Monthly Archives: October 2013

Miss Madeline

As part of my Halloween celebrations, I went to the Wild Rumpus parade on Saturday night in downtown Athens, Georgia.  What a blast!  High energy.  Lots of fun.  And wonderful costumes!  Creative and elaborate, or plain and simple.  Those in costume were obviously enjoying themselves.  As were the spectators.

Costumes ranged from jellyfish to young giraffes.  Of course there were a numbers of monsters and ghouls, but also Star Trek ladies, ladies of the evening, flappers, brides, and even a woman who was dressed as a strip of photos.   Like you get from a photo booth.  But there was one person, who I caught out of the corner of my eye, who I would like to thank.

Miss Madeline, French schoolgirl, I thank you for making an appearance.  Why her?  When my children were young, I would read to them the stories of Miss Madeline and her fellow schoolgirls.  And we would sing her song too.  Don’t remember the words now.  But the best part was how every book ended with the words, “And most of all, we love each other.”

So, when I drove the girls to school everyday I would say to them, “work hard, do your best, and most of all, we love each other.”  To this day, many years later, all we have to say is, “and most of all…” and the meaning is understood.

This morning I got a letter from my youngest daughter.  At the end she wrote, “and most of all, we love each other.”  Thank you Miss Madeline, whoever you were.

That’s part of my story.  What’s yours?


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Thick Skin

He offered what?!!  Why, that sassafrassin’, gob stoppin’, gall darn, low down dirty dog!  What nerve!  Who does he think he is?  Ridiculous!  Jerk.

Whoa, dude!  Get a grip!  Yeah, yeah, yeah, somebody offered you a ridiculously low price for something in the store. Don’t have a cow.  It’s business.  Could be they really are uneducated as to the true value of the object and therefore offered something  unacceptably low.  Educate them.  Or, more likely, its someone trying to snag a deal.

Yesterday I got a call from the antique mall folks.  They said there was a customer who wanted something I had in my store.  I had it marked at a certain price but they wanted to know if I’d take half.  My immediate response?  Oh, no.  Not even close.  I came back with something about eighty five percent of the original price.  I didn’t know right away, but they took that deal.

As I thought about it, I got more and more offended.  Sell my treasure for half price? Never!!!  But, from the buyer’s perspective it’s worth a shot.  Maybe you make the seller mad and the party is over.  Or, you start a haggle and settle on something.

If I’d had that thing sitting in the store for years and no one ever offered anything, I might have considered the half price offer.  But I had just put it out a week ago, and it had some real historical significance.  As well as personal connection.

Personal or not, it’s just a thing.  And things have market value.  Some things have a more precisely established value than others, but there is still a generally accepted price range regarding the value.  Have to take the emotion out of it and keep it business.  When you are making your sales pitch you can load up all the emotion and sentimentality and historical value and “you gotta have this” you want, but in setting, or settling on a price, it’s all business. 

I have to work on having thicker skin.  That sassafrassin’ jerk ended up paying a fair price, and both of us were happy.  I just had to get over the emotion.  I’m sure glad I’m not trying to sell my granny’s old house where there are so many memories.  Thick skin!

That’s part of my story.  What’s yours?

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Polishing the Silver

It’s never quite the way it looks on television.  When you see this product’s advertisement it seems that if you hold up this bottle of silver polish anywhere near a piece of old and soiled silver, the tarnish will just jump right off.  Terrified.  And if you actually were to touch polish to silver, you would need not just a pair of protective gloves, but also a very dark pair of sunglasses.  That one drop of polish has turned that old metal into a new and brightly shining sun!

In reality, it’s not that easy.  I have no idea how they polished silver in the old days.  Maybe they just used it all the time so it couldn’t tarnish.  Or perhaps they just rubbed it until their fingers were raw.  A little lemon juice?  I don’t know.  Now of course we have all sorts of chemicals in various forms.

This stuff was old, and really far gone so I went to the hard stuff.  Liquid.  Dab it on and off comes the grime.  Well, dab it a few times.  And rub and scrub with a rag.  And then do it again.  Maybe once more.  Still don’t quite need the sunglasses.

Many years ago I used some product that was a cloth glove impregnated with some sort of polishing agent.  Put on the glove and just hold the object.  Hmmm.  Hold it and caress it a little.  Or maybe massage it.  Or maybe just beat the tar out of it!  That stuff actually worked, with a lot of effort.

The advertising says nothing about the assault on your nostrils either.  That stuff really stinks when it hits the silver!  It’s hard to describe.  Burnt plastic maybe?  It gets on your hands.  And stays there.  For days.  Makes me afraid to touch any of the food I need to eat!  And the skin is starting to peel off my fingers.

Maybe the folks on TV didn’t have the same kind of silver I do.  Really dirty.  Or maybe I didn’t follow the instructions to a tee.  Or read the fine print.  Whatever.  I shoulda known polishing silver was gonna be a bear.  No one ever says, “Gee, I just love to polish the silver!”  But I got it done and the stuff looks great.  I do recall the sense of awe that overcame me when I saw the last piece’s transformation.  Well done, good and faithful servant.  Well done.

That’s part of my story.  What’s yours?

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Bull in a China Shop!

My parents loved to go to antique shops.  And they loved to take me along.  In the early days, it was dragging me along, but I learned to enjoy it.  What I remember was my father always pointing to the signs on the walls.  “You break it, you buy it.”  “We break it, we cry, you break it, you buy.”  He did not want to be buying anything I broke.

