28 June 2012

It's A Great Start - Can't Ask for More Than That

We’ve now completed our first week with the new stock in the shop, and it’s been a great success.  Hurrah!  It’s always a relief when a new shipment is greeted positively, no matter how many times we do this.  This time I bought sufficient really interesting ‘feature’ items that I can replace each one with something else as I sell them.  It’s just going a little faster than I thought it would, so hopefully I don’t run out of these items.

So far I’ve sold a big vintage typewriter that I planned to make into a window feature (but didn’t have a chance to), the Victorian bird cage lasted less than 24 hours in the window, one of the big, deep red Coke buckets sold from the back of the van before it even made it into the shop let alone the window, and the most industrial looking of the shop scales and weights lasted 48 hours in the window – lucky I still have two sets of nicely semi-industrial looking commercial scales yet to offer.  Plus from elsewhere in the shop we’ve sold lots of Deco glass, French pictures, enamelware, jewellery, ceramics and cutlery.  So a good cross-section of things have gone, and that was only Week One of the new shipment.  There are lots of good things to come, so fingers crossed that this reception keeps up. 

All of my lovely Victorian ceramic jelly moulds have gone, plus the biggest pieces of my copper, so my plans for a nice Downton Abbey-esque window for Week Two have been a bit thwarted.  I've still got those nice scales, though, and more copper to come, and soon I will get out more of the stoneware, so we should still be able to put something nice together.  But in the meantime, while I’m still digging out more stoneware, I think I shall colour-block the window this week.  I have just put out a really fabulous metal ship’s wheel which has nice, distressed sky blue paint over it, and I have heaps of blue Art Deco glass.  So blue shall be the base block, supplemented with red glass and red French enamelware, and also lovely mottled grey French enamelware.  It sounds a bit drab, but in fact the mottled grey enamelware goes with any colour you want to put with it, so it always looks nice however you arrange it.  So anyway, that’s tomorrow morning’s job when the shop opens, and we’ll see how it looks. 

Once I get more of the stoneware out of the boxes I shall decorate the big Welsh dresser with it (before I make a window display of it) and that should look spiffy.  I have sold all of the nice blue enamel plates I had on the dresser that the strange woman from last week was so rude about, so ha! strange, rude woman.  They were much admired, and it took only a week for all of them to sell.  Fortunately, most people are happy to find beautiful things that are so affordable, and aren’t one bit rude about it.

We’ve done a bit of framing of French magazine covers and advertisements this week, because the pictures have been selling steadily so the wall needed supplementing.  I have the best ever black and white 1960s Perrier advertisements, which I’ve been tossing up whether to put on the website or in the shop, but I think I’ll compromise and do both.  The images that appear on the website we offer unframed as well as framed, for those who would rather pay less for postage and/or arrange their own frames.  So once something is framed it doesn’t feature on the website.  But these are really cool images so I think I’ll put them in the shop and offer them framed-only on the website.  We’ll see how that goes, and if goes well I’ll do it again with other pictures.
Thanks to the talented and very patient Julie from www.beingruby.blogspot.com I now have the ability to put pictures in my Blog.  How good is that?  Thank you Julie!  So you get a sneak peak of the Perrier advertisements I'm talking about.  They'll look better when they're framed with black matt, but you can get an idea of how they'll look.  Naturally, I shall regale you with photos as well as text from now on in my Blogs.  With lots of hand-holding even a total techno-numpty like me can get there in the end.

Meanwhile, we have taken to visiting the new bebe, Caleb, every Sunday after we close the shop.  What a little character he is already, at a month old.  He’s chasing balls and other toys, and is very happy to wrestle with your fingers.  And boy can he bite!  Itsy-bitsy kitten teeth are like needles, and this little fella knows how to use them.  All sorts of things are allowable when you’re a tiny baby that are entirely Not Allowed when you grow up and come to my house, so he should make the most of mauling me while he can.  He’s shaping up to being well able to give Calypso a run for her money when he joins us.

