Kids buy them, grownups buy them -- and I've made countless necklaces, bracelets and earrings with them and sold those, too -- but after all this time no one has ever come back to show me what they've done with their beads. That is, until this past Saturday.
Lianne Johnson (aka Vintage Lady) sells vintage & estate jewellery across the market from me and so I was kind of taken aback when she started buying these very modern and very-different-from-her-normal-stuff skulls. She said she was making things to sell at a biker camping weekend up north. She showed up this past Saturday with a couple of unsold creations utilising my skulls -- and a broken ankle. Something about building a fire, flipflops, wet grass... great way to ruin a great weekend, eh?
Anyway, these are what she made for and sold to her biker clientele: small dioramas featuring classic motorcycle models surrounded by foliage, tree bark, semi-precious stones, 40-million-year-old fossil shark teeth mounted on vintage lamp bases or stone coasters and, you'll note, coordinating skull and bike colours.
Lianne sells her vintage jewellery 7-12 pretty much every Saturday at the Woodstock Farmer's Market. Note that only the produce vendors will be elsewhere in the fairgrounds during the Fall Fair (August 21-24th). Interested in a commission or acquiring one of these cool dioramas? Email Lianne directly.
On other fronts, Nancy Mac and I have been busy stocking up Booth 800/801/847 at the One of a Kind Antique Mall. This is what the booth looked like at the beginning of July when we first moved into it...
...but because of the amazing turnover we've experienced over the past six weeks there's been an equally great amount of buying and restocking done, and now the booth looks like this:
Are you an aficionado of antique malls and big outdoor flea markets? Do you ever wonder where on earth all this stuff comes from and what's involved? Can one make any money at this? The truth? Uh, not really -- unless and until you really know your stuff, have been doing it for a long, long time, have a discerning eye, and through that build a reputation... It goes on and on. Pure luck plays a huge part -- which anyone can see from the myriad TV shows around the collecting, buying and selling of antiques and collectibles. There's also location. To make sales, you have to have bodies. The Antique Mall we're in just happens, at 80,000+ square feet, to be the biggest in Canada, and it's a destination. Buyers come from all over, including the States.
The reality is, after accounting for booth rent, commission fees and the upfront outlay of cash to buy items and pay for gas, not to mention the untold hours and hours of time it takes to run around buying stuff, it's not like we're raking in the big bucks. The brutal reality is you've got to sell a lot of little items every single month to make the booth rent and you have to constantly monitor the booth for general tidiness, restocking shelves regularly and changing the layout to make it look fresh to attract the repeat customers. Weather plays a huge part in traffic to the Antique Mall. Some months are just plain slooooow. But so far, we're still having fun putting in the time to make this work.
That's the whole point: that it IS a ton of fun, and it's educational because we have to look up most items to price them and/or learn about the history of the items, the factories, manufacturers and publishers, not just to find out what on earth this head-scratchingly bizarro gadget was for, but little things like why this particular item made in this particular year, for example, is far and away more valuable than its look-alike cousin despite being from the same manufacturer. Sometimes, it's the condition of -- or the very existence of -- the original box that confers the value. Talking to experts and looking at all the other similar images online is invaluable, developing all our senses in order to recognise the some day Big Score... There's matching wits, to somehow intuit what some unknown customer might be looking for and buy it, and, serendipitously here they come, strolling down the aisle and into our booth, and there IT is, what they've been looking for forever.
And... it's really good exercise. Getting up at 5 or 6 to meet up, grab coffee, possibly driving to another town to an estate sale as the sun comes up or the rain/snow/sleet comes down to get to a house to sit or stand on a bitter cold, damp front step for an hour to be first in line or at least in the first group let into the house, hiking up and down stairs carrying boxes and bags, plus meeting up with vendor pals from the Antique Mall and even swapping stuff outside before we drive away... yep, that rain/snow/sleet is a whole lot of fun.
After a couple of hours, the rushes of discovery over and blood sugar in freefall, our day is still nowhere near done. But -- there's the siren call of the ritual diner breakfast after the sale to heed before we go home to clean, research and price our stuff and hike it all down to our booth (AKA the more worky part of our fun).
After some experimentation and, yes, disappointment -- it still mystifies me to no end how anyone can ruin breakfast -- Nancy Mac and I have settled on the Chuckwagon at the west end of Woodstock where the road forks to go to Ingersoll as the best local place to go. Tons of parking, good plain food in a bright sunlit room and not outrageously priced at all, and -- increasingly rare these days -- really good bottomless coffee that never stops coming. Two big breakfasts come in at about $15. Sunday my breakfast was literally so pretty I took a picture and it's now my desktop wallpaper.
Thanks for drooling... I mean, looking!