26 July 2012


Some of the French enamelware new in the shop this week
Not a lot to chat about this week, because it’s been a steady slog of putting more things out and keeping up with gaps on the shelves.  Having said that, it’s always interesting how every single week in the shop is so different, and you just can’t predict what will sell.  Last Wednesday I had made only made two sales by 1.45pm.  Things were looking grim, for no apparent reason.  But then heaps of people descended upon us, and I was running from pillar to post and in the last two hours of the day it turned into an excellent selling day.  What was that about?  This Wednesday was pretty similar, with a few sales early but nothing to get too excited about until the moment that I was left alone in the shop – then whammo, people came out of the woodwork so I was trying to discuss items with people and wrap and keep an eye on everything – including Calypso and her usual entourage of admirers.  It’s always easier when the selling is well paced rather than nothing, nothing, nothing, then suddenly everyone turns up at once and want to be shown things at the same time.  Pace yourselves, people!
Some of the Stoneware new in the shop this week

The last of the Victorian and Edwardian stoneware came out this week, and is being well received.  I’ve put a small amount on the website, and have already sold a couple of pieces.  In the shop we’ve done a Downton Abbey kitchen window, with the stoneware, copper, a few pieces of this week’s new French enamelware for splashes of colour, and various other kitchen accessories.  Looks good.  I tried to photograph it, but I don’t have a wide enough angled lens to get the full effect.  But trust me, it looks good and already people are stopping and lingering for a look.  You know you’ve done a good window when it stops people as they’re walking past and they then stay for a while.  Even better when it draws them into the shop.

This week's Dresser display
Top of one of my favourite
vintage tins in the shop
So now the shop is pretty well as full as I can make it, and I can’t bring out new things until I shift a few of the current items.  Having said that, I brought out the first of the cool French grape buckets on Wednesday and sold it that day, and now have the second one reserved for someone coming for it on Saturday.  That means I’ll have one left, so I will just find some room somewhere for it.  I expect it will sell as quickly as all the other metal and wire ware baskets, so I won’t have to find room for long. 

Lid of my other favourite vintage
tin in the shop
My photos this week are mostly a random selection from around the shop, because I’ve got plenty to choose from at the moment.  The last of the children’s’ china is now out, and what charming pieces they are.  Children’s pieces are hard to find in excellent condition and what I found on the last buying trip has sold pretty quickly after coming out.  These last pieces are quite cute, so someone will love them.

Child's Cup
Child's Plate
I am the walking wounded this week, thanks to an encounter with Calypso.  We were playing with each other for control over a cardboard box when she suddenly leapt forward and slashed the back of my hand.  I know she was only playing, but I do not have the cat skin of her normal worthy opponents so blood was drawn.  I squawked and she dashed off, so technically I won control of the box and was thus the winner.  It just didn’t exactly look that way, as blood dripped down my hand.  But I was the winner.  I was!  And she immediately returned for a big schmoozy cuddle, so I was a magnanimous winner at that.  I wanted to include a photo to show what an amazing spread she has when she flexes her claws, but I couldn’t get a shot that suitably portrayed my pain and suffering.  She’s 10 months old and her claw flex is 2.5 inches wide, which is impressive for a little gel.

Old ceramics & old glass on old wood
And in my weekly quest to get a decent photo of Mischka, you can see that I have given up this time and just taken a shot of her snoozing on the job.  It’s the only time she sits still, so maybe I’ll just end up with a collection of Mischka In Repose  pictures.  I had to laugh when I heard part of a Kipling poem this week, because it sums up Mischka’s attitude to cooperating with me on the photo front:  Shan’t-Can’t-Don’t-Won’t.  I like this quote so much I am going to share it with Mischka to make it my own personal motto for a while.  It used to be I want it all and I want it now, but then I matured and it became Give me what I want and no-one gets hurt but I think it’s time for another change.  I shall be ornery before my time, and why not?  I will because I said so.

