27 December 2012

Headless Chooks & Butt-Faced Men

New on the website - French
Scandale Lingerie Advertisement
We’re now into the second week of the new stock, and it’s going great guns.  We are being totally hammered.  Hurrah!  We’re opening multiple new boxes every day and still there are gaps on the shelves because we can’t keep up.  Lucky we bought so much.  But getting things unpacked and properly presented for sale takes longer than you might think, so we’re dashing about like headless chooks.

In addition, the Night Markets on Friday nights at Eumundi have turned out to be enormous for us. We brought Caleb in as the Night Manager last Friday and he played up merry hell, which was an issue with so many customers to be dealing with. And seeing how I suspected we’d have a busy day on the Saturday before Christmas (and we did) I couldn’t risk bringing him so he missed his play date with Polly the Poodle. Klaatu - Mr Reliable - was in the Chair instead, and while he is pleasant to Polly and always happy to rub noses with her, he’s certainly not interested in losing any dignity by playing with her. So we’re trying again with Caleb next Saturday, and Calypso can be the Friday Night Manager.
Caleb turned 7 months old this week and reckons he's a big boy now and I'm not the
boss of him.  To which the answer is No you're not, and yes I am.  He's still coming
to terms with that.
New on the website - French
Magazine Cover
We always know that we’ve got Things of Interest in the window when we come into the shop and find major hand and finger (and sometimes nose, ew!) marks all over the windows.  Yesterday there was a seriously big mark, and if it wasn’t so high up we would have sworn it was buttock-shaped.  Doug said he saw a dang ugly dude with his face against the window, so maybe it was him.  I advocate looking through my windows with your eyes rather than various appendages, but as I say the marks on the windows are always a good indicator of interest in what’s being featured so there is a positive side.  Especially since it’s not me who has to go and clean off the sticky remnants of various browsers.  And it gives Doug something legit to complain about (not that he needs it to be legit).

New on the website -
Anglia Pottery Owl
I wanted to put out our excellent French metal plant stand in the window soon, but made the mistake of bringing out the French terracotta pots first and they’ve been walking out the door.  So by the time I get the plant stand out I’m unlikely to have any pots left to put on it.  They’re lovely antique pots, but I didn’t expect them to sell this quickly.  Then again, I didn’t expect the giant panchons to sell so quickly either and they’re both gone already – before I could photograph them for the website.  Plus the very cool 1960s retro table that was going to feature in the window has gone, and a good number of the vintage tins and tonnes of glass.  In fact, most things I’ve been photographing for the website each week are selling before I can get them on the website, but hey I’m not complaining and I’ve got lots and lots of good things so I’ll just photograph faster from now on.
Mischka loves to be in the middle of everything.  This is her helping to make the bed,
supervising from the middle of the bed, of course.

21 December 2012

The Secret Relationship Between Shopping & Sex

New on the Website -
Hungarian Enamel Plate
As many women know, there is no secret – good shopping is waaay better!  Sorry chaps, but it’s now been scientifically proven that most women prefer a good shop over a good shag.  It was on the internet so it must be true.  But there’s hope!  Women so appreciate men who shop well that it significantly improves their intimate relationships.  So men, you need to be good shoppers and be seen to be good shoppers.  You can do it.  Practice!  Yes, you can. 
So, seeing how it’s Christmas and I’m feeling philanthropic, here are some handy shopping tips for men.  They are derived from my observations in the shop, as to what works and what so doesn’t when accompanying your partner shopping:
1.                Be interested in what she’s buying.  Okay, at least feign interest.  Convincingly.  We can all tell that lights-are-on-but-no-one's-home look, and being openly oblivious will gain you no brownie points.  And hey, you might be getting this as a gift, so pay attention.   Unless you really did want your shirts trimmed with that lovely French cotton lace she just bought.
New on the website - English Glass
Honey Pourer with Blue Bakelite Lid
2.    If you are asked for your opinion, have one.  In our shop we don’t sell clothes so there’s no chance of falling into the classic ‘does this make my bum look big’ trap.  You do know that’s a trick question, right?  So relax and say what you think.  As long as you agree with her - that goes without saying.  If it’s jewellery, it looks lovely.  If it’s a vase, it looks lovely.  If it’s a vintage copper cooking pot, it looks lovely.  See, that wasn’t so hard.

3.                Don’t whine about how long it’s taking.  Really, I might sic Calypso onto the next bloke who gets all ‘are you done yet’ while his partner is trying to enjoy herself.  Is this one small pleasure for her really worth so little to you?  That’s why you’re not getting any sex, matey.
4.  Don’t, under any circumstances, splutter and say ‘how much?’.  I might smack you across the back of the head myself if you do that, but that’s because you’re an idiot who doesn’t know a bargain when he sees one.  And then you’ll get another head smack from your partner for openly declaring that she’s not worth a trifling amount.  But while my head smack will be literal and will hurt (I promise), hers might be more a figural.  Like, you’re not getting any sex, matey.