This is Caleb at four weeks old.  What a cutie!  He has very beautiful shoulders and lovely rosetting over his body.  And look at those black stripes on his face - they look like they've been drawn on with a texta and you just know that people are going to ask me if I drew them on, don't you?  I can't tell you how often I'm asked if I paint Calypso, because yes I have so little to do with my time and I'm so warped that I paint the cat every day.  In exactly the same pattern because I'm also an utter perfectionist.  Yes, that's an entirely accurate description of me.  Really.

21 June 2012

It’s Better To Be Busy – Isn’t It?

Not that choosing to be busy or not is an option for us at the moment.  We had Unpack Day on Tuesday, with the very fabulous Fran coming by early and working like a navvy all day to help us get boxes and boxes and boxes unpacked.  Boy it takes a lot of boxes to fill a shop with stock.  As usual, I ran out of my pre-prepared description and price tags, and then had to go home and work for a few hours into the evening to get some more prepared.

But we had a bit of fun discovering purchases made last March that I had forgotten about until now.  Some items I still haven’t remembered buying, but here they are and they didn’t magic themselves into our boxes so I must have been buying things and moving on pretty promptly that day.  I told a woman in the shop this week that I need to buy so much volume while on a buying trip that I shop til I fall down dead.  What, literally? she said.  Okay, not literally.  Unless she was fiendish clever and under her expert interrogation I accidentally revealed that I have the power of regeneration and so must be a Cylon.  Yes, that’s entirely possible.  I might have been exaggerating about how exhausted I am after lots of shopping, but that is so unlikely that it’s more possible that I’m a Cylon. 

I have Cylons on the brain at the moment because, having been reminded of the television show Battlestar Galactica (the 2004 series, not the daggy original) through a reference to Cylon Toast in The Big Bang Theory, I am now working my way through the entire Battlestar Galactica series.  This is causing a great deal of sighing from the usually very patient Doug, who’s not a fan, but I’m hugely enjoying it and I only have about 24 hours of viewing to go until it’s finished.  And yes, I know I watch too much television if I can understand and then act on a reference to Cylon Toast, but who cares? 

During Unpack Day various people popped in to have a quick squiz at our new things, and I ended up selling more when we were closed on Unpack Day than I did when we were open on Sunday.  Go figure.  Maybe the Shop-in-Total-Chaos-and-Mess-Everywhere look is a style I should cultivate more often.  Now my mission is to unpack, tag and get something (hopefully multiple somethings) into the shop every single day for the next few months.  Plus I have the added task of photographing new things for the website, so I shall have to become a little more organised than I’m used to or want to be, but it shouldn’t be too onerous.

So after Unpack Day on Tuesday we had The Big Reveal on Wednesday, and it went well.  Even though it was reasonably quiet in town, we still made better sales than usual on a Wednesday, so I can’t ask more than that.  The very first thing to sell was a lovely large ceramic jug, basin and chamber pot set that I was planning to photograph for the website because it was stunning, but too late for that now.  Also sold a fair bit of glass, enamelware, pictures and jewellery.  The stone ware attracted positive attention, so fingers crossed that it goes well. 

I’ve put gobsmackingly good prices on everything, if I say so myself, that can’t be beaten.  The exchange rate for the Australian dollar against the pound and euro was the best it had ever been during our buying trip in March, so I was able to buy very well and that is now reflected in my own prices.  I have some lovely wooden bread boards, for example, and in Sydney I have seen similar for $110.  Mine are $48.  I can’t do better than less than half price.  And that’s just one example – all of my glass is beautiful and exceptionally well priced, which might explain why I get through so much glass.  As for enamelware, I haven’t seen another shop in this country with such a good selection and at such affordable prices.  And my vintage copper frying pans and saucepans (over 100 years old) are cheaper than the light, tinny, new pieces sold in Department stores.

