Tag Archives: shopping

Flea Marketing Rules

I first wrote this list ten years ago, and I’ve repeated it and updated it several times since then.  Since flea market season is upon us (I’m headed out early tomorrow for the big Liberty Antiques Market!!) I thought it would be a good time to remind myself of my own rules.

Every year I miss some good stuff at the first market just because I forget to follow my own rules.  I thought writing them out might make them stick, kind of like the teacher making you write “I must not chew gum” 100 times!

1.  Go prepared.  Many of these events are partially or entirely out-of-doors.  I keep my VFG totebag packed with a hat, lipgloss, hard candies, tissues and antibacterial lotion.  I usually throw in a snack and a bottle of water. Food is often of the junky variety, so a healthy snack that you bring along might be more to your liking.  Keep in mind that restroom facilities may be primitive (so stop at the closest fast food place before entering) and handwashing not possible.

2. But don’t take stuff you don’t need. If the fair is in a field, a rolling cart is pretty much useless unless it has very large wheels.  Leave your big and full-to-bursting handbag at home, and carry a small bag with just the essentials.  I have a little wrist bag that holds just my cash, cards and cell phone.  I attach it to my totebag so I won’t accidentally drop it.  Do not bring along family members or friends who will slow you down and whine about being bored.

3. Take cash. Many vendors will take a check, but few take credit or debit cards, and they don’t give the best deals if they have to pay bank fees.  Most big flea markets do have an atm, so credit cards can be handy.  Try to have a stash of small bills for cheap purchases.

4. Dress comfortably. For now and the fall, layers are great.  The mornings are cool, but the afternoons hot.  And wear comfortable walking shoes that you are not afraid to get dirty! If it has been rainy and the event is out of doors, take a pair of rubber boots.

5. Identify yourself. With your clothing, I mean.  I carry a Vintage Fashion Guild tote that has a  logo that identifies me as a person who is interested in fashion items.  I also often wear a Scottie dog pin, as I also collect Scottie items.  Dealers notice these things, and will offer you things you might have overlooked.

6.  Buy it when you see it.  I don’t care how big it is, I don’t care that your arms are full, I don’t care that the vendor is very busy and you are in a big hurry.  If you spot something that you intend to buy, do NOT leave the booth without buying it.  If you do, one of the following will happen – You will forget about the item until you are half way home.  You will go back to the booth just in time to see another buyer happily paying for YOUR item.  You will forget where the booth is and spend hours searching for it a second time, but never finding it.  Trust me on this one.  If I had time I’d tell you about the 1920s velvet cape with a Paris label, but it always makes me cry.

7.  Don’t be afraid to ask for a discount. Most dealers will give you at least 10%, and if it is near the end of the show, often they will offer quite a bit more. But be nice and not demanding.  Please, don’t be greedy.  If the price is $1, just pay it!  If you pull a pristine Pucci scarf out of a box of ratty old linens, please give the guy his $2 asking price.  It’s good Karma.

8.  Ask dealers if they have what you are seeking. If you find a dealer who seems to have a lot of vintage clothing, or whatever you want, ask if he or she has more.  Chances are they do, and chances are you’ll be going to other fairs where that dealer will be selling.

9. Carry some of your business cards and give them to anyone who might have leads on what you are looking for.  Even if you are not in a “business”, you need business cards if you collect or blog.

10.  Inspect items carefully.  I’ve been known to get so carried away with a find that I neglected to give it a good going-over. This can lead to heartbreak when you get home and realize half of the 1920s Vogue bargain magazine was used to make paper dolls.

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Nan Duskin, 1942

I recently ran across this little booklet from famed Philadelphia clothing store, Nan Duskin.  Duskin started in fashion retail at the Philadelphia branch of Bonwit Teller, and later moved to The Blum Store.  In 1926 she opened her namesake ladies’ store.  She sold the store in 1959, and it eventually closed in 1995.