As close as Mischka gets to cooperating for a photo

20 July 2012

Horrible Photos & Other Disasters

Ginger Jar in my Green Window this week
It’s our 4 Year Anniversary in the shop today.  Yay, who would have thunk?  Although we’ve been dealing in antiques for 25 years, this is the first shop we’ve ever had and we opened it just as the Global Financial Crisis started.  What excellent timing – yes sirree, we have damn fine business sense.  But it means that during our foray into retail we’ve never been through boom times, and yet we’re still surviving.  In fact we’re still thriving.  And, most importantly, we’re still having fun.

The editor of the local community magazine unexpectedly came by to take my photo with some of our new stock – coincidental to our anniversary because she didn’t know about that when she visited - and took a shot of me holding my current favourite thing in the shop, which is a large English chinoiserie ginger jar.  I hate having my photo taken, and naturally I was having a serious Bad Hair Day.  Calypso was shop manager at the time and I suggested photographing her, seeing how she was artfully snoozing on the Manager’s chair with her legs on either side of the back, looking for all the world like a leopard sleeping on a tree branch.  But no, the photo had to be of a human.  Holding something nice.  And looking excited about it. 

So anyway, I submitted and cracked a suitably embarrassing how-thrilled-am-I-to-be-going-through-this grin but I’d rather the stock, or the moggie, or really anything else except me, be photographed.  Doug and I spent many years flying under the radar (old habit from a former life) and it doesn’t sit well with me to be willingly photographed.  But hey, it’s free publicity and it was a nice thing for them to do.  Even if I do look like an utter dag. 

One of my current favourite
American Calendar Girls
One of my current most pneumatic
American Calendar Girls
And it’s already working because two women have come into the shop today on the basis of seeing my happy smiling face in the magazine yesterday.  Well, that’s how they kindly described it.  And one of those ladies bought some jewellery, which was good.  And just now someone came in to buy the Chinoiserie ginger jar on the basis of seeing it in the magazine.  I know I’m going have to do some marketing to really get the website up and running, and this exercise just proves how effective that can be.  And yet photographing the stock can be dang difficult.  I took shots of my current favourite American Calendar Girls just to show how hard it is to photograph through glass., plus a couple of my current favourite glass pieces, and although they look interesting they're much nicer in real life.  So this will be a challenge.

Glass Comport that looks & feels
like an upsidedown Sea Anemone
Vintage Citrus Juicer just like
the ones used by street
vendors in Istanbul
But some things are easier to photograph, so I'll just have to be selective.  The commercial standard Citrus Juicer I put in the window this week was easy to shoot.  In Istanbul we noticed that street vendors selling freshly squeezed orange juice were using juicers just like this one, and boy they worked well. 

Glass Butterfly Tray, which is
actually pale blue
The enamelware window last week attracted a huge amount of attention, which was of course the whole idea.  The only problem was that it was a very crowded window, which it needed to be to achieve the Riot of Colour impact I was after.  But this did lead to a disaster, because getting in and out of the window proved to be a challenge and naturally people were asking me to retrieve things for them.  Last week I discovered a man down on his elbows and knees, bum in the air, peering under the brass-topped Byzantine Revival table, but I was able to intercept him before he bodged at it too much.  You make a very tempting target I told his rear end as I approached him from behind.  He quickly scrambled to his feet and said he was just trying to see if the top came off the table, which indeed it does and it might have been easier just to ask me that.  But you know how men don’t like to ask, right?  
Top of the offending table

So on Market Day, with the shop full of people and me here alone and the usual scrum around my table thanks to Calypso, I did not notice that someone else had fiddled with the table and had in fact moved the top out of alignment, so it was now quite precariously tilted.  Can you see where I’m heading here?  Yet again someone asked me to get something out of the window, and as I nudged the table as I stepped past it the fabulous Aladdin lamp that was sitting on it – the one with the big, beautiful white glass shade – went flying.  By golly it made the most amazingly loud smashing crashing noise you’ve ever heard.  Very impressive.  The cafĂ© next door was full, our shop was full, so I looked up to see dozens of saucer eyes and mouths in the O shape all directed at me.  Oops, I said.  I think I also said Bugger.  And I couldn’t even blame the cat.  But oh well, what can you do?  Accidents happen. 

