There’s Just Something About The Way They Look

People ask me all the time how I choose what to buy for my store. There are always

certain pieces that sell well for me: cupboards, tables, daybeds and interesting

accessories. But why this old wooden industrial drum?

It certainly wasn’t an easy piece to load and as more things were added to the trailer,
the decisions about how to get it all on became more serious.  The long trip home was
accomplished at a slow crawl, with constant stops to correct load shift and tighten straps.
Fortunately, this sweet, fat hitchhiker was spotted before we hit the road. I would
not have minded at all, though, if he ended up at my house.
And, why all the old car fronts?
Below, the  1930s Dodge Rum Runner…as evidenced by its bullet holes…is an all-time favorite of mine…
And the old, fabulously-patinaed truck doors…
A 70s Volkswagen Bug trunk with a nicely color-coordinated license plate…
What about this one with its cool Cuban license plate?
A refrigerated rail road door…
Why this table, with its divine storm of colors?
Or this one, in shocking orange?
And speaking of color…
Below, the long, bleached out tavern table (wonderfully lacking in color and a perfect match for the
practice balls in the box beneath it) was something I wished I had room for at home…
So, why do I buy these things?
There is something about the way they look that makes my heart sing. I know that this is my intuition
speaking, reminding me that if I love it, so will someone else. Happily, my intuition has never steered
me wrong.
Most items pictured above are/were in  The Hudson Mercantile.

‘Cause Doesn’t Everybody Need A Price Tag Room?

I think that deep down, no matter how lackadaisical we might be, we all
really crave organization. It just feels better when everything is in its place,
when the scissors are in the drawer where we need them, when the car keys
are there when we’re ready to roll.
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Even more, many of us want special places for doing the things that give us
pleasure: a place to wrap presents or to paint. And, in truth, we are so
affected by our surroundings, that we  experience a better time in spaces that look
nice than we do in chaos. Who wants to do laundry squeezed into the corner of a
damp basement when an attractive, sunny place would be so much more appealing?
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Trends come and go but the most interesting and, to me, astounding one a few
years ago was the advent of Costco Rooms. These large, expensive additions were
purely for stockpiling purchases made at the discount store, Costco. I still find it hard
to believe that the savings gained by the bulk purchase of discounted paper towels
would ever off set the price of the room itself.
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However, my own recent brainstorm for using a small barely-seen room in
my house has made me see that maybe I was too quick to scoff at the Costco Room.
For I am now the happy owner of a Price Tag Room…..
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Tucked in a cranny, under beams in the 1790 part of our farmhouse, the space has
been an unused bedroom, an unused sitting room and an unused writing room in our
time. One day while I was dragging my price tag bag around the house, trying to
decide where I should set myself up, I got the idea that this nice little room was the
perfect place to be. All I had to do was find a perfect table in the barn and I’d be ready
to go. Everything else was already there: an old wicker waste basket, decorated with
papier mache swags and fruit, paintings and other decor that I love.
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Store display cow heads, organ pipes with the most amazing patina. Beams!
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A commodious and oh-so-comfortable English wing chair…
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The walls were painted a few years ago to look like a forest by my friend, artist Jennifer
Lanne.  They are covered wall-to-wall with my favorite paintings of farm animals…
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Below, a study from Sweden…
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And this sweet-looking trio…
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But, what is going on here? Where are these barnyard friends going by the light of the

moon? Are they off to a seaside vacation? A night on the town? They say every picture

tells a story but this one, delightfully, leaves me with many questions left unanswered.