If you know me, you would have a hard time believing that I was a wild child.  And in truth, I wasn’t.  Hands to myself.  Very quiet.  Out of the way.  Maybe because of the signs.  But I never broke anything in a store.

Nowadays, I still see those signs.  Even if the sign isn’t there, it’s pretty much a rule that if you break it, you become the proud owner of that broken piece of junk.  There was a time not too long ago however when I was in an antique shop and I heard a crash and the breaking of either glass or porcelain.  I held up my hands and instinctively said, “Wasn’t me!”  Turned out that some man was trying to reach something and bumped a very wobbly table that had several things on it.  Wobbly might not be the right word.  With the bump, it collapsed.  And to the ground went with it the glass items that had been resting on top.

Apparently the man was devastated and offered to buy everything, but the shopkeeper said it was his fault for having a wobbly table.  Didn’t hurt that the broken items were inexpensive and that the valuable collectors item which was on the next table had remained unscratched.

Now that I have a shop, I think of that wobbly table and try very hard to make sure that everything in the store is rock solid in it’s positioning.  I’m not exactly sure how this mall I’m in deals with breakage.  And I don’t want anyone to feel bad about breaking something, even by accident.

Much to my chagrin though, it turned out the other day that I was the bull in the china shop who needed watching.  And it was my shop!   I had laid out five or six delicate glasses on a shelf.  Rock solid.  Then I was moving a picture from one wall where it was mostly hidden to a much better location.  Right over those delicate glasses.  Between the hammer, the nail, the picture and something else providing distraction, I managed to bump the shelf.  In slow motion I could see the glasses wobbling.  Should I throw down the picture to catch the glass?  Could I catch it with my hip?  Before any answers came to me, I heard the crack.  More of a thud really because one of the glasses landed on the floor.  The carpeted section.  A nice, thick Persian rug.  Then it rolled off the rug, hit the concrete and broke into a dozen pieces.

Bummer!  I paid fifty cents for that glass.  What a shame.  And like the sign says, we break it, we cry.

That’s part of my story.  What’s yours?

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Christmas Preparation

The holiday season attracts shoppers to antiques stores.  Same way that folks are prone to throng the department stores this time of year.  And as shopkeepers we make special efforts to entice these shoppers.  We decorate the store, and load up on seasonal merchandise.

All summer I was looking for and buying things to sell for the holidays.  Angels, Santa, Christmas trees.  All the regular holiday themed stuff.  But all antiques.  Amazing what you can find in July.  And the bargain prices!

It isn’t even Halloween yet, but it’s time to get the Christmas stuff out into the store.  That always bothered me before I opened this shop.  Now I understand that practice a lot better.  Gotta sell it.

Not this weekend, or the next, but the one after, November 16th, the antique mall I’m in is having a holiday open house.  It’s gonna be big!  So, I’m putting the Christmas stuff in the store.  I have a few different things, but mainly its window candles from the 60’s or 70’s.  And a spectacular blow mold candle!  Remember, I buy what I like so what I have may not be to your liking.  But it is really cool, believe me.  Here is a pic.


Makes for a festive entrance, right?  So, come to the shop and look around.  There is sure to be something that catches your fancy!

That’s part of my story.  What’s yours?

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Hobo.  That word is normally a noun.  A person who has no place to live and no money and who travels to many different places.  That’s straight from Webster’s.  Not necessarily a good connotation although I usually think of a kind older man, warmly kind, who’s down on his luck.  Emmett Kelly.

The man introduced himself.  “They call me Hobo, “ he said.  No further explanation.  I’d seen him inside the store.  Well dressed.  Nice van.  Turns out it was well travelled, but freshly painted.

He was no bum.  Nor vagabond.  He stopped to talk because I was carrying what looked like a giant bullet.  It was actually a five-inch shell from a Naval gun.  Not loaded!  He said it looked interesting and I told him what it was and he began to talk about antiques.  We were outside the antique mall after all, and he was also a vendor. 

He told me he used to sell big items but had gone to mainly gold and silver jewelry now.  Much easier to carry than a chest of drawers, or big bullet.  I found out that he was in his 60’s and had been in the antique business a long time.  He had space in four different antique malls now.  And he would move his items form one to another.  Or buy things at one and put it in a different one.

The whole history of the antique market in this town came up and he told me the order in which the stores appeared.  And who was where selling what.  He seemed to have a bundle of information on prices.

I guess the bullet intrigued him enough that he wanted to see my booth.  I showed him what I called my “hobo suitcase,” a hard sided beat up old thing with rope for a handle.  Been around.  He said I couldn’t call it that because that was his name.  There were several other things there that he said he liked.  Enough to buy?  Maybe in a day or two, if its still there.  I felt good that someone liked my stuff.  And he gave credence to my pricing.

The thing about collecting stuff is that you get to find out about not just the stuff, but also the people who made it.  Or owned it.  Or collect and sell it.  People like Hobo.  I know I’ll see him again.  And I’ll find out more about well, about whatever!

That’s part of my story.  What’s yours?

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The Life of Things

A smart person suggested to me that I write some blog posts about the items I have for sale in my antique store- Living History Antiques, located in the Hodge Podge Antiques and Interiors Mall in Monroe, Ga.  I’m going to take this advice with a minor twist.  I will not  just describe these great items from the past and try to capture the life thy have lead.  I’m going to go anthropomorphic and let each of these treasures speak for themselves.  So what you’ll be reading is the autobiography of a variety of wonderful antiques, capturing their impression of their value as well as their personal history.  Follow along to see what comes up!

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