Besides that incident it was a solidly good week again, and just as well because as of today I have started to plan the September buying trip so I’m up for some airfares real soon.  I had hoped to have the time to head to the south of France during this trip, to be there for my birthday, but our shop sitters can only come for a limited period so we have to condense our plans.  Nonetheless, I’ve still been able to schedule a play day in Versailles, a bit of play time in Paris (besides the shopping bit), and it looks like we’ll spend my birthday at Mont St Michel, which is very beautiful and we haven’t been there for years so that will be nice.  I quite fancy going to a Leonardo da Vinci exhibition currently on at Buckingham Palace if we have time while in London, but we’re having to knuckle down and get some serious shopping done that week (and thus serious amounts of cataloguing and packing) so we’ll have to keep that plan open until we see how things pan out.   

St George & The Dragon Vintage Tin
Side view of tin
We’ve unpacked quite a number of additional boxes this week, and have enjoyed rediscovering some nice things.  I have kept one vintage tin at home this time, while I consider whether to keep it.  I probably will.  It features St George & The Dragon, and they are depicted in an attractive mosaic design and I quite fancy it.  The last time I had a tin clearly made by the same company because of the mosaic design, it showed the Three Wise Men following the Star to Bethlehem.  That was a lovely tin, but it came out on Unpack Day and someone passing came into the shop just as I was unwrapping it and they immediately pounced on it so I didn’t have time to consider it for myself.  This time I’m ahead of the game and so get to keep the tin.  Probably. 

French decorative cast iron top
of a gate to a church yard
French decorative cast iron top of
the metal arch of the gate into
the church yard
This week I have also finally unpacked some lovely French ecclesiastical metalware, which I knew would have Dibs on from the moment I bought it, and indeed it was greeted with great joy and whooping and kiss-kissing on both cheeks by the Fabulous Fran.  She deserves all the nice things I can find for her, so I don’t mind that she keeps propelling herself to the top of my Wait List for these type of things.  Beautiful religious objects are always popular, but very difficult to come by at reasonable prices.  These two are respectively from the top of a gate into an old church yard, and the top of the metal arch over the gate into that church yard.  I did see a gorgeous marble angel at the Porte de Clignancourt Markets in Paris last trip, and I really, really wanted it, but at 3000 Euros it had to stay behind.  

Getting closer to obtaining a
decent photo of Mischka
In non-shop news, finally I’m getting closer to taking a decent photo of Mischka.  The trick was to first exhaust her (and me!) with a game of chasey around the central table in the shop.  Is it any wonder that things break around here with all this idiot behaviour?  She’s very good at doubling back on herself and feigning going in one direction but quickly jumping in the opposite direction.  She is always IT and I am always the chased one.  I put up a pretty good fight but she always gets me in the end, often by cheating and going across the table rather than around it, but that’s the benefit of being an agile pussycat chasing a galumphing human. 

Caleb is almost ready to come home
Meanwhile, we draw closer to bringing Caleb home – only two weeks to go now.  We visit him every Sunday after we close the shop, and what a sweet, engaging, schmoozy little boy he is.  He leans into you when you scratch his shoulders, and then throws himself down so you can tickle his belly.  We’re going to get on fine.  The rest of the Gang is so good natured that after the initial settling in period I’m sure they’ll take him into the fold and teach him how to be an Utter Ratbag too.  And did you hear about the cat in Alaska that was voted town Mayor?  Why can’t we do that here?  Vote 1 Klaatu!

12 July 2012

New Things & Strange Encounters

It’s been another excellent week on the sales front (hurrah!) so the pressure is on to keep the shelves fully stocked, but we’re keeping up with it.  So now, more importantly, we have to make an effort to get some of the bigger things out.  This week we’ve brought out a really lovely and extraordinarily heavy French bookpress.  This is the item that I lugged a kilometre back to our van from the Paris Markets, and it is so heavy it broke my cat trolley three times during that interminable trek.  It’s somewhat heavier than our huge cast iron pestle and mortar, which also fell to me to cart to the van from the Markets, and that’s 17kg. 

