Tag Archives: Hillsville

Shopping with the Vintage Traveler – Fall 2018

I love fall, not because of football or because of the cooler weather, but because of all the great vintage buying opportunities. I do have priorities. The photos in this vintage shopping segment all come from the Asheville Flea for Y’all, the Hillsville, VA Flea Market, and the Liberty, NC Antiques Festival. Three different shopping experiences, all with their charms.

I spotted the little sewing chick at the Flea for Y’all. I then saw another one (or maybe it was the same) at Liberty a month later.

I try really hard to limit myself to the categories that I already collect, but this 1970s Delta Airlines shirt was a big temptation,

An interesting name for a business, don’t you think?

A seller had several of these French Spanish days of the week towels. I had to remind myself that I have enough linen towels to last my lifetime.

I had a set of sewing cards when I was very young. Someone must have known I would spend a lifetime stitching. These, alas, were unused. What a missed opportunity.

After spending the summer reading about quilts, I have to stop and examine every one I encounter. This is from the 1930s or 40s, and would be considered a scrap or strip quilt. I love how the maker stuck to the blue color scheme.  These scraps are mainly cotton, and many are from feedsacks.

Moving on to Hillsville, Virginia, which is a flea market held on Labor Day weekend. It is a true flea market, with a combination of great old stuff and crafts and guns and common junk. In short, it is not for everybody, and only the thought of all the wonderful things found here in the past keeps me going back.

This is the fabric of my dreams, and from time to time it comes up for sale as a 1950s gathered skirt. This was the back of a quilt which was very much used and washed.

That sweet baby bib looks to be from the 1930s. And on the right is the gift we all need but don’t know it – a hankie shirt.

This interesting image of a woman swimmer is on a fan, circa 1915. I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen a bathing cap with a feather.

I’m not sure how many different designs were made for feedsack bags, but there had to have been thousands. I liked that this one still had the label that identified it as being from a flour mill in Asheville. And what’s more, I’ve had this same feedsack fabric.

I love old button cards, especially those that show you what they will look like after you sew them on a shirt.

To compare with the cotton 1930s quilt above, here is a similar concept, but in rayon fabrics from the 1940s and 50s. I love the added touch of the embroidery.

And finally, this past weekend I went to the Liberty Antiques Festival. It’s kind of hard to criticize this show, as it’s about as good as it gets around here. They advertise there are absolutely no reproductions allowed at this show, but I’m afraid this is not the case. At least three sellers had nothing but new stuff made to look old.

One of my very favorite vintage sellers, the great Nanette, was there. I’ve known and bought from her for many years, and she still has one of the best booths around.

What I love about Liberty is the chance to see things that just don’t make it to the average antique mall.

I know they must be at every garage sale in New England, but 19th century hatboxes are very rare in the South. There are some Southern-made ones, as the MESDA collection has a few. This one, as expected, was labeled as being from Maine, and was priced at around $500. One with a Southern provenance would have been more, and it would have sold very quickly.




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Hillsville, VA Flea, Labor Day Weekend, 2012

Last weekend I went to the big Hillsville, Virginia flea market, and I hope you enjoy this review because it will be my last one of this particular market.  It is just too big, too crowded, too hot and too filled with junk.  I could deal with the first three problems, but the last one is just a deal killer.

I actually had made this same vow to never return last year, and then I started thinking about some of the wonderful things I’ve gotten there in the past, and so I weakened.  And what is so frustrating about the entire thing is that all they would have to do is section the place off with an area just for antiques and vintage, an area for crafts, an area for guns (this actually started as a gun show) and so on.  But wandering through the entire space with only about one third of it being of interest is too exhausting.

Not that I didn’t spot some lovely things.  I certainly did:

From one of the prettiest embroidered wool quilts I’ve ever seen.  And the icing on the cake:

Signed and dated.

Click to enlarge

If I had a cabin or a lake house, I’d have pounced on this charming painting.  It’s in need of a cleaning, but in person it was really sweet.

My number one hint for places like this is “Don’t be afraid to dig.”  These boxes looked like curtains and calendar towels from the 1980s, but scattered thoughout the boxes were some nice vintage frocks.

In case you are going on a trip and need a lot of pencils.

This is a bad photo of a very nice advertising piece.  It’s for Phillip Morris cigarettes.  It was really super, with a price to match.  And what does one do with something this massive?

And speaking of Phillip Morris, here’s a poster from a few decades later.

This one is here just because I thought it was cute.

But how weird are these!

