest yet.  Most of the vendors I spoke with about this blamed the economy, and a few grumbled about the management of the show.  Whatever the cause, there was less to see, and less that I found to buy.  And that’s really the bottom line.  There was a good crowd of shoppers, but if they aren’t buying, then the sellers are not going to be successful.

I’m sure there were a lot of people like me.  I’ve learned that I do not have to own every great thing that I spot.  A trip to the flea market is as much an education as it is a buying experience, and these days, the education  seems to be the biggest part of it.

Most of these photos were taken yesterday at Metrolina, and others were taken recently at various vintage venues.

I thought this camping cook chest was interesting, but it was so heavy!  The contents were aluminum, but that didn’t seem to help much.  To be used only for sites one can drive to.

I guess women in skimpy bathing suits have always been used to attract attention in advertising and on magazine covers.

All right, I’ll admit that I almost bought this golf themed handbag.

This was probably the most interesting thing I saw all day.  These are photographs that were colorized with red.  The young woman is a fencer, and the theme extends to the frame.  The seller said it came out of an estate in Tennessee, and she did not know the woman’s name, nor the date, but I’d say 1905-1914.  The fading is unfortunate, and was caused by sun exposure and the fact that the photos were backed with wooden slats.

Just in time for Easter was this fantastic store poster.  Pre-Easter sale at Calahan’s Women’s Wear, the latest spring modes just out.

I found a small example of Springmaid fabric – the one that was made after a controversial ad campaign by the company.

One seller had quite a few athletic letter sweaters.  This one was just full of the owner’s “trophies” including a very unexpected National Honor Society patch.

And if one was in the market for a Pendleton shirt, they had a terrific selection.

This is an example of Chimayo Weavers work, something I don’t see a lot of here in the Southeast.

And, yes, there were Scotties.  I was able to look, admire, and not buy.

This fake Louis Vuitton cardboard suitcase was covered in fake stickers of questionable taste.

Excuse the terrible photo, but I did have to share this one of an antique garment drafting machine.  I have no idea of how it worked, or if it were complete, but I loved that the instruction book was not lost.


Filed under Shopping

Hillsville Flea Market, 2014

Hillsville, Virginia is a sleepy little mountain town just north of the Blue Ridge Parkway and the North Carolina state line.  Way back in the 1970s the local VFW decided to do a gun show on Labor Day as a fund raiser.  The event grew and grew until it became one of the biggest flea markets in the Southeast.

The last time I went was two years ago,  and I vowed that was the last time for me.  It was too big and too filled with crafts and junk.  The presence of guns everywhere was a bit disconcerting.

But for some reason I thought I’d give it another try.  Quite unbelievably, it was a nice experience.  I think that the biggest difference was that the show has gotten smaller.  But not just that; the antique and vintage sellers have stayed while the crafty people were not as prevalent.  It was no longer an overwhelming day where even a fast shopper like me could not cover it all.

I’ve written several times about how many flea markets and antique shows have gotten smaller, so this was not a surprise.  I had noticed a gradual contraction of this venue since 2009.  I’ve also noticed this at the Metrolina, which is a flea market held in Charlotte.  And the Boston Globe recently ran an article about how the great Brimfield is on the decline. (Thanks to Carrie for the link.)

One of the major problems at places like Brimfield and Metrolina is the influx of stuff that looks old, but that is not.  I think Harry L. Rinker nailed it in the Globe article when he said, “It’s not a collectors’ market anymore, it’s a decorators’ market.”   Many people who are decorating a house care only about the look, not the pedigree, of an item.

Interestingly, I did not see a whole lot of that type of thing at Hillsville.  Maybe the difference is that Hillsville is a more rural area, with the shoppers coming from all over the Southeast, where as Metrolina and Brimfield serve a more urban, and thus trendy, clientele.

So I saw some really nice things, and even bought a few of them.  Today, I’ll give a brief tour of what did not make the cut.

My photo is poor, but this is the best vintage Nativity I’ve ever seen.  The condition was excellent, the lithography top-notch, the price tag appropriately high.