Anyway, so ends the bragging, but I guess my point is that I can’t do better than offer really good things at really good prices.  And yet a woman yesterday came and looked at my Victorian-era rolling pins, and as she was walking out the door she said over her shoulder I can get cheaper at K-Mart.  Another woman was in the shop at the time and we just looked at each other and burst out laughing.  What can you say?  I expect K-Mart does indeed sell cheaper rolling pins than the solid, beautiful Victorian-era ones that I sell.  But mine you will buy once in your life and they will then outlive you.  Nuff said.
And then another woman came in and looked at some really lovely deep sky blue enamel plates I have displayed on a 200 year old Welsh dresser, and she said Do you realise that you’ve given pride of place to things worth $8?  Well firstly I wasn’t in a trance when I displayed these plates and was actually well aware of what I was putting on the dresser, and secondly I don’t care how much things are worth when displaying them, only how lovely they look.  Things don’t have to be expensive to be beautiful, as evidence by the fact that I have $8 on them.  But what an odd thing for some stranger to say, don’t you think?

Here’s some good news – Doug is on his way back from Brisbane as I type, bringing with him the last of the shipment that has now been released by Quarantine.   We’ve got our work cut out for us for the next little while, but I’m very happy with our buying from this trip so it will be a pleasure to unpack and examine it all.  We have already selected a few things to keep for ourselves, mostly enamel kitchenware and some pictures, but there will be plenty to go around.

15 June 2012

We have a Website!

Okay it’s a seriously short instalment this week, but it’s action packed.  What a big week we’ve had.  Firstly, it’s been a long time coming but at last we have a Website.  As I’ve mentioned in earlier Blogs, we’ve decided to start off small but update it with new things every week – on Sundays or Mondays (haven’t decided yet) – so it will grow a lot over time.

So you can now visit us at www.chequeredpastantiquevintageretro.com   Let’s see how dipping our toes into the 21st century works out.  Please email me if you spot anything amiss on the Website, because you know I am not technically literate so I might not have gotten it exactly right yet.

The second big news is that we’ve bought a new bebe.  Yes, I know, we don’t need another cat.  But aw shucks, isn’t he cute?  Too cute to resist, in fact.  His name is Caleb and he’s 2.5 weeks old right now, so he won’t take his place as the Trainee Shop Manager for a while, but he should start duty in early August.  He’s Calypso’s half-brother, and on his father’s side he has a more wild heritage than she does, so goodness knows what we’re in for.  Actually I do know – Pandemonium at our place will step up into Utter Pandemonium.  But the Gang is such good fun and very social and affectionate pussycats, so we’re not complaining.  Much.   

I’m hoping that Caleb’s introduction will be as painless as Calypso’s was, but they’re all good natured so I don’t expect too many conniptions.  Except from Mischka, whose little grey nose will no doubt be well and truly out of joint.  When Calypso joined us Mischka didn’t purr for a week and every time she caught sight of me or Doug there was lots of yowling and growling and grumbling as we heard at length about how unhappy she was.  No matter how much reassurance or how many cuddles we gave her, she wasn’t having it.  But then she got over it, and now she and Calypso are terrific friends who snuggle up together and play chasey and wrestle-mania at every opportunity.  Calypso is now bigger than Mischka (even though Mischka is two years older) so Mischka has to undertake particularly clever ambushes in order to win their encounters.

And finally, in Breaking News, Customs and Quarantine has released a good deal of our new shipment after only a week!  This is prompt service is unprecedented, and because I was expecting their usual slackness I’m not ready.  And hey I’m happy to receive professional service, but bugger because now I’ve got a bit of urgent work in the next few days to get the description and price tags ready for the first lot to go on show on Unpack Day.  Naturally, all the boxes I had anticipated that Quarantine would release first – and for which I have pre-prepared the description and price tags - have not yet been released, so now I’m in a tizz of activity to get tags done for the stock I haven’t yet considered.