And I’ll end with a buyer beware.  If you have ever been tempted to buy a concert poster that might be authentic, just be aware that these are being printed by the thousands.  This guy had dozens of each design, and he must have been doing a great business with the other dealers because they were everywhere.



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Rambling Thoughts

I’m back from the big Hillsville, Virginia Flea and ready to share a bit. First up, the one I just barely got before the sky opened up and rain poured down, closing the market an hour early.  Can you guess what I bought from the above display?

I bet those of you who are regular readers are thinking the hatbox, and that is a great guess, but I already had that particular box.  No, I bought the Hapi Cat box handbag, an Enid Collins favorite.  I’m really not a particular fan of cats, (having lived though nineteen years of Aramis  the Wonder Cat) but I, and most Collins of Texas fans, have always thought the cat was one of her best motifs.  I’d tell you what I paid, but I’m afraid it would inspire envy.  Even with the missing jewels, it was a very hapi find.

Otherwise, it was an Art Deco sort of trip, with all my other purchases coming from 1925-1932ish.  I can’t complain about that.

But on the whole, this flea market trip has gotten to be a bit too much.  The main problem is that anything goes here.  This does not pretend to be an antiques market.  It started out as a gun show and just grew and grew.  Today there are some wonderful antiques and collectibles sellers, but there is a heck of a lot of down right junk, and it is all mixed together so that to find the good stuff you have to pass by an awful lot of pure tacky.  It all just leaves me exhausted.

So, this may be my last trip to Hillsville.  It’s weekends like this that make me wish I were farther north so I could easily go to the vintage show at Sturbridge, and the fields at Brimfield.

I also liked:

Very nice sweater, but I’m just not set up for fur.

These prints are quite common, but always pricy.  Pretty, no?  There are several others in the series.

And just for a smile, a bit of Holt Howard.

I took the slow road home, just because I needed to catch my breath.  In this case, the slow road is the Blue Ridge Parkway, which follows the crest of the Blue Ridge from the middle of Virginia through western North Carolina.

This is Grandfather Mountain.  On the far left, near the bottom is the Linn Cove Viaduct, a specially designed bridge that was built so as not to disturb the fragile eco-system of Grandfather.  It curves around the mountain, and was the last link of the road to be completed, in 1983 at a cost of $10,000,000.  You can actually park and go under the Viaduct for a very interesting view of it.


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These Made the Cut

Like many people, I’ve been working on scaling back the stuff.  That doesn’t mean I’d ever give up collecting, it just means that I’m a lot pickier about what I do buy.  It has to be something I really love, or really need.

Lately, I’ve been wanting to get back to the sewing machine, now that the weather has cooled a bit.  So I was especially looking for some great vintage fabric.

Seek and ye shall find:

Some really great 60s or 70s duck which will make some nifty travel bags and journal covers

There were only scraps of this print, but I’ll find a use for it, I promise.

Someone is going to get new pajama pants!

And there’s more that I don’t have photographed, including a super red print from the 40s that I already have cut into pieces to make a blouse, and a white with black and blue tattersal that is also destined to become a blouse or shirt.

I thought this dress was pretty, but it was the Jerry Gilden label and the $5 price tag that sold me on it.

I’d had a bag of this type on my want list for a while, and the detailing on it is very nice.

I pulled this Hermes for Wear-Right set out of a $1 box!

Can’t resist art hankies.

I’m always searching for fashion magazines, and was happy to find these two.  Unfortunately, I already had the Bazaar, so it will be listed on etsy tomorrow.

If one buys fabric, than one must also buy patterns.  It’s one of the rules.

This is a 1920s candy box, and it needs no explanation!


Posted by Karen/Small Earth Vintage:

I would say you did very well, very well indeed! I can’t pick one item I love above all the others–they are all fantastic! 

Wednesday, September 8th 2010 @ 7:32 AM

Posted by Em:

Incredible finds at unbelievable prices–wow!!!!!!!! 

Wednesday, September 8th 2010 @ 6:54 PM

Posted by Lin:

The Tourist candy box? My total favourite. No shock there then! 

Thursday, September 9th 2010 @ 4:05 PM

Posted by Helen:

These are brilliant! I love the candy box so much (anything to do with the history of travel seems to be one of my weaknesses). I’ve just stumbled across your blog and it seems to me that you find such great things. I love how there is so much history comes from some of things people love and have. I’ll be watching your blog from now on! 

Monday, September 13th 2010 @ 5:15 AM

Posted by Lizzie:

Thanks all. If you have time, click on Helen’s name and go to her blog to see a very interesting video on LV trunks. 