Nan Duskin ran a very up-scale establishment, more like a salon actually.  There were regular fashion shows with customers picking their choices to have tailored to fit.  After the store was sold in 1959 the new owner changed the format to that of a regular ready-to-wear shop, a move that led Ms. Duskin to regret selling.

But still, it was a store that continued to sell all the best labels.  If you find a dress with a Nan Duskin label, it will probably have another label as well that could range from Chanel to Jean Muir to Oscar de la Renta.

My little booklet dates to 1942, and I greatly suspect it was designed and printed before the USA joined WWII.  There is no mention of the war, which would have been unusual, and the text refers to the Southern season, which would have been January and February.  These were clothes suitable for travel, and also light weight for a visit to Florida.

For a store that became known for selling the latest in designer labels, it seems interesting that not a single designer is mentioned in the booklet.  Of course, by late 1941 the flow of fashion from Paris had slowed to a trickle, and so stores like Nan Duskin had to rely on American manufacturers who even in the early Forties were not always crediting the designer.

Most of the clothes in the booklet were made from Celanese rayon.  It could be possible that this was a joint advertising booklet between Nan Duskin and Celanese.

Even though the war is not mentioned, there is a lot of red, white, and blue in these clothes.  And be sure to take notice of the hats as well.  Although not described in this book, Nan Duskin did sell hats.  And what hats these are! Definitely high fashion.

I’d love to hear any memories you might have of Nan Duskin.

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Vintage Shopping with the Vintage Traveler

Once again, it’s time for a little shopping trip, this time to antique stores in east Tennessee and along I-26 in South Carolina.  Above you see what could possibly be the most interesting girdle produced in the 1960s.

Lilli Ann is a well-known (and coveted) label in the vintage world.  Most desired are the high quality suits and coats from the 1940s and 50s, but the company produced some interesting clothes in the 60s as well.  In the mid 60s and into the 70s they made some great dress and coat ensembles in a nice polyester knit, sort of mod for the married set.  This vest is made of wool knit and is made in Hong Kong which seems to put it in the early 60s.  I’m sure there was originally a matching dress or skirt.

That’s a lot of design.

The over-flowing hat basket is a commonly found feature of antique malls.  This one gets extra credit for being a double.

This is a close-up view of a 1890s bodice.  The fabric is velvet, and is beyond beautiful.

There were several Vested Gentress dresses at one store.  This one is a classic, with Briney Bear the dog and his nemesis, Pedro the parrot.

In 1919 the US Army had not quite given up on the horse.

This Caribbean themed fabric was interesting.  It was in three pieces, all the size of feedsacks, but it was rayon instead of cotton.  There were even stitch holes like are seen in deconstructed feedsacks.

Collier’s Weekly often featured sports on their covers.  I love that she’s reading a book titled, How to Ski.

This is a late 1930s dress for a preteen girl, which shows that even a ten-year-old wants a fashionable sleeve.

As long as I live I will never understand why anyone would cut up an old crochet piece so she can hot glue it to a pair of vintage (and almost antique) boots.  These are canvas, of the type made by Keds, though I’ll admit I was too upset to even look for a label.

When I was a kid in the 1960s, Evening in Paris was considered a cheap gift given by boys who were beyond clueless.  I do have to admit that this set from probably the early 50s is pretty nifty.

This bag is by John Romain, which looks to be an attempt by that company to keep up with the times.  Romain bags were popular in my area in the mid 1960s, but nobody was carrying them by the 70s.  Funny, though, to see a handbag with a piece symbol.  By that time it was all about the shoulder bag.

Cute Scotty dog sighting, but I was strong and left the pair for another dog lover.

And finally, possibly the largest item I have ever seen for sale in an antique store, a late 1940s Pontiac Silver Streak.

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A Good Shopping Day

After whining about the poor state of the vintage market, I thought I really ought to counter my last post with a more positive view.  That is, simply put, there are plenty of old treasures still out there.  Many times the things are tremendous bargains.  I don’t buy things because they are cheap, though.  I buy what I know is fairly priced, and finding a bargain is always a pleasant plus.

