It’s my pleasure and joy to join Apron Thrift Girl from Fab Fort Lauderdale. Call me the East Coast girl, the Little Sage, or just Kara... I’ll be bringing you sassy finds, secret vintage treasure spots, commentary from the vibrant South Florida thrift, art, and culture scene, do it yourself living-with-art projects and a full mashup of voluntary simplicity and grass roots kitsch.
Today, a true story offered to you by this little muse - this time from Selena’s own backyard, the gorgeous Golden Gate city, San Francisco. There are many similarities between an Antiquarian Book Fair and a lovely Antique Fair or Flea, here I give an insiders peek... join me, won’t you?
San Francisco Love Story
I turned the key and felt her start up. Last of the boxes and bags tucked in, green light, action, we are doing this - yes, we are ready to roll. Miles of white highway lines to cover but they fly by and I pinch, pinch again that in a matter of hours the stage will be set and the audience set in motion. The first audience, to me at least, for my first show in bookworld.
I thought I knew what to expect from my ‘first’ fair. From a visitor’s perspective, I had a visual and sensory expectation set, which went something like: heavy lifting, eight-hours standing, casual browsers, heavy hitters, high rollers, soft selling, gentle banter, brain teasing questions, booth memory game, occasional water breaks, invoice writing, rinse, repeat.
All true. But I missed an important piece to the puzzle: it’s a love story.
Some time ago, some century or decade past, our story begins with a font’s impression, a pen’s flourish. The object of affection: bound, free or gathered, emerges and makes it’s way through the hands, of time and man, until we are here at this moment. Now the dispensary of art, beauty, word or intent awaits discovery and thus the courtship begins.
The keeper of these, bookseller and custodian now must take a trip through his vault of treasures and begin the process of choosing the books, broadsides and manuscripts to display like a peacocks tail. When you’re new and overthinking everything, it’s challenging. Free them, I tell myself, release the spines, boards and covers and find the magic .At the end of the day a portable, miniature vignette of wares must be decided on and boxed.
Time to decorate for company. There’s the space: blank and bare, save the gorgeous bones of wood, rafters and lights.Counting down to their arrival, books are gently upwrapped, paired with easels and shelves as they find their way into context and storyline. The lures: visual, sensory and tactile - the cadence and tone of the siren’s song.
The bacchanalian stage is readied, the curtains rise: seekers descend and set forth, clutching map and method, on a quest for their object of longing. Hopes high for literary intervention and sated appetites.
Some liltingly run their eyes across the general culture of the shop, moving quickly on. Some are captured by a shelf, a book teasingly propped open to an illustration that weakens. Some resist but some fall madly. I sent a personal friend (a first time fair visitor to wander about) and my counsel was this: Allow yourself to take in the macro, then slowly attune to the micro. A cacophony of spines and text slowly filters into meaning and recognition, look close and see.. a shelf, book, then really look. Start a conversation and listen - what is the book whispering to you? Asking of you? Stirring in you?
A young, dynamic, lovestruck couple strolled in on Sunday. At first their head was clear, they were making sober choices and then: the siren called. A lush, richly and naturally buffed leather Bible, in Gaelic, spoke to them, haunted them with font and form - love at first sight. Two huddles, discussions and a couple of gold coins later, and they rode off into the sunset together with their new tome. One morning, a seasoned, perhaps jaded lover of the book strode in, and again, and again. He visited perhaps three times - caressing and courting one particular San Francisco journal that he coveted. He was a collector of loves, had 60 of the same title in different manifestations, but was missing this particular binding color. Butterflies will be caught and pinned - the suitor would have his way, and he did.
A green eyed, mature beauty who had suffered love and loss in the flesh spent time with us one day. She had become a lover of Fine Press titles, a new fascination and friend to her, something to adore and cherish, somewhere to pour the love that once poured out. She sought much from the book but as well in the company kept. Here, the custodians and fellow lovers are all in communion - she found solace in this love story.
Thus, with naive eyes I witnessed, in the course two rich, influential days, the stories not of the written page -but of those inked upon the human heart. As we roll up our tents and caravan, I sleep dreaming of the tales yet to be spoken and discovered. Such to be spun not by tradesmen, but by talismen, as we administer the rites for lovers and seekers.
I'm just so relieved that I took last summer off to spend time with the children. This fall has been such a whirlwind and completely opposite from our relaxing days in the sun. Sales every day, a record breaking month on eBay and there is very little time for anything else. My social life and blog both are victims to the craziness of the ReSelling Retail season. Yet a part of me is having so much fun. The sound of the eBay app cash register sound makes me smile every time.
