Tag Archives: Metrolina

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

Vintage Shopping with the Vintage Traveler

My husband likes to remind me that it’s not shopping unless you buy something.  Maybe I should have titled this post Vintage Looking, because I do I lot more looking than I do buying.  I have learned that one does not have to buy all the great stuff in order to appreciate it.

Still, I often second guess myself, and the early 1930s hat above is a good example of that.  I love everything about it except the green color and the fact that it would not fit in neatly with my other early 30s things.

I can’t help but think about how handy this non-electric clothes dryer would be, not to mention the energy saving factor.

I’m really not very tempted by old Coca-Cola items, but I do love to see how they portrayed women in their sports attire.  Seems to me this model would be better off with a mug of hot cocoa than with the Coke.

I could use a bit of help with this dressage helmet. Any equestrians reading this, please enlighten me.

I recently bought a fantastic riding suit from the late 1930s or early 40s, and I’m now looking for a helmet.  They are quite commonly found, but I have no idea on how to put a date on them except to look at the interior construction and at the materials used.  Newer ones often have faux leather straps and plastic findings.  Does this one look 1930s to you experts?

I really don’t need another pair of 1950s pants, but these were tempting, mainly because of the hang tag.

Blue Bell was manufactured in Greensboro, North Carolina.  Maybe I was wrong to leave them behind.

Also interesting is the line on the tag, “Ask for my Color Mate.”  It appears that they were also making matching separates.

I had never even heard of this Asheville business, H. Redwood & Co.  The address no longer exists, as that stretch of Patton Avenue was demolished in the 1960s for the construction of the Northwestern Bank Building (now the BB&T Bank Building).

A visit to Asheville is not complete for the vintage lover without a peek into Magnolia Beauregard.  It’s worth it just to see the owner’s collection of mannequins and hat heads.

For a very short time in the mid 1960s, the surfer shirt was all the rage for boys and girls.  I really don’t see a lot of them, but a seller at Metrolina in Charlotte had this one.  That label and hang tag are everything.

If this had been one size larger, and if I was sure I could get the discoloration out, I’d have bought this one to wear.  Again, look at that great hang tag.

And finally, I thought this was a camping kit, but the tag identified it as some officer’s mess kit during WWII.  Still, wouldn’t this be great for a bit of vintage auto camping?


Filed under 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

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