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Below, a farm wife in a blue apron pours fresh cool water for her pretty girls. I
place myself in her wooden shoes and feel the joy of her spectacular surroundings.
I know it is work! But just look at the expression on her face! She is providing something
nice for those who provide for her. While wearing cool clothing! All that beauty just
has to make her day brighter.
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Below, all is primitive and perfect, from the ladder leaning on a thatched roof to the
chickens enjoying breakfast in the sun.  Someday, when I become a painter, I want
to be just like this artist who (imagining two suns or just not planning ahead), cast
shadows from the trees and from the ladder from two different angles.
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Cows in art are always wandering down country lanes.
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Wandering down lanes. Drinking cool water. Eating fresh green grass.
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In beautiful places.
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Places we would like to be ourselves.
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It all seems so wholesome, so simple, so easy.
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So peaceful.
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Is it any wonder that century after century artists want to paint these scenes and
we want to own them? They make us feel so good.
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What else makes me feel good? Sitting at my desk, looking at this fabulous
6 foot x 6 foot painting (below), another by Jennifer Lanne. I asked her to paint me
something with a bookcase and a chair. She knows me well so there’s no need
to say more. There are two paintings within this painting: one of sheep
on the middle shelf on the left side of the bookcase and the other a painted
pillow on the chair (the pillow’s scene is hard to see in this photo).
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And, of course, the reason for the room:  the price tags!
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I guess it begs the question, why a Price Tag Room?
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It all goes back to the price tags themselves. I have been in the antiques business
for many years and have always wanted my tags to be as unusual and interesting
as the pieces they represent.
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Just like the desire to have my surroundings be appealing, I want the work
I do to please me, to please my eye, to be fun for me and, hopefully, be fun
for the customers in the Hudson Supermarket where I have my public show
room. Writing price tags isn’t a chore for me. It is part of what makes me love
what I do. Having a perfect place to do this enhances the experience in ways I
didn’t expect when I decided to give myself this room.
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In the early years, I made price tags from photos and other printed paper
of heavy stock. There were old tattered hand-made linen maps, restaurant
receipts and anything else that caught my eye.
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When I started selling industrial furnishings, some of the private pickers with whom I had
developed relationships had items, such as the metal machine labels (pictured above),
which I couldn’t resist. I asked for more and now have such a huge collection that, even
if I never purchased another tag, I would be set for life! While a Sharpie does work on the
metal tags, a paper sticker on the back side does an even better job and looks nicer.
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The one above is my all-time favorite. I use it for pricing my most favorite pieces. It has
everything going for it… Money! Trouble! An old car! I just know the waving driver of
this 1940s dream car is having fun, maybe even looking for trouble. The speed lines
behind the car seem to prove me right. I don’t mind at all that I have to reinforce the
string hole. And speaking of string…
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The string is important, too! I use everything from heavy electrical wire to fat cotton fishing
line. The brown waxed twine is from France, the brown with pink at the bottom of the photo
has copper wire inside its cloth webbing. I match the string to the mood of the piece of furniture
and the tag. This is all very time consuming but so much more satisfying, for me, than
writing on the same old, same old, same old little white Office Max tag with its wimpy white
string.
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Storage is a key component of my happy life! Interesting containers make all the difference.
Which brings me right back to that Costco Room which, suddenly, doesn’t seem so weird,
after all!

Amusing Myself With Patina

Last week, while Ken and Ned tore apart my space in the Hudson Supermarket

(www.hudsonsupermarket.com), I, who am so easily bored, wished for something

interesting to do while I waited for my turn :  to put it all back together again. 

I looked around, sighing, till I spied patina.  I love patina.  Endlessly fascinating,

patina, with its layers, textures and colors,  never lets me down. Here are some of the

patina-rich objects which were moving this way and that in my booth….

  

Above, a rusting farm thing, posing as a sunflower and an appealing tear in a canvas-

covered trunk. I guess this kind of beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And since, in this

instance, I am the beholder and I am alone, no one can dispute my claim.

  

Layers of paint on a diminutive (6″ x 6″) radiator cover and more farm things. Sometimes

I wonder what I would sell if it weren’t for farms and factories.

     

Above, left, is my favorite thing from July Brimfield, a zinc cupboard (no, not a fridge!)

from a defunct silver manufacturing company in Pittsburgh. The photo (below, left) is a

close up of the round industrial table in the photo (above, right). Hard-packed sludge…

ya gotta love it. (I am alone, no one can dispute me!)

       

I have a passion for these roof drain caps (above, right).  The shape, the color, the wire. 

Apparently, not everyone shares my enjoyment, as these sturdy little  gems were usually

tossed in the garbage, making them difficult to find. My pickers in Pennsylvania, who have 

the most discerning taste, had this nice bunch of 15 in their barn. 

Linen-covered French books (above) all in a row. Pretty toppers for a rustic work table.

I used them in my last blog to display my Vichy baskets. Today, when I was taking more

Vichy photos, I wished the books had been safe at home, instead of  in Hudson where they

were at risk of being sold!  I know that I have to let people buy my stuff. But, I don’t have

to like it.

      

Big cabana pins and a vane with peeling layers of old paint. I have hundreds of pins in both

Hudson and Bournebrook.  The staff in both centers say that all day long  they hear the

swoosh, swoosh, swoosh of the pins being pushed back and forth as customers look for the

one with a favorite number. Grain sacks, of course, are central to any discussion (of mine!)

about patina with their many weaves and beautiful old repairs.

Time spent admiring patina is never wasted.

What’s It Worth?

Our friend-customers came the other day. It is always great when they are here because we share so much more than just the buying-selling thing.  As we waved them out of the driveway, I felt that tug on my heartstrings, the one that sneaks up on you when someone special is leaving and you won’t be seeing them again for a while. I decided not to chase them down the road to ask for just a few more hours of their company since they had a trip of more than a day ahead of them. Instead, I sat down to think about how much my business is worth.

While I won’t pretend that the money isn’t of interest, I am thinking more about the value received from doing what we love, the intriguing layers of experiences, the things we see and learn and the variety of people we might never otherwise have known.  This is what makes us rich.