People say they can’t believe that on a Saturday night in Paris I declined going out to dinner and opted instead to go to bed (and not in a good French sense, just in a totally exhausted sense).  But if they had done the lugging I had done – not forgetting that the van was so far from the Markets and we had to go back to it three times, fully ladened with really heavy stuff – plus also do multiple laps of the Markets, then maybe I would elicit more sympathy.  How I suffer for my customers.

This week we’re also bringing out some amazingly coloured enamelware and probably the best Picquot ware tea set that we’ve ever had (sounds French but it’s actually English).  Yesterday I brought out two very cool semi-industrial looking metal potato baskets, and they both sold straight away.  One didn’t actually make it into the shop because it was snaffled by someone as Doug was carrying it in.  All the neeps wire baskets are now sold (neeps is Scottish for turnips), and also a very wonky but very attractive large German wire basket and a small but really stylish French wire basket came out yesterday and sold yesterday.  So that’s almost it for the wire-work.  I really favour the semi-industrial look, but it turns out so do lots of people so it’s hard for me to find and when I get it, it always sells quickly.

Still to come are some metal French grapes buckets, a nice metal milk crate from a Parisian Dairy (from back in the day when there were still dairies on the outskirts of Paris), and some very weird and yet weirdly attractive wire and wood box-crate-things, which no-one knows the faintest thing about.  Once I dig them out they’ll get a good wax-up and then make their appearance in the shop, and I don’t expect they’ll last long either.  And let’s not forget the wooden textile trolley from Lancashire (although that has a Dibs on it, so it might not make it into the shop) and the two big trolleys from the Dutch piano factory that I had to fight off an Italian and French dealer to get, although we need to have some glass cut for them so they can be presented as the coffee tables that they will inevitably be used as. 
Art Deco Picquotware
So we’ve still got plenty of really good stock to come out.  Someone asked this week if they had missed out on all the good things and all the bargains because they hadn’t made it in for the first few weeks of the new shipment being presented.  But no, we open boxes at random so there’s no telling what’s coming out next.  This week I put out some English Art Deco glass plates and bowls and I have $6 each on them, and you can’t do better than genuine Art Deco for $6 by anybody’s measure, so I feel confident in saying I still have plenty of good things and bargains to come.

Calypso modelling a Metal Potato Basket -
there's always a trusty Photographer's Assistant
available when you try to photograph stock at home

The visitors in the shop this week have been the seasonal crop of New Zealanders and people from Melbourne, who head north to escape the southern winter.  I used to live in Melbourne, and if I could have headed north during winter I absolutely would have.  Mind you, it’s done little but rain here for weeks even though it’s meant to be the dry season, but it’s still warmer than down south.  And overwhelmingly people have been lovely, complimentary about the shop and appropriately admiring of the Moggie on Duty.  But yes, there have been a few strange ones, and I’m afraid when you’re a bit strange so close to me writing the weekly Blog then I will remember you and Blog on you.

So here’s the Strange Encounters for the week:

Strange Encounter 1:  it was only a brief encounter, but a man stood over my desk, frowning and shaking his head at my laptop.  You know you shouldn’t have that in here, he said, it’s totally out of keeping with the rest of the shop.  Would you have me use an abacus? I replied. Well, yes he said.  I was joking.  He wasn’t.  We’re a modern antiques shop, I said.  Well it just doesn’t look right, he grumbled. 

