Tag Archives: NC

Christmas Windows, Asheville NC

I went to Asheville today to see what was “new” in my favorite vintage places, and also to check out the Christmas windows.   It had never occurred to me that Asheville might have great holiday windows, but I saw in the newspaper that there had been a design contest on the theme “A Star is Born,” and I felt I owed it to myself to see them.  I had no illusions that the Saks and Bergdorf’s and Macy’s windows were facing stiff competition, but for a small city like Asheville I thought the display was pretty impressive.

Over the past twenty years, the civic leaders in Asheville have worked hard to revitalize downtown.  After most of the stores and restaurants abandoned the area and relocated at the mall, downtown Asheville was a rather scary place.  Only a few stores were able to hold on.  But they did, and slowly they were joined by other urban pioneers.  Today downtown Asheville is a wonderful place to shop and eat.  Best of all, almost all the businesses are locally owned.

But enough bragging on my little city.  Here is a tour of some of my favorite windows.


This window was made entirely of layers of cut paper.  It really was a showstopper.  Note that there is no product to be found!  This was one of the windows at
Sensibilities Day Spa.


This sock monkey carolers window was at the yarn shop, Purl’s Yarn Emporium.

Windows are really hard to photograph, so I’m sorry about the quality of this one at clothing store, Caravans.

I cannot resist polar bears.

This is one of the windows at Spiritex, which is a clothing store.  All the clothing is made here in Western North Carolina.

This is one of four star windows at the Chevron Trading Post.   These stars are made of paper and they are stunning.

This is the window at Mountain Lights, which is a seller of locally made candles and crafts.

Hip Replacements had a retro theme and won the Judges’ Favorite prize.  They sell retro and vintage clothing.

I couldn’t help but notice that some of the most effective windows I saw today were the ones that featured only a few, or even one product.  Some of the windows that I did not photograph looked like windows from the turn of the 20th century where shopkeepers piled the windows high with as much merchandise as possible.  I think people are attracted to visual clutter (like the star windows) but the clutter has to make sense.   Trying to show everything in the shop is just confusing.

So, what are the holiday windows like in your corner of the world?


Filed under Curiosities, Holidays, North Carolina, Shopping

Tanner of North Carolina

I’ve been wanting to write about Tanner of North Carolina for the longest time, but I didn’t have a dress from the company to show off.  You would think that I’d be stumbling over them in thrift stores seeing as how I am in North Carolina, but that just is not the case.  The company is located in Rutherfordton, which is only about seventy-five miles from me.  Actually, I did not find this one.  It was sent to me by April of NeatbikVintage, who is in South Carolina.

Tanner has an interesting history.  It was started as the Doncaster Collar and Shirt Company in 1931.  The founders were Bobo Tanner, and his wife Millie who had visited the town of Doncaster, England on their honeymoon.  They must have really liked the place to have named their company after it.

For several years they made shirts at Doncaster, but in 1935 the Junior League of Charlotte went looking for a factory that could make some shirtdresses for them to sell as a fundraiser.  This led to a change in product, as there was a good market for the dresses and the Junior League was successful at selling them.  Millie then came up with the idea of having women do direct sales, sort of like Avon and Tupperware.  Doncaster worked with women who became their Wardrobe Consultants, a business model that continues to this day.

In 1954 Doncaster added another label, Tanner of North Carolina.  Tanner was a casual line, made up primarily of cotton and silk prints.  Unlike Doncaster, it was sold in department stores and boutiques.

Today you can buy Doncaster clothing through their website, through a Wardrobe Consultant, or at one of the factory outlet stores that are sprinkled around the Southeast.  I’m almost ashamed to admit that I’ve never been to the big warehouse sale that is in Rutherfordton, but I’ve heard that it is quite an experience.

Unfortunately, the clothing is no longer made in North Carolina.  The company moved its factory operation to China in the 1990s.  I’ve read that they still maintain their own factory, and that gives them more control over safety and other human rights issues.  I hope that is the case.  Even with overseas manufacturing, Doncaster still employees about 250 people in Rutherfordton, and there are around 1700 Wardrobe Consultants around the country.

I’m curious if Doncaster items are common in different areas of the country.  The thrift stores here have lots of it, but that is because the outlets are here.  I also see quite a bit of Tanner and TannerSport labels clothing from the 1980s and 90s.

My dress is pretty typical of what was made under the Tanner label in the 1960s.  It’s a cotton novelty print, with accents of the blue.  Most of the shift dresses and shirt dresses from the 1960s and 70s had a matching belt.  Mine has the belt carriers, but the belt is missing.

Many thanks to April for this lovely gift.



Filed under Collecting, Designers, North Carolina, Novelty Prints, Textiles

Sew It Yourself with Cannon Towels and Sheets

I know that half the crafters on etsy think they invented DIY (do it yourself) but here’s proof that we Seventies hippie girls were the actual inventors of repurposing.

I’m joking, of course.  Remaking textile items has been going on as long as there have been textiles.  What changed were attitudes toward remodeling old textile items.  Whereas our grandmother and mothers during the Great Depression and WWII were well acquainted with making things last, the prosperity of the 1950s made remodeling old clothing unnecessary for many.

But then, in the late Sixties, we discovered the delights of old textiles.  To get in on the action companies that made new textiles pushed using their products as crafting materials.  This poster from Cannon Mills is a great example.