I mentioned in the comments that I could resale everything I bought on that shopping trip and make a nice profit.  These days I buy only for my collection, but with a bit of luck and patient looking, one can still find things for resale, and I suspect that part of the reason I find fewer things for myself is because diligent sellers have shopped before me.

The bag above was someone’s embroidery project, and she did a very nice job of it.  Instructions for bags of this nature are commonly found in women’s magazines in the 1910s through the early 20s.  This is linen, embroidered in  cotton.  The ribbons are old, but probably not original, as they appear to be a later rayon type.

I’ll give a better look at all these items later, because you really do need a good look at the details of all.  The Christmas card is actually a photo holder.

I found this little change purse at an antiques mall.  It is only three inches high, and probably dates from the later 1940s or early 50s.

I’ve been looking for a good pair of dumbbells, not to use, but to display with my early gym attire.  These are only a half pound each, and must have been for a very weak person, or maybe a child.

After having just posted about vintage chenille, I was lucky enough to stumble across this beach cape.  See the anchors?

And the back is a complete beach scene with palms, sun, gulls, and what might be a life preserver.

And what was probably my favorite find, an early 1920s dress, complete with machine embroidery and covered button trim.  My photo does not begin to do it justice, and I will post a better photo of it later to show it off and to talk about the construction.

Here’s a closer look at the hem along with the buttons.

I don’t usually talk about the prices of things, as what is more important is an object’s value as an object of history and as a piece that helps me tell a story through my collection.  But as proof that bargains are still to be found, I will tell you that I paid a total of $59 for the items above.  Yes, it was a very good shopping day.

 

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Shopping with The Vintage Traveler: Asheville, NC

After several days of looking at photos on the internet of people baking Christmas goodies, I decided I needed a break from the I’m-not-cooking-guilt.  What could be nicer than a day shopping in the antique and vintage emporiums of Asheville?

I call it shopping, but what I really do is 99% looking as my life is a textbook case of knowing that I have more stuff than I need already, and that  I’m out of space for more.  Still, looking is an education, and that requires no space at all.

I adored the postcard of the shipboard shuffleboarders.   And even though postcards take up little space, I resisted.

This Vera Neumann shirt from the early 1970s is such a great example of her work.  I’ve written before how she would paint the design and then her team would convert it into a garment.  The print was engineered so that the pieces of the garment were printed right onto the fabric.

This was a new one for me.  This is a close-up of a quilt made from pieces of felt, at least some of which were from pennants.  Big faux fur diamond shapes were appliqued over, and the whole thing was tied to join the front and back.

This is a shawl or stole, with a silk paisley print on one side, and a deep pile velvet on the other.  I took photos of it because it reminded me so much of one I found and bought not too long ago.

I’m still trying to figure out the target customer for this piece.

This piece started life as a tablecloth, but I think I like it better as an oversized top.  It looks like it was made in the late 1950s or early 60s, by the shape of the collar and neckline.

Why is the tablecloth-turned-top acceptable to me while this conversion of vintage skates to Christmas decoration is not?  Maybe it is because I’ve been looking for a nice pair of women’s 1950s skates, and here they are all covered with fake snow.  I do find skates a surprising lot considering I’m in the South, but they are usually cheap vinyl.  These are leather, and were well-made.

This was interesting, and a bit unexpected.  It’s a sketch by Grace Sprague, who was Edith Head’s assistant and main sketcher in the 1950s and 60s.

If I ever become a time traveler, the guy on the left will be my Edwardian boyfriend.

The poor woman driver runs deep in our consciousness.  The Victorians started it with their cartoons of the woman on her bicycle, and this Colliers cover perpetuated the myth.

These left me speechless.  Made by Wrangler, I’m quite sure they were made for men.  (I forgot to check the fly to see which way it was oriented.)

Aren’t these photos fantastic?  I wonder if they were actually used in an advertisement.

I see a lot of vintage tailoring displays and books, but this one is nice because it features a woman’s suit as well as a man’s.

And just to show that it’s not just about clothes, here are two little Scottie friends.