Strange Encounter 2:  This week I’ve been wearing the cool t-shirts I bought in Amsterdam, and it’s sometimes amazing the responses I’ve had to them.  Maybe I should have bought some as retro-looking stock, because people always notice and comment on them.  Next time I’m in Amsterdam I’ll think about getting some.  The Mad Robots are particularly admired, with people wanting to know where to get them, and when they don’t want to travel to Amsterdam for them they will sometimes offer to buy them off my back.  Two women made the offer this week – have you ever had someone walk up to you and want to buy the clothes you’re wearing?  I can’t imagine doing it, and find it a bit strange.  One woman was very insistent – Really, she said, if you will take it off right now I’ll buy it right now.  But I don’t have anything to change into, I said, and I don’t want to frighten passing children.  Surely you can find something, she said, because I really want it.  But even if I had replacement clothes here, it’s not for sale I said.  But are you sure? she said, several times.  And yes, I was sure that I was not going to spend the rest of the day clad only in my bra.

Strange Encounter 3:  a couple came into the shop, on a day I was wearing my Death’s Head Mickey t-shirt (another Amsterdam purchase).  Oh, what happened to Mickey? the woman said.  He met with an untimely demise, I said.  She looked totally blank.  What? she said.  He carked it, I said, and that she understood.  Oh come on – surely standards of English haven’t fallen that much?  Not only do I require the people who read this Blog to enjoy a bit of text as well as pretty pictures, I also require people coming into the shop to have a standard level of education so they can understand basic English.  My shop, my rules, and that’s what I decree. 

But wait, there’s more to Strange Encounter 3 – the woman took a fancy to my large French keys, but needed advice on whether to buy one.  Advice from The Other Side, that is.  So she popped out to her car and came back with a large crystal on a string, in order to scry for guidance on whether to buy one.  I am familiar with the practice of scrying – whoever said an Anthropology degree would not come in handy in a retail environment?  And I am always on the look out for Victorian era crystal balls or other old Wicca paraphernalia because it’s enormously popular and sells the instant I put it into the shop.  Anyway, she told me that the crystal going round-and-round over the keys meant yes, and backwards and forwards meant no.  But I’m sorry, I could see her hand moving.  She was good, and did it subtly, but nonetheless there was movement.  Anyway, officially the Spirits told her to buy two keys so that was good of them.  Maybe it was the means by which she convinced her husband she should buy things?  How can he argue with the Ghost of Granny?  I’d rather just tell Doug that I was going to buy something rather than go through that palaver, but whatever works I suppose. 

Strange Encounter 4:  As I mentioned earlier, we’ve had lots of New Zealanders in the shop this week.  Despite what every other nationality thinks, Australian and New Zealander accents can be very different, particularly when they’re broad.  So a woman came in and admired Klaatu, commenting on what a good boy he was for sitting at his spot on the desk and behaving himself.  He’s a working cat, I said, and he knows the drill.  Oh, so he’s a retter, she said.  I had no idea what she was talking about – I don’t know what a retter is, I said.  In New Zealand working cats are called retters, she said, that’s what everyone calls them.  I’m afraid I’ve never heard of that, I said.  You know, she said, they catch rets and mice.  Ah, a ratter.  rAtter.  There’s an ‘a’ in that word, you know.  And anyway, miscommunications aside, perish the thought that Klaatu would sully his claws catching rats.  He’s a White Collar Cat, management material, and he has never even seen a rat. 

And while I’m Blogging on New Zealanders, Strange Encounter 5 involved a woman who came and looked closely at our last remaining pair of French tailor’s shears (after bringing five back from the Paris Markets).  These are for shearing sheep, aren’t they? she said.  That’s a very New Zealander thing to say, I said.  They are tailor’s shears from Paris, and there aren’t many sheep in Paris.  Oh, aren’t there? she asked.  Well, not that I’ve seen lately, I said.

It sounds like I’ve had non-stop bizarre moments this week, but in fact they were all over very quickly and just gave me something to chuckle over.  Most people are very nice and friendly and not one bit strange.  But they don’t get Blogged about, do they?  The lesson here is that if you want people to talk about you, you need to give them something to talk about. 