There’s no date on the poster, but all the Simplicity and McCall’s patterns featured are dated 1970.  That seems right to me.  I was in the ninth grade, and I was really into these type of  Peter Max-ish graphics.  

Cannon Mills was located in Kannapolis, NC.  The town was a mill town, but was the largest of its type with around 1600 homes, a hospital and YMCA.  By 1918 the factory had become the largest producer of towels in the world.  Other Cannon factories produced sheets and kitchen linens.  At the height of the company’s prosperity, there were 30,000 employees.  Starting in the 1980s there were a series of company mergers and sell-offs, and on one dark day in 2003, the Kannapolis mill closed, putting 4340 at that mill and 3310 others out of their jobs.  The Cannon name was sold, and products with the name are now produced in Asia.


Filed under Curiosities, North Carolina, Textiles

Vintage Shopping – Mooresville, NC

One of the great things about antique stores it that they are often located in the best buildings.  I love getting to go into an old mill or barn, or as in this case, old turn of the 20th century stores.  This mall is located in three joined buildings, all with the same arrangement of the upper floor being open in the middle like a balcony.  Very little seems to have been done to these great old stores, and shopping in them is almost like stepping back in time.

I love running across this old print.  It always makes me smile!

This shoe display was simply beautiful.  It’s enough to make a person want to open a shop just so she could justify its purchase.

I collect these cardboard movie star hangers from the 1960s, but I passed on Sophia and Michael.  The condition was pretty bad, but even worse, they were not priced.  Had they been a very reasonable price, I’d have picked them up, but in an antique mall if an item is not priced then usually the person at the counter has to track down the seller to ask the price.  It just was not worth the hassle, especially since there was a big chance I’d not want them anyway.

These were a set of old curtains.  I loved the print, but hanging in windows does more than just fade fabric.  It makes it brittle.  Again, these were not priced, or I might have gotten them for pillows for the patio.



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

Henry River Mill Village

Some time ago I posted about the Henry River Mill Village and the fact that the entire village was for sale.  The village was used in the filming of the Hunger Games as the poor District 12 home of the heroine, Katniss.  I was traveling through the area last week, and took the short detour off the Interstate to see Henry River for myself.

The entire tract is privately owned (and still for sale) and due to on-going problems with sightseers, trespassing is forbidden, but the state road runs through the village so it is possible to get a good look from one’s car.  There are about twenty houses still standing, with more outhouses than I’ve seen in a very long time.

Henry River Mill was opened in 1905 as a producer of cotton yarn.  Originally it was water powered, and a dam that was built to concentrate the falling water is still standing.  The mill closed in the 1960s, and the mill building burned in 1977.  Like many mill villages, Henry River was fairly self-sufficient, with a company store, a school and a church.  The mill was even able to produce electricity for the village.

The setting is quite beautiful.  The site starts on the top of a hill and the village winds down the hill to the river.  I just hope that any buyers of the site plan to preserve the village as mill villages are now few and far between.

This building is the old company store.  In the Hunger Games it was a bakery, and you can see the word “cakes” painted beneath the windows.  Note the very white board to the left of the door, under the windows.  The word “Pastries” was painted there, but one day the owner arrived to find that someone had ripped out the boards and taken them as a souvenir.  He replaced the boards and placed the site off limits to the public.  Can’t say that I blame him.


Filed under Curiosities, North Carolina, Textiles

Shopping Heaven – Brevard, NC

A couple of weeks ago I posted about driving over the mountain to Brevard, NC to meet up with Mod Betty from Retro Roadmap.  In the comments, Hollis mentioned that she’s been wanting to get to Brevard, and it reminded me that I really needed to do that myself.  Though the town is close to me, it’s a roundabout trip to get there due to the mountains, so I tend to neglect visiting as often as I should.  But I did make time last week, and I’ve now determined that I must get over there much more often.

Brevard is a small town of around 7600 people, though the population is higher in the summer when the summer residents are there.  The town really benefited several years ago when it was named in one of the first surveys of great places to retire, and so today it is thought of as a retirement town.  As any good thrifter will tell you, thrifting is best in affluent communities.  Many of the retirees are affluent, and they have time on their hands, and so there are quite a few privately run thrift stores for local charities.  It makes for a very good shopping experience.

The town has two antique malls, and several other stores with booths, some of which have old stuff.  There are vintage clothes scattered around, mixed in with newer wares.

If I were a knitter, I might have wanted this little charmer as a mascot.

Paris and fashion and the early 1960s.

And while the antique malls are fun, where Brevard really excites is in the thrifts.

Yes, I bought this 1920s Whiting and Davis bag in a thrift store.  I did not get it for $2, or anything crazy like that, but the price was far under what it would have been at an antique store, and the thing is in almost perfect condition, right down to the silk lining.

Another store down the street had this copy of Elsa Schiaparelli’s Shocking Life.  I already had a copy, but mine is rough, and without the dust jacket.  So I bought this one and will be giving the old copy away in January, so stay tuned if you are in need of that book.

I’m always in the market for some Cecil Beaton, so the first volume of his Diaries was a real find.  I also picked up Oleg Cassini’s autobiography, a 1933 copy of Fortune magazine that features the emerging New York fashion design scene, some 1950s sales brochures from an Asheville department store, Bon Marche,  and a 1983 Vogue.

I was so excited that I finally understood the rush that leads to youtube “haul” videos.  Okay, I exaggerate a bit, but I was a very happy shopper.


Filed under Collecting, North Carolina, Shopping