Friday, September 24th 2010 @ 5:40 PM

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Hillsville Flea, 2010

I just returned from two days of the madness otherwise known as Hillsville.  As usual, it did not disappoint, though I’d sure like to make some changes to that place.

Hillsville is a small town in southwestern Virginia, and they have been hosting the Hillsville Gun Show and Flea Market since 1968.  This year they predicted there would be close to half a million visitors over the long weekend.  And this is a small town of less than 3000!  The show completely takes over the town, with streets turned into selling spots.  It really is madness, and is only for the hardened flea market fanatic.

The show is about 40% junk, 40% good vintage and antiques, 10% food and maybe 10% guns.  The big problem is that it is all jumbled up together.  You have to walk past a lot of tube socks and tin can yard ornaments to see all the old stuff.  And because it is all spread across two high hills and one deep valley, it can really wear you out.  Add the crowds and the heat, and you can see why I’d never take anyone but myself to this place.

So why do I keep going back, year after year?  Because there are some top notch dealers who go there and not to any other shows in this area.  I’ve made some incredible finds.

So here is a little taste of Hillsville, showing some of the things I thought were interesting, but for which I didn’t find a place in my already over crowded home.

Dated 1928, I thought this manicure set was just lovely.

Here it is in its natural habitat.

Traveling the USA popup book from the 1940s.  Cute but pricey.

I could collect vintage letter sweaters, really, I could!

I almost bought that pink tote, and will probably regret that I forgot to go back and give it a second look.

Big girl’s dress with fabric dated 1964.

See what this place does to you?  I really wanted to join these 2 in their afternoon nap!

Tomorrow, what came home with me.

Posted by Sarah:

Goodness, that does look arduous! All your ‘left behind’ picks look so tantalising. 

I struggle with big events such as this because its so hard to evaluate what to spend my very limited budget on. Do you go with that great item you find in the first hour, or wait and see if something better turns up? Its all part of the challenge I suppose!

Monday, September 6th 2010 @ 1:00 AM

Posted by ++f+:

oh my. 1/10 of that and i’d give up already. but i’d still go, for sure. how i wish i could score a vintage camera! 

Monday, September 6th 2010 @ 7:32 AM

Posted by Karen/Small Earth Vintage:

Oh, that Mary Poppins dress! I find flea markets so overwhelming. Ours seem to have a much higher percentage of junk, too. 

I can’t wait to see what you brought home!

Monday, September 6th 2010 @ 8:10 AM

Posted by Lizzie:

I guess I should point out that the top photo is just a very small part of the entire spectacle. Multiply it times about 12 and you get the full picture. 

Monday, September 6th 2010 @ 8:30 AM

Posted by Melinda:

Good grief, what a scene! You must have had fun! 

Friday, October 22nd 2010 @ 6:28 AM

Posted by Lizzie:

Fun?? Yes!! 

Friday, October 22nd 2010 @ 7:04 AM


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Hillsville Flea Market, 2008

You are looking at the one that got away.  I collect vintage clothing advertising, mainly print because of storage issues, but the Hollywood Vasserete girl caught my eye.  Nothing in the booth was priced (What’s with that, anyway!?) and I knew she wasn’t going to be cheap.  But I braced myself, and asked the dreaded question:  “How much?”

The moment the vendor opened his mouth I knew I was in trouble.  He talked about how much he loved her and I realized there was a bit of a personal attachment.  He finally got to “$175,”   and I countered with a sincere, “What’s your best price?”  At that he just stopped and pondered and said, “You know I just can’t sell her for any less.”

To make thing worse he went into a long story about how he usually pays good money for the things he buys, but that he had spotted her on a dealer’s $1 table at the Charlotte Metrolina Flea.  He reached out for her but another guy beat him to her.  So he waited until the other guy paid his $1 and left the booth, and then he followed him to try and buy it.  The other guy said sure, he’d sell it, but he had to at least double his money!!   That’s right, he sold it for $2.

Maybe she is worth $175, I don’t know, but if you look closely, there are cracks where her feet meet the base, and the base is very slightly warped.  So she stayed behind with a guy who loves her more than I do.

Another dealer had these great 1940s men’s Jantzen swimsuits.  Note the tags still attached!

And even more vintage goodies!

I really enjoy going to Hillsville every year, but it is an exhausting show.  There’s a lot of ground to cover, and about half of it is new junk.  Still, I always leave with some incredible treasures.

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