Mischka's usual Awake Pose -
What are you doing? What are you doing?
And in a non-shop moment, I’ve been trying to get a decent photo of Mischka for the last week – but she only sits still when she’s asleep and I want an Awake Shot.  She and Calypso are firm friends and often get into mischief together, and today I caught them about to be naughty and have a chew on an orchid we have in our bathroom.  But having been caught red-pawed they both legged it quick smart, although Calypso lingered for a moment, just to let me know that she’s a Big Girl Now and I’m not The Boss of Her - to which the answer is of course No You’re Not, and Yes I Am.  So the orchid survives unscathed for another day – until the ratbags can sneak back when I’m not looking.

Calypso considering being a Bad Girl & taking her
time about running off to avoid my wrath
Mischka knows to leg it quick smart

And one last thing – I’ve just received an email from Caroline, from www.westendcottage.blogspot.com.au.  She’s a lovely lady who visited our shop a few weeks ago and has now blogged about her visit to us.  She’s almost as new to blogging as I am, and hopefully she’s enjoying it too.  This has become almost a work ‘Dear Diary’ for me, and I’m enjoying it – hopefully you are too.

06 July 2012

The Potential Perils of Unpacking

Okay, Week Two of the new shipment has now concluded, and it was even better than Week One. Hurrah! We’re very happy with the reception that the new things are receiving. And honestly, if our approach of selling great things at great prices didn’t work then we’d just have to pack up and flounce off because I can’t think of anything else we could do. We worked out this week that our prices are now lower than they were four years ago when we opened the shop, and that’s because the exchange rate for the Australian dollar against the euro and pound has improved hugely but our pricing structure hasn’t changed. But it’s still working sufficiently well to send us to Europe twice a year, and that’s all we ask – our needs are few.

So this week has seen us opening heaps more boxes. All of the books are now in the shop, and I tried to put some on the website but a technical glitch meant that it didn’t happen. Technology is a fine thing until it carks it and you don’t know why. So it’s just a selection of vintage French jewellery that’s new on the website this week and I’ll try to add other things next week. Several beautiful books sold as soon as they came into the shop, and that’s great but a bit annoying because I really wanted them on the website before they came into the shop. Still, I can only try my best with uncooperative technology - it’s just that my best doesn’t get me too far on the techno front.

Tiny Wooden Elephant
But I have now (kind of) mastered photos on the Blog, as you know, so this week you’re getting some random shots from around the shop, plus the latest of Calypso, who is today’s shop manager but who has been entirely uncooperative when it comes to taking photos. She has taken to squawking at people who put cameras in her face - I
Calypso telling me to Sod Off
think it’s Cat for Sod Off Paparazzi, and she even did it to me. Now I understand the frustration of people trying to photograph a beautiful cat who keeps pulling Ugly Passport Photo faces.

In the shop some really outstanding glass has come out, including a large and beautiful signed Schneider crystal splash bowl. Schneider sounds German but he was actually French. He learned a lot of his technique from artisans at the Galle workshops, to whom he gave space when the Galle studio was being rebuilt after a fire.
French Copper
His generosity was repaid with the opportunity to learn techniques from one of the foremost glass artists in France. There was a Schneider exhibition in Paris when we visited in March, where you could look at all the lovely pieces but not have them, so we were very pleased that we had already snaffled a substantial piece at the Markets. It’s totally amazing what you can find at the Paris Markets.

Also at the Paris Markets I bought a big and beautiful clear, moving to amber, moving to deep red French glass splash bowl. It wasn’t in the same league as the Schneider, but still really lovely and it was my plan to feature it in the window, but I sold it just as I was restyling the window so that plan was scuppered. I put the Schneider in pride of place instead, and it looks gorgeous so we’ll see how it goes.   

Byzantine Revival Table
Apart from the Schneider I’ve gone all gold and brass and amber in the window this week, with glass and metalware, a really nice brass-topped Byzantine Revival table, and a Victorian brass Aladdin kerosene lamp with a beautiful big white glass shade. I’m hoping that Doug will bring in an interesting Victorian brass spirit kettle on a stand this afternoon, after it’s been properly polished so it looks its best, and I think that will look really nice on the Byzantine Revival table.

