I was out buying some groceries the other day and the guy bagging my food asked me how I was doing and was I staying well. We chatted for a bit and I admitted to getting depressed now and then and he replied, “Oh you can’t go there.” And then he shared his secret for warding off depression–eating a one-pound box of See’s Candy! Yikes!! Though he admitted, sheepishly, he probably shouldn’t have eaten the whole box.
And it got me thinking that many of us probably have adopted new coping mechanisms to help us through this season of coronavirus, political unrest and economic upheaval. Certainly alcohol and cannabis sales are up. But so is walking and jogging, at least in my neighborhood. And praying and meditating. But judging by my Etsy sales this year, some may be indulging in retail therapy too. For me being outside in nature lowers my blood pressure and stress and a sure mood booster has been thrifting and antiquing in person. Walking into a store full of possible treasures brings a smile to my face (though no one sees it under the mask)!
That’s why I was thrilled to read that my favorite boutique thrift store (just five miles up the road) reopened last Friday. A few days ago, after a stressful customer interaction, I decided it was time to treat myself to a visit there. This store always have great items (and super nice staff), but higher prices too. Still I enjoy going there and blissfully I had this whole store to myself for the first 15 minutes. It was wonderful to leisurely wander around and look at things.
I picked up this little carved elephant three times. I thought the carving was so beautiful. But it was one of those handicrafts that could be modern and made by the thousands for all I knew. In the end I left him behind with a bit of regret.
They had shelves of beautiful Asian goods, which alas, is not an area where I am knowledgeable. The small porcelain ginger jar on the lower shelf was $15 and the cast iron bookends on the top right were $40. Was there much money left in these? Were they worth the risk? I just didn’t know and this is not a store where I whip out my phone and do on-the-spot quickie research.
I liked these little “made in Holland” enamel on copper dishes, but the prices were too high for me. Though I would have bought them if the images had been more interesting or if they were signed by say, Edward Winter. His mid-century pieces are fabulous!
Here’s a cool Edward Winters piece.
I had a grand time going around the store and was tempted by many items, but in the end I was quite conservative in my choices and spending.
Here’s What I Bought
I immediately gravitated to a clothes rack with tablecloths. This crocheted one particularly caught my eye. (One of the volunteer staff helped me unfurl it for a closer look.) It was huge (112″ by 57″) and other than a few light stains was in lovely condition. It was the best of the bunch and I had her set it aside for me. (Which was a darn good thing as a few ladies came in and grabbed the other two!)
I’ve sold vintage crocheted items in the past and generally do well with them. I’ll list this tablecloth for $80 plus shipping.
This vintage bronze vase, likely Japanese, has a beautifully rendered iris and butterfly and a substantial weight. On my first pass through the store I looked at it but didn’t take it. My second pass through I knew this was one to buy.
I’ve been trying to hone in on its age. I found one that sold on Invaluable.com that puts it from 1920-1930 and sold for around $100. I found a similar one listed on eBay that puts it in the same time frame, but holy smokes, is priced at $399 or best offer!!
Here’s a slightly different one that sold earlier this year for $150.
Other than a few green corrosion spots (which can be polished away), my vase is in darn good condition. I’ll likely list it for $100-$125.
So I didn’t buy a lot, but I’m pleased with both pieces. They have age and quality and are the kind of things I want to sell. (I paid $43 total.)
Last year I bought a sugar bowl from this same boutique thrift store. It was older, unmarked and intriguingly hand painted. Alas when I got home I discovered a chip on the rim of the bowl and wondered it if would be worth trying to sell. I decided no and put it on my curio shelves. But recently I changed my mind and listed it.
Today it sold and I am delighted. Not that I made much money, but because it is a lovely, old thing that I’m hoping will be treasured for years to come.
I would love to hear how you are coping and what is helping you in this strange time.