Unpack Day will be next Tuesday (19 June) and it should be good fun.  The shop will entirely change how it looks, which is what we do on every Unpack Day, but things I can’t fit in the shop straight away will start to make an appearance on the Website.  It will be all go around here for the next little while.

07 June 2012

Conspiracy Theories (and Dumb Questions) Abound

Not that I’m saying that we live in Nuttsville Central, but you’ve really got to wonder how some people function in the real world.  Maybe it’s because they live in their own happy parallel universe.

We encounter a lot of dumb questions in the shop, mostly relating to Calypso, but they’re just dumb questions rather than conspirary theories.  Most often asked:

Question:  Is that a cat?
Our Answer:  Not, it’s a special breed of fish.

Question:  Did she start off that colour?
Our Answer:  No, she started off purple.

Question:  Is this an antiques shop?
Our Answer:  No it’s a pet shop.

Our Statement:  She (Calypso) will be good shop security when she grows up – transgressors will be dragged off by the neck.
Alarmed response, while stepping back:  Ohhh, are you joking?

Yes people, that’s a joke.  And just to contextualize it, Calypso is all of 5kg at the moment and the only thing she can drag around by the neck is her favourite soft toy.

Question:  Is this real?
Our Answer:  No, it’s all in your imagination.

So okay the last question isn’t entirely stupid, because you might not know that you’re looking at an antique unless someone tells you.  And you also might not know to wear clean undies unless someone tells you to. 

As for the conspiracy theories, the three best we’ve had suggested lately are:

·        Climate change is happening because the Earth has moved on its axis 3.5 degrees and “they” aren’t telling anyone.  Nothing is happening with the tides and from our perspective on our hill, where we see the sun rise over the ocean every morning, it appears to be rising in the right location for this time of year.  But that’s because we’re not very observant, apparently.

·        You know those white trails you see behind aeroplanes on sunny days?  They’re actually called  ‘Chem Trails’ and they are releasing mind altering drugs intended to subdue and control the world’s population.  Every single Government in the world is in on this one, and they’re working together to keep us all under the thumb.  Turns out that North Korea and Iran and Afghanistan and America (not to forget our own Government) are bosom buddies after all, and are working together to oppress us.  Doug and I used to work in Government, with reasonably good access (like working for Front Bench Cabinet Ministers, regularly briefing the Prime Minister and Attorney-General, etc – all in another life), and we never once heard a hint of this practice.  But that’s because we were also being mind-controlled and oppressed, of course, like youse lot.

·        Did you know that all cats are Aliens?  Neither did I until some dude came into the shop and declared that the very fact that Klaatu had his name was the last piece of evidence he needed to convince him.  It’s true that Klaatu is named after the alien in 1950s science fiction movie The Day the Earth Stood Still – the original version, not the sucky Keanu Reeves remake – and that means that technically Artemis should have been called Gort.  But can you imagine the hysterics this man would have had if Artemis had actually been called Gort?  Just having a cat called Klaatu caused huge excitement and lots of Ha! I Knew I Was Right!  And did you know that squirrels are also Aliens?  And something else strange like hedgehogs, I think, but I was massively tuning out by then.

Can’t there be some type of test before people are allowed to vote?  Or have children?  I’ve been through a Psych test so I know I’m crazy.  But not as crazy as some, it seems.

On something shop-related (other than the visiting crazies), the ship with our latest consignment has now docked in Brisbane.  Hurrah!  We have just under a tonne of things to unpack, so it’s going to be good.  Now we have to do the biannual dance with Customs and Quarantine, but hopefully Unpack Day will happen within the next fortnight.  As usual, you’ll hear it first here.

Meanwhile my photography for the website has continued, slowly but we’re making some progress.  We will almost certainly go live next week and take it from there.  We will have a New In The Shop This Week page, where everything just photographed will be placed to begin with.  Soon, very soon.