Sunday, February 13, 2011

A thrifty day

About a year or so ago I found out about this neat shop that specializes in selling vintage/retro-y type stuff that's located about an hour away. On Friday, after talking with my coworker and his interest in acquiring an old telephone and my knowledge of a shop in an antique mall that sold refurbished phones, I decided I would make Saturday all about living vintage.

I started my trip early in the day, getting on the road before considering giving the shop located an hour away a call to see if they were indeed open as the website indicated. It was a good thing that I did call ahead because the recording that answered the phone informed me of their hours and they were not open yesterday. Feeling slightly disappointed and not wanting to derail my day's plans completely, I settled on visiting some of the antique and thrift stores in a nearby town.

The first stop was the Court of Antique Shoppes, outside of town. I have only visited this string of shops, which are located in an old motel with the all the room walls knocked down, a few times in the past -- usually because I forget it's out there. But on those few occasions I managed to come out with something awesome, like a 1950's prom dress I purchased as a junior in high school, or a metal "Pigs in Space" lunchbox my sophomore year in college. Unfortunately, I think the internet and places like ebay have made these types of shops harder to find and raised the price of items to ridiculous heights. Apparently now anything old is a collectible. There was an oil painting of a girl and her dog, but even with its sale price of $275 I chose to leave empty handed.

For my next stop I went into the downtown area. There used to be this outdoor, wooden, Swiss Family Robinson treehouse looking shopping area that was so cool when it opened in the 1980's, but now it's pretty much offices with a restaurant and a deli on the first floor. There are parking signs that line the lot that clearly say that the lot is for that shopping center only, however, in the past four years I have parked there numerous times without incident so I parked my car in the mostly empty lot and started walking toward the Black Shutter Antique Center.

This building, which once was part of a store as well as a very wealthy family's home, is a series of rooms on three different floors complete with twisty stairways and full of old stuff. This was my third trip to this center, but I'd yet to purchase anything because their prices are usually high. I saw a rhinestone poodle broach I was interested in, but not for $45. On the third floor in the last room that is devoted all to vintage clothes, I was about to give up (so many ugly 80's prom dresses priced in $60's?!?) when I found an adorable little box purse -- the type I've been searching for. At $30 it was a little more than I wanted to spend, but a teen girl who had been trailing me was obviously waiting for me to put it down, so I ended up getting it. Score!

Next I walked down the street toward another antique shop that I'd also discovered in high school. I had rarely found anything there to buy, but it was inside an old lunchtime diner and they had a shop kitty, so it was at least cool to dig around in there for awhile. I waited at the crosswalk and turned around to see another antique shop (yeah, it's like the antique district) that I'd passed many times before but never went inside since usually it had in the windows boring old furniture or things like candlesticks or those giant metal stars people hang on the outside of their barns in the country. I crossed the street and rounded the corner to be disappointed -- the little antique shop with the kitty was no more! I put my face against the window and peeked inside at the complete emptiness that remained, mourning the shop's disappearance.

Not yet ready to head home and call it quits, I skipped back across the street and decided to venture into the boring candlestick antique shop. For the most part it was boring, but in the basement I came across a paint by number desert painting that I considered buying, before wandering into a narrow hallway lined with clearance items. There was a clothing rack I quickly thumbed through, as most of it was sequined old lady gear, when I suddenly saw this dress. I pulled it out and examined it -- silk, dotted with black polka-dots and trimmed with this black ribbon. It was too cute and as I checked, and double checked the price tag, it was marked down to $9!

I wanted it, but I wasn't 100% sure it would fit me, so I looked around for a dressing area and when I couldn't locate one I went back upstairs and approached one of the ladies at the register. The first lady was opposed to letting me try it on. "Isn't there a bathroom I could slip into for a moment?" I asked.
"Nope," she answered, and then I started to imagine these old ladies holding going to the bathroom all day, or being forced to pee in tupperware containers. The other lady at the counter was nicer, "There's a storage area downstairs, you can try it on in there if you don't mind it being full of old stuff."
"I love old stuff," I proclaimed and followed her back downstairs, past the area I thought was the storage room, and into another long hallway with a door at one end and a conveyor belt covered in cobwebs running from the floor to the ceiling.

It smelled musty and the dangling naked bulb cast eerie shadows on the walls. I quickly stripped and was stepping into the dress when I lost my balance and tipped around to come face to face with a large taxidermy fox I had somehow missed upon entering. I nearly let out a little yelp, but managed to swallow it, hopping farther away. I then raced through dressing, eyeing the creepy fox the whole time. I knew I had passed a mirror going in, so I stepped out to find it, running into the nice lady on the way who said it fit me so well that I had to buy it (good selling strategy!) and after taking a look in the mirror I agreed. Plus it was only $9! Back in the storage area, I did a record clothes change before tipping my imaginary hat to the fox on my way out.
So I was pretty happy walking down the street back to the parking lot where I'd left my car, when I could see in the distance a yellow something on my car window. It was a parking violation notice! I looked around for someone official, or even someone watching me, but I was alone. There was no fine on it, so I assumed it was not a ticket, but there was a box checked off for "recommended towing" so I'm glad I got there when I did. I won't make the mistake of parking there again in the future, but those jerks glued the notice to my window so part of me wants to do it out of spite.

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