Vintage Hunting in the Time of Covid

I think we can all admit that life has been strange in this season of coronavirus. Much of normal life ground to a halt and was shutdown this spring. But now in June, places are starting to reopen, some restrictions are lifting. And while I am darn happy about that, I am also aware that Covid19 is still out there. Active. Spreading. (Our stats here in California are not great.) So I am being circumspect in how I go about sourcing for vintage things for my online stores.

For example I spotted an ad for a nearby estate sale. They are allowing 20 people in the house at a time. Here’s some of the fine print: “ALL CUSTOMERS AND EMPLOYEES MUST PRACTICE SAFE SOCIAL DISTANCING. EVERYONE WHO ENTERS THE HOME MUST WEAR A MASK AND REMAIN 6 FT. A PART THROUGHOUT THE HOUSE AND BASEMENT. HAND SANITIZER WILL BE PROVIDED BEFORE ENTERING.” Even though the house is large, I have a feeling that it’s going to be tough to keep shoppers six feet apart. If you have a table, say of vintage Christmas ornaments, and one person is there looking through them, you can bet others are not going to wait patiently till that person moves on. People can be quite aggressive at estate sales and I don’t think that’s going to change significantly. I may take a pass on this sale.

Hmmm…how would social distancing work in here?

I also plan on visiting the antique mall about 10 miles up the road which generally has low foot traffic. While I have bought a few things at this mall, I’ve never found items that I could resell for much profit. Vendors here have good stuff and know they have good stuff! Still I love going and looking.

Alas there haven’t been any yard sales and the local flea markets have all ceased operation with no plans to reopen. (I know some flea markets are in full swing back East where Covid19 numbers have been trending down.) I have looked a little on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace for local items, but everything that’s caught my eye is priced too high.

Thankfully my neighborhood thrift store has now reopened (limited hours) and has fairly modest traffic when they first unlock in the morning. I am totally comfortable heading in and if someone lingers too close to me, I just move away a bit. I’ll likely start going there three times a week to search for vintage goodies. A few days ago I was happy to buy two vintage Christian Wagner (West Germany) copper jelly/cake molds–not something I normally gravitate to, but I know there is a market for these. Wouldn’t these look great in a French country kitchen?

I’m also still going through thrift store finds from years ago that I have enjoyed using but am now willing to let go. Like these two crystal whiskey glasses.

They were so nice but I could never find a maker’s mark on the bottom. The other day I was using one and saw something amazing–in the reflection of the wine I could see an acid mark!

After some research I discovered these are English Webb Corbett tumblers in the “Prince Regent” pattern. (Thank you!) I have them listed now for $40.

I also decided it was time to list the six Tyrone Crystal balloon wine glasses I bought three years ago. Tyrone is an Irish company that sadly went out of business in 2010. These glasses, in the Antrim pattern, are bold and beautiful, but at over one pound each are heavier than I like to personally use.

And unexpectedly my 89-year-old father has started sourcing for me in New York state. I didn’t ask him to but he has taken to sending me items he finds that he thinks I might like to sell. And frankly, I’m thrilled with what he’s sent. He has a good eye!

He sent this antique wabi-sabi pair of metal Lamay Paris opera glasses.

And this fantastic older small beaded purse arrived a few days ago. The metal frame has some wear and the silk lining is in taters, but there are no missing beads. Isn’t she pretty?

I’m also still buying a few things online from other sellers. I recently paid up for this boxed set of unused Gorham sterling silver decanter labels. Likely circa 1940-1970. I’ve listed this scarce new-in-box set of four for $225.

So despite not having a plethora of in-person sourcing options (at present!) I still have plenty of items to add to my online stores. And the typical summer sales slowdown hasn’t hit yet and I am doing better than my usual June…which does surprise me given all that’s going on here in the U.S. (Praying for safety for everyone and life-affirming change!)

Would love to hear where you’re finding good stuff these days.

Happy hunting,


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