Surely, I thought, there is a hat in this pile for me.  Unfortunately there was not.

This dealer had the scarf motherload, and at $1 each she was selling them by the bag full.  There were hundreds of them, and I bet she made her booth rent on these alone.

This is the funniest sun hat ever.  The flowers did not look original to the hat, so I passed on it.

I loved this scissors and pin cushion necklace so much.  Is there a name for these?

This was a nice rack of vintage clothes, but notice the 1920s dress in front.  It has been shortened, and stitched with a machine at the hem.  Still, at least it was not cut and could be restored to original length.  That longer piece behind the dress is actually part of it, and is like an apron.

I really do wish I had gotten a better photo of this one.  It is a 1920s costume made of crepe paper petals attached to a muslin background.  It was adorable.

I wonder if one can get satellite radio on that thing.

I almost bought this for me to wear.  Cashmere, and simply gorgeous.

I saw lots of wonderful old feedsacks.

Old dog prints always get my attention.

Aren’t these a trip?  (Get it, a trip!)

I’ll be slowly but surely sharing all the great things that I did buy.


Filed under Shopping

Liberty Antiques Festival, Spring 2014

Last weekend was the one event that try to never miss, the spring Liberty Antiques Festival.   Twice a year some of the best sellers in the region gather for a big two day sale in the middle of a large field.  I can honestly say that I always find at least one exceptional item every show.

And now for the virtual shopping:

I used to collect vintage Halloween before the prices went sky-high-crazy.  These cards were tempting.

Store and salesman display boxes always get my attention.  I loved this one from Kickaway because I have a pair of black wool Kickaway bloomers.

This was a huge table of just summer handbags.

I thought this display for hair nets was interesting.  “For the Woman in Every Stage of Life”

That’s a great pair of 1920s or 30s outing boots.  The wooden thing behind them is a sweater block for knitters or for reblocking a sweater after washing.

This great dress was in the booth of Down South Vintage.  It is actually two pieces, with the skirt being attached to a bodice, and the beaded top is worn over it.  Note the curving waistband of the top. This was an exceptional garment, and I was not surprised to find an exceptional label:

Helena Barbieri was a very high-end evening and cocktail dress maker.

I’m afraid I’m starting to enjoy the self-portrait in the mirror thing.  Here I’m modeling a 1940s tilt hat that was all one big bloom.

Nice travel tag

This is a reminder to always look under the tables.  This was a lovely 1950s suit with matching shawl.

1966 Ar-Ex cosmetics color card.  I sure wish I’d saved all the ones the Avon lady used to drop off at my house.

I’m not a big fan of  Catherine Ogust for Penthouse Gallery dresses, but this print is great.  Seen at Design Archives in Greensboro.

For years Shadowline was a family-owned business in Morganton, NC.   Then the business sold and production stopped.  Now they have reopened with many of the products still being made in the USA.  Seen at Granddaddy’s Antique Mall in Burlington, NC.


Filed under Road Trip, Shopping

Liberty Antiques Festival – Fall 2013

Last weekend was my favorite regional antiques venue, the Liberty Antiques Festival.  It’s held in a large field under tents, and really does make for a great day of shopping and looking at wonderful old stuff.  As in years past, the festival does not quite live up to its promise of “No crafts or reproductions.”  There were several booths that contained antique-y stuff that was made to look old, and that’s a shame.

Still, the great majority of items were old, and there seemed to more dealers present than in the spring.  The crowd was a bit lighter though.  I’m not sure why, as it was a perfect day for out-of-doors antiquing.

The woman in the photo above made the deal of the day.  She bought two paisley shawls from the seller for $75.  They had a few little holes, but over all they looked great.

One seller had three boxes of vintage socks.  I loved the colors of these.

Lots of dealers had vintage Halloween collectibles.  I used to collect Halloween things before several books were written on the subject and the prices sky-rocketed.  I still love looking at it and I especially loved the big pumpkin, which is actually an apron.