This last week I have been juggling my parents being here, listing, selling, another eBay listing sale and preparing to sell vintage items as the Waldorf Winter Faire tonight and tomorrow. Am I ready for the Faire? Not so much but today after I go to a couple estate sales, I'm going to race home and hopefully finish pricing everything. I'm going to be selling vintage Christmas, fabric, ephemera, Waldorf books, vintage children's books and more. Please stop by and say hello.
I'm still not up to having 200 items in my eBay store which was my original ReSellers Listing Challenge Goal. I made it to 170 yesterday but items keep selling. I can't think of a nicer problem than that eh?
How are your sales? Is the season crazy for you too? How it Etsy? I'd love to hear about your ReSelling Adventures.
I spent most of yesterday working on pricing my vintage wares for the Winter Faire. I'm going to be selling vintage ornaments, vintage fabric, vintage sewing supplies, ATG art work, vintage cards and more.
Here's a video on how my pricing went yesterday.
I'm still learning my way around making videos so bare with me while I experiment. There are still a few errors and I've realized seeing the video that close-ups are pretty much useless until I invest in a better camera.
I'm hoping to add more tutorial content during the next year. If there is something that you would like to see in a video please let me know in the comments.
The cards will be sold individually in a card rack that I picked up for $3 at a rummage sale. A dream of mine is to own an office supply store filled completely with vintage cards, paper, tools, pens and pencils.
If you are in Sonoma County this weekend, stop by and say hello. I'll be at the school from 5:30 p.m. - 8 p.m. for an adult & teenager shopping evening. I'll also be there on Saturday from 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. Saturday is going to be very busy so if you want to avoid the crowds, Friday would be the best day to shop.
Sarah from Sarah's Silks will also be there and last year she had a basket full of discounted "seconds." I was so excited to meet her having been a fan of hers since my daughter was a toddler. Here is a full list of vendors. See you there.
I didn't have any plans on Sunday when I received an invitation on Saturday from my friend Cathe Holden to go to the Alameda Flea Market with her (officially known as Alameda Point Antiques Faire). She was leaving at 5:30 am and was planning to return home at noon. Was I game? Absolutely I said to her. I went to the Flea Market a few years ago when I was heavily into Shabby Chic. I found so many fabulous deals and began my Franciscan Desert Rose collection by going to this Flea Market. I haven't gone since I moved because I never felt that I had the funds to make the trip.
We left at 5:30, stopped for coffee in Petaluma and arrived at the Faire around 7am.
How sweet are they dressed?
Every row of the Faire had at least one booth full of vintage clothing.
I want that bicycle behind the blue chair and little table. Badly.
My favorite booth of the entire Faire. Although my overall opinion of the Faire is "overpriced." I spent very little money and compared the Faire with going to a museum looking at things I couldn't buy.
It's bright, it's loud but I still wanted it. I've loved lions since my childhood best friend gave me a little stuffed lion as a child. Cerys still has this lion. I also loved the British flag in the lions mouth. But not for the $45 dollar price tag that came with it.
I had such a hard time leaving this booth. I saw so many Mid Century Modern style booths. And they were very pricey.
I spent very little money because I just can't get the price that I pay for items at garage sales and estate sales out of my head. I didn't see much that I had to have which made it easier. Cathe asked the price on a little set of metal drawers. The seller said $25. I have the same item at home that I paid $1 for. Is the price for the location? The cost of the booth or just the work of getting there? It would seem that cheaper prices would bring more sales?
I spent $3 on some vintage sequins.
Cathe and I spent the most time at a booth where the seller had bought a bunch of old watches and watch supplies at an estate sale. We both stood there looking through little boxes of full of vintage clock faces, watch parts, movements and little metal boxes. Cathe purchased a small collection and once I realized the price was very inexpensive I put together a box of items. He charged me $10 for this box.
I once sold a watch movement for hundreds of dollars so I'm always picking up watches just in case. The one on the far left is actually a Rolex. You could barely see the name through the grime. Is it worth anything? I'm not sure in this condition. It was fun to find it in the box though. Keiran spent about a half hour with me looking at each little watch and movement.
I was a different thrifter than when I last went to the Faire. I didn't do a lot of impulse buying and I knew what a high price was and what a realistic price was. I was quite pleased that I could walk away without a car full of items knowing that I could find many of those items that I longed for at local sales in Sonoma County during the next year or so. My patience for thrifting is growing every day which means I can overall make better thrift choices.
Thanks for all you sweet and wonderful comments about the Cotton Candy Machine. I wish that I could invite all of you over for the biggest cotton candy party in Sonoma County.
