In the picking world, basements can offer up a treasure trove of forgotten goodies. Sometimes a little worse for wear with mold or insect/rodent damage, but still worth a look. (I certainly was happy when I found this little handmade 1970s ceramic vase in a basement whilst on vacation.)
Sadly I rarely get to root around in them these days (they are not common where I live), which got me thinking about the lowly basement!
A Remembrance About…Basements
The basements from my childhood years in New York state were an integral part of my life. It’s odd how these below-ground spaces, some finished, some just concrete shells, featured so prominently. Perhaps it was the same for you.
In the basement of one of my childhood homes there was a far corner by the oil tank and the furnace where my dad retreated to a table at night to tie fishing flies. It was about as far as he could get from the hub-bub of his three young children above. In the wooden rafters above his head, he kept a secret stash of Sen-Sen candy. I loved these tiny licorice bits and sometimes coerced him to share them with me.
The freezer on the other side of this basement once claimed a bit of my tongue when I, in my 9-year-old wisdom, decided to taste the frost that lined a shelf in it. I became stuck like the boy in the “A Christmas Story.” Alas, no kindly teacher or firemen came to my rescue. I had to yank myself free. Lesson learned.
Brown linoleum covered the floor in the larger open area of the basement. It wasn’t a finished room. Just an open space. Still it was useful for parties and play during inclement weather. In this poorly developed party photo from the 1960s (that’s me in the back with my dad) you can see the stark conditions that include a bare lightbulb.
Future owners of the house slapped up walls down there and created a bedroom for their two teen daughters.
My next-door neighbor and childhood friend Karen Marie had one of the best basements with a proper finished family room that included real furniture, a bit of carpet, a TV and plenty of room to play. Additionally her basement had a cupboard under the stairs with shelves of canned goods and bags of old clothes destined for charity. More than once we holed up in this small Harry Potterish space to dress up in the clothes and play store.
My grandparents, who had an astonishingly old house, had the creepiest basement. As the eldest I was often sent down to get mini-pizzas and other delicacies out of the coffin-shaped freezer. Low-ceilinged and cobwebby, the freezer overlooked a dirt crawl space where who knows what lurked. One always expected to see a pair of glowing eyes in the dark. It was a heart-thumping test of courage to go down there.
On the other hand my aunt (daughter of said grandparents) and uncle had a clean, well-lit family room in their basement with paneling, a wood burning stove, a bar, a TV, plaid furniture and for a time, a fine collection of rifles on a wall. This 1970s photo of my dad with his siblings gives you a peek at their lux Early Americana-styled room.
It was often pressed into service on holidays, birthdays and other special occasions. I was last in this basement room ten years ago just after my aunt died. (My uncle had been gone for several years by then.) My brothers and I hung out down there one night reminiscing and wondering what to do with her 1000+ collection of romance novels that now filled a portion of this room.
But in all my homes in California, we’ve had no basement, or attic for that matter. My daughters have grown up without knowing the joys and frights of these spaces. But I’m sure one day they will share the joys and frights they had growing up in our modest one-story house. Though honestly I think any frights will be total fabrication!! I mean what could be spooky about our house…right, right??!
Now that it’s Q4, I’ve had high hopes for strong October sales in my Etsy store and, while it hasn’t been off the charts, it hasn’t been terrible either. Especially considering I’ve been both sick and jet lagged this month and haven’t been able to add as many new things to my store as I’ve wanted. Here are a few of the things which sold…
Charms are doing particularly well which is encouraging as they are a passion of mine and I enjoy selling them. I’ve also sold a set of new-in-packaging Pottery Barn Darth Vader sheets on eBay (I mean, who doesn’t need Darth Vader sheets?) and a few things locally. So, all in all, not a bad month.
Out of necessity I am trying to focus more on buying and selling smaller items–essentially items that are easy to store and ship. I want to downsize my inventory so that it is not as invasive in our house and not as time-consuming to deal with!
I’m also researching vintage/antique trends and what has the potential for selling more quickly. In this biz it’s a moving target, but I still keep an eye out for:
- mid-century modern stuff
- Scandinavian items
- hand-made quilts
- almost anything sterling silver
- quirky, handmade things
- old cast iron bits
- quality jewelry, both costume and fine
- chinoiserie fabric
Hope your October has been grand. Would love to hear if you have any basement memories!
As always, happy hunting,