This was a box of dead-stock swimsuits for little girls.  Note the Fuller Fabrics tag.

I should have bought this lounger, and probably would have been serious about it had there been two of them.

I usually don’t buy Seventeen (except for issues from the mid 1960s) unless they are dirt cheap.  These were $10 each, and while not terribly expensive, not worth it to me.

Love these great old ice skates!

This was a very interesting Edwardian dress.  Can you make out the beaded design?

Pretty creepy, no?

This attractive wool coat was labeled “Victorian,”  But it sure looks late 1930s to me.  The design on the front is very nice, and the price was attractive, but there were numerous moth holes.

This was a cute item – a booklet of cocktail napkins with anthropomorphic drinks.

This is a tin letter holder.  On the back was the date, 1923.  I really wanted this, but the seller was nowhere to be found and there was no price tag.  I meant to go back, but then forgot.

I can’t figure out why Acme used a brown boot in an ad featuring the Man in Black.

Meet Katie, the cutest salesgirl at the festival.

It’s always exciting to find a box full of miscellaneous old clothes.  In this case, I did not buy any of it, but there were some really nice items like that grey tweed.  It was a 1950s fitted jacket.

Nothing like a day on the farm!



Filed under North Carolina, 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

Liberty Antiques Festival, Spring 2013

Last weekend was the best time to be had in any cow pasture in the state.  I’m talking about the semi-annual Liberty Flea Market, or properly put, the Liberty Antiques Festival.  Hands down, it is the very best antiques and vintage show in my area, and so I’m happy to get up way before daylight for the drive.

In the past few years I’ve noticed that most flea markets and antique malls have gotten smaller.  In fact, my report last fall on Liberty indicted a smaller show with fewer buyers.  Not so this spring.  It was the most robust show I’ve ever attended there (and I’ve been going since 2005), with more dealers and definitely more buyers.   But best of all, the quality of items was up, but prices seemed to be stable.

I learned a long time ago that good markets are worth attending even if I don’t find anything to buy.  Fortunately, I did make some very nice purchases, but even more valuable is the experience of seeing things that are new to me.  The education at places like this can be priceless.

So here’s what I saw and learned on this trip.  I’ll show purchases later.

This is a very poor photo of a lovely booth.  The seller had some pretty 1920s and Edwardian dresses.

I admired this little collection of miniature hand cranked sewing machines.

I spotted this page from a 1959 McCall’s pattern catalog while looking through a stack of paper.  What caught my attention was how this was a design of a dress that was worn in Tall Story, starring Jane Fonda and Tony Perkins.  The movie was pretty much a flop, but there must have been enough buzz about it for McCall’s to do this tie-in.  What really irritates me about how McCall’s handled this sort of thing is how the fact that is is the same dress Fonda wore in the movie is not indicated in any way on the pattern envelope.  I know that people shopping for patterns in 1959 would have known, because the pattern would have been picked out from the catalog, but today the connection is lost.  They did this with other movie tie-ins, including four designs Givenchy did for Audrey Hepburn in How to Steal a Million in 1966.

I did not buy these fabric samples because they were a bit pricy.  I sort of regret it though, as they are such great examples of vintage North Carolina produced textiles.   The Glenco Mill is long closed, and the former company store is now a museum.

Such a great graphic for an odd product!

I thought this paper dress showing the hanging and folding feature of this suitcase was just charming!

The tag said this little loom was a salesman sample.  It certainly was complicated and detailed if that were the case.

There were a lot of Enid Collins bags, but this hot air balloon was the best.

With all the talk about Diana Vreeland recently, I was interested to see this poster for Dance, one of the last exhibitions she organized for the Costume Institute at the Met, in 1986.

Sylvia gives weight loss advice to the 1935 woman.

I loved this great little travel case for the Skipper doll.

This great advertising poster for work shoes features the cleanest farmer ever.

I wanted this really, really badly.

How about a pair of blow-up boot supports?

And finally, this has to be the most creative hat rack ever.





Filed under Shopping