I did actually make two purchases.  One is a 1942 Make and Mend for Victory booklet by the Cotton Spool Company.  The other is a 2013 book on French designer Jean Patou.  It’s one of those huge, over-sized books that could have been published small for half the price, but I had to have it because of the wonderful photos of Patou’s sportswear.  Many of the photos came from the Patou archive, and are simply envy-inducing.  Bathing suits, tennis dresses, and ski wear – Patou did them all.

These wonders can be found at Bryant Antiques, Local, Screen Door, and Sweeten Creek Antiques, all in the Biltmore area of Asheville.

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Liberty Antiques Festival – Fall 2015

For ten years I’ve been going to the Liberty Antiques Festival.  I’ve always gone by myself, leaving my husband, Tim, at home with the dog.  But we are now dogless, our dear little terrier having left us after over eighteen years, and so Tim decided to see what it is that is so interesting that I have to go twice a year to a field that is literally in the middle of nowhere.

Unfortunately, the weather was dismal, with rain alternating with more rain, and so we spent a wet morning trying to visit all the vendors who were huddled under their tents in an effort to keep their treasures dry.  Still we had a really good time, and we both kept a sense of humor about the day, especially with so many great things to see.

The Ideal Velveteen illustration was a store counter ad that someone framed.  It was so pretty.

This booth is vintage handbag heaven.

One seller had several dozen feedsacks.  I love looking at them, trying to find unusual designs and novelty prints.  The one on the far right caught my eye.

How great is that?

I guess that this is proof that fashion has been used to sell almost anything!

I fell head over heels for this tea towel with Scotties.

There were few fashion magazines this time, but it seems like I always find something to stop and study.

Which is better, the hair tonic and head rub sign, or the doll hospital cut-out sign?

These adorable little children’s dresses were tempting.  I can’t help thinking that they were made for twins.

I suppose this is a Southwestern Native American souvenir piece, Navajo perhaps.

I could not help but imagine all the great stuff that had to have passed under that sporting goods sign.

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Shopping with the Vintage Traveler – July, 2015

Summertime is hot in North Carolina, so I usually don’t leave the cooler mountains until September.  But I was enticed down to the flatlands by the Vintage Charlotte Summer Market. This market has been going on now for several years, but for this event they moved to a larger venue and there were more vendors.  And, I’m happy to report, some of the regular vendors had really upped their game.

I also went to a large antique mall in Charlotte, the Sleepy Poet, which is always good for a few hours browsing.  So some of these photos are from Vintage Charlotte and others are from the mall.

How great is this 1950s handbag?  The beads are glued on, and the eyeglasses are cut from felt.

Not only were these wonderful late 1940s shoes in perfect condition, the details put them a few steps above the average shoe.  I loved that gold trim with the brown suede.

That’s Andi of Raleigh Vintage on the left.  She and Isaac always have a terrific booth.

I’m crazy for suitcases and luggage of all types, but I spotted this little case and just could not figure it out.

Turns out it is a portable card file!

Sometimes an imitation can be even greater than the original as in the case of this Lilly Pulitzer wannabe.  It is so much of a copy that you can almost – but not quite – find the Lilly signature in the print.  Frankly, I think it is better than most Pulitzer prints I’ve seen.

I have a collection idea for all the necktie wearing readers: Rooster ties.  Rooster was owned by Max Raab, the man behind Villager. Rooster ties were unusual because of the square end and because they were cut on the straight of the fabric rather than the bias.  The novelty prints that Rooster used are fun and whimsical, as you can see in the four examples above.

Poppycock Vintage had some super little hats.

That favorite date is very late, but hopefully he’ll not be a cheap date and just buy her the chocolate marshmallow special.

Even the inside of that notebook is great.

There was a lot to look through at Vintage Charlotte, and if you are in the area it is well worth a drive to Charlotte.  They have the market several times a year, with the next one being in November, I think.  I didn’t buy a lot, but I did find an arm-load of 1950s fashion magazines.  That always equals a great day of shopping.

 

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