5:30 am came around far too quickly on Friday morning. Especially as I had my cart insert to finish. Somehow I completed it, finished packing, missed breakfast and made it on the 7:05 ferry to Seattle. The drive to Spokane was long but beautiful, especially over the mountains. I was able to sneak in a bit of thrifting in Ellensburg while the children and Dave were at the park. He had his Blackberry so he was able to do some email which meant I didn't feel so bad when I accidentally drove past a St. Vinnies which accidentally happened to be open. At least I text messaged him: "Can't find any snacks". His reply was "Try Albertsons" of which my reply was: "Will try there next, nothing at Vinnie's". His reply? "They dont sell food!". My reply "Guess I'll try Al's then". I was only 10 minutes late back to the park. The sad thing is that I only found one measly bowl for all my cheekiness. We drove on arriving in Spokane in the early afternoon.
We found our KOA cabin, settled in and popped out for dinner at Huckleberries. The following morning we arrived at the sale 30 minutes before it began. Now Fairfield is a small farm town and I have no idea how many people descended on it, but it was packed with chicks galore. There were city chicks, urban chicks, farm chicks, country chicks and every other kind of chick you can imagine. There were little girls in aprons, women in pink Styrofoam cowboy hats and tons of aprons everywhere. In fact I think I probably saw over one hundred aprons on Saturday. The day was perfect with a blue sky, bright sun and a light breeze.
The sale started at 10am but there were a lot of yard sales already open when we arrived. Dh dropped me off at one and went to park the van. The antique show was held in three different areas in the town, all within a couple blocks from each other. Actually the town is probably 5 blocks by 5 block wide so it wasn't too hard to get around. The show was held in a town hall type building complete with a stage that reminded me of the Vicar of Dibley hall, a park with individual canopies and a large event canopy that held probably 15 or so vendors. While I was very excited to be at the show I had a few issues with it. #1 there were too few vendors for the many hundreds of shabby chic crazy women in search of shabby chic stuff. #2 the prices were rather high. #3 was space. There just wasn't enough room. I walked into this tent above and was pushed to the other side slowly without being able to get into any of the side booths. Each booth was U shaped and even if you could get into one, you could only see one side of it. I don't do well in crowds and just left in search of some fresh air. This was the best part of the show. It took place in a park, had tons of space and reminded me more of a flea market. I even spotted a metal doll house I swear I had seen before. I asked the vendor if they purchased it in Poulsbo. She had and was shocked that I knew this. I was actually at the same yard sale as her when she purchased it. I think she bought it for around $25.00 and was selling it for $150.00. What a small thrift world we live in. This is all I have to show for my 2nd hand items at the sale. Can you believe that? You bloggers know that I tend to enjoy thrifting just a little bit. But coming home with just a handful of items? I was truly disappointed. The napkins are Vera. $8.00 for 4 of the orange & pink ones (I didn't know those colors went together so well) and the yellow & green were $4.50 for 3. The pink thing in the back is a squeegee. I've never seen a pink one and thought it would work well on the inside house windows. The middle apron is my favorite purchase. It was $4.00. The apron on the right is a children's apron with a hand embroidered butterfly. It was a $8.00. I also bought a vintage Ball jar full of old keys for Keiran. He played with them during the entire journey home. Forget toys, I'm buying keys for Christmas. I couldn't believe that I came so far for a jazzed up expensive antique sale. I saw women carting away these expensive metal baskets for $80.00 a pop. Do you know how much yard sale booty that could buy? One lady bought an antique chicken roost for $495.00. I'm afraid I was out of my comfortable, thrift budget league.
My head down and my wallet full of unspent bills I stumbled across one last booth set aside from the main event tent.
Here is Barbara Schriber's booth. I didn't even realize it was her booth at first as I was filling my arms with goodies. She is in jeans with a blue sweater tied around her waist. Her booth was amazing and I wished I could have teleported all of you paper loving, glitter crazed, vintage obsessed bloggers with me. You would have loved it. I was in paper heaven. The Calendar was $5.00 and retails for around $30.00. Everything in the booth was so affordable. I have drooled over Barbara's items at two of our local stores Grace and Company Paperie and Cake but have yet to buy any. I sort of went crazy especially as I hadn't bought much at the show. There were a lot of vintage items to buy too. Some of them were mistakes and priced as such. The Christmas card in the back is an "oops" and cost me $2.00. I couldn't tell that there was a mistake on it at all. Some of the items she had for sale were show samples. Remember I asked about buying vintage style Halloween items? Here's a good start to my collection.
I think this is my favorite item. I paid $10.00 for this but it will be a feature in my Halloween decorating. Barbara basically saved the entire show for me. Without these items I would have questioned my great stupid idea to drive my family 5 hours for some overpriced stuff that I could find thrifting locally. I went away satisfied that I saved money and had some cool stuff to boot. Part of the joy in thrifting is the treasure hunt while the other part is truly about saving money. I feel I was able to do both in the end. Will I come again to the Farm Chicks show? Possibly. Possibly not. I might just save my money though for the Alameda show next summer where I am hoping to meet up with some other bloggers that you might know.