Oh, and I’ve also put a stunning Jones portable sewing machine in the window, which is in great condition and covered in way over-the-top decoration. Along with the Byzantine Revival Table the sewing machine is my feature piece in the window this week, and I expect it should attract some attention. The body of the machine states that it was the brand supplied to Her Majesty Queen Alexandra (wife of Edward VII).   I can’t really picture her whipping up her own frocks in the Buckingham Palace drawing room, but maybe she had a secret Royal Hobby?

So anyway, after so much unpacking our house looks like a tip, with boxes and bubble wrap everywhere. But when we’re unpacking boxes that have already been pre-opened for inspection and then stored in the shed it’s always best to do it at home rather than in the shop. We know that tree snakes live in our shed and Doug tells me that a rather large python has also taken up residence, although I’m yet to see it. I evict snakes from the shed whenever I find them, but at this time of year they’re looking for somewhere to curl up in and pre-opened boxes are ideal homes for them.

Glass Cockerel being eyed off by Calypso
On a number of occasions I’ve reached the bottom of a box and found an unexpected guest at the bottom. Tree snakes tend to be reasonably sedate, although sometimes they’re a bit grumpy at being disturbed and strike at you. A friend who has some expertise in the area tells me that tree snakes are faking it and won’t really bite you because a human is too big for them to take on, but by golly I’ve encountered a couple who made a good show of “pretending” they were going to bite me. I was bitten by a python once, and that hurt like hell, and I was hoping for a decent scar so I had evidence of my suffering, but it healed up nicely and there isn’t a sign that it ever had it’s fangs around my leg.

Ginger Jar & Large Fishing Floats

So the bottom line is that once boxes have been opened and then spent any time in the shed the rest of the unpacking occurs at home, so any excitement can happen in my lounge room rather than the middle of the shop.
We did once accidentally bring a tree snake into the shop, inside a big Queensland Maple kitchen dresser which we had left in our carport overnight before taking it in. It hid in the back of the dresser until we went home, and then overnight made its way up onto the shelves and curled up inside a ceramic vase.
Brown Tree Snake

And then, as luck would have it, the next day a man came into the shop asking about the particular brand of ceramic that the snake was (unbeknownst to us) hiding in. He was a big guy, over six foot tall and broad with it, and to his credit when he saw there was a snake curled up in the vase he didn’t drop it. But he did squeal like a girl and thrust the vase at me – and at that point I didn’t know what type of snake he was passing to me so that was an alarming move. Then he ran - positively hightailed it - out of the shop, never to be seen again. Well, Chivalry Lives, I thought. 

So then I had the problem of removing the snake from the vase and popping it into a bag so I could take it home and release it into the forest. The sensible thing would have been simply to put the entire vase into the bag, and then worry about decanting the snake once I was home. But at that very moment did I think of that? No I did not.
Ships Wheel & Harry the Dog Doorstop

I was concerned to remove the snake while not breaking the vase, so I turned the vase upside-down over a bag and gave it a good shake. Sure enough, the snake fell out of the vase and into the bag, but then it immediately leapt straight out of the bag and onto the floor. Who knew that snakes could jump straight up into the air? Well they can. The snake then tried to leg it (figuratively speaking) to hide under a cabinet, but oh no, it wasn’t going anywhere except into my bag as far as I was concerned.

If anyone had looked through the window of the shop at that point they would have treated to the sight of me holding a fully grown tree snake by the tail and attempting to wrangle it into a bag. A bag that it really didn’t want to get into, so it was doing a great deal of wriggling and doubling back on itself and I was hopping about the shop like a mad woman while trying to hold on to it but avoid being bitten. In the end I prevailed, the snake was bagged and I took it home and put it in a nice tree. All without the help of the great big dude who had run squealing - and I rather fancy flapping his hands - from my shop.

Anyway all of this is apropos of nothing, because so far from this shipment I have found no snakes hiding in the bottom of boxes retrieved from our shed. But I am on the look-out. Should you come to the shop and find a tree snake in your purchase it will cost Extra. Me extracting it for you will be Real Extra. And if you start squealing I’ll make you remove it yourself.

Calypso more-or-less cooperating in the end