Mischka hardly ever cooperates by
posing nicely for photos, but she's
today's Shop Manager so here she is.

These tips will help you understand, Grasshopper, at least part of the secret relationship between shopping and sex.  If you don’t do one well, you're less likely to do the other at all.  But apart from mastering these basic survival skills, what is guaranteed to work?   It’s simple, really.  Happy Wife, Happy Life is something most men would be well advised to have tattooed somewhere prominent. 

And I can tell you what has been working big time – romantic men, who have paid attention when their partner noted something she liked, and who snuck back later to buy it for her as a secret gift.  This is even more effective than buying it outright at the time.  Shows that you’ve paid attention (good), shown initiative (very good), and are a romantic devil who buys her lovely surprises (major sex).  Truly, I have spoken to many women in our shop about this issue, and my advice is iron clad, can’t fail, you’ll be so grateful you listened to me.

Klaatu & Caleb have become good mates, and indulge in Wrestlemania at every opportunity.
You need to be careful where you walk if you don't want to get caught up in the brawl
because they won't be distracted from their wrestles by anything except dinner.

In the shop, the new stock was released by Customs on Tuesday, Doug collected it on Tuesday and we had Unpack Day on Tuesday. Tuesday was a big day. And hurrah, it has been very well received and I’ve already had to unpack several additional boxes. The Night Markets went well last week, thank you everyone, so we’re staying open a bit later tonight as well, and we’ll see how things go on Saturday which is the main market day.

We’re taking a risk in having Caleb as the Shop Manager on Saturday, which we expect to be really busy and he generates a crowd just by himself. Past experience has shown that Busy Day + Caleb as Manager = Mayhem in the Shop. But Polly the Poodle, mentioned the Blog before last, apparently had such a good time with him that she dragged her owner into the shop last Saturday for another play. But oh dear, it was Calypso in the chair last Saturday, and she is less sanguine about dogs than Caleb. So after getting the Bengal death stare Polly wisely kept her distance, and I promised to bring Caleb in on this coming Saturday for a play date with Polly. I'll try to get photos.

I shan’t Blog again before Christmas, so have a happy one, a leisurely one, a delicious one, and we shall reconvene soon.

Klaatu still has the size and weight advantage, but he's very patient with the Littlest Ratbag
and lets himself be put in headlocks all the time.  Caleb is growing like topsey, though, and
he won't be the littlest one for much longer.

18 December 2012

Our New Stock of Antiques Has Arrived

New stock - Polish red enamel double boiler, c1930

This will be short and sweet because I’m hugely busy today.  And that’s because it's Unpack Day!  Yay!  Yes, the new stock has arrived and it’s great.  We’re very happy with it. 
New stock -
Midwinter 'Festival' Dinner Plate, c1953 

Yet again it turns out that I’ve bought a lot of lovely vintage glass, but what can I say?  I like lovely vintage glass.  There is also a larger than usual amount of French enamelware, and heaps of French metalware (potato baskets, oyster baskets, grape baskets).  I don’t see these metal items every trip, so I buy up when I can.  The rest of the French vintage magazine images and advertisements are also here, and on that front I did the best buying I’ve ever done.
And how many vintage tins can one girl buy in one go? A lot, turns out to be the answer. Fortunately, plenty of people like to use lovely old biscuit and cake tins for general storage just like I do, and those people will be well supplied.
Caleb snoozing in the sunshine, having an easier time than us on Unpack Day.

And there’s loads more.  The shop will look completely different by the time we open on Wednesday, and I’ll start to put a selection of new stock onto the website as soon as I can.

New stock - Art Nouveau Deep Amethyst Carnival Glass Bowl, c1910


14 December 2012

Women & Cats Will Do As They Please

What do you mean it's naughty to sleep on the clean washing?
The ship with our new stock on board has docked in Brisbane!  Hurrah!  So the ship didn’t sink or get hijacked by pirates en route, which is always a good start.  Now comes the hardest bit – getting Customs and Quarantine to not only clear our shipment, but to do so promptly.  Good luck with that, I hear you cry, and on the basis of past experience you are entirely correct.  But a girl can dream.  So Unpack Day for our new stock edges ever closer but so does Christmas, and we’ll see which gets here first.
You are mistaken, how could you even suggest I would do such a thing?
Meanwhile, I am still putting new things on the website, this week jewellery, pictures, some Roman antiquities and big knives.  Someone came into the shop this week to look at our knives and said her husband didn’t want a carving knife, but more something he could stab someone with.  Has this man never seen Psycho?  Carving knives can serve a multitude of purposes.  But anyway, I decided that maybe it was best not to put ideas in his already deranged head.

Anyway, whatever, I'm going back to sleep.
Caleb had his first close encounter with a dog this week, with a little black poodle called Polly, who comes in to the shop with her owner from time to time.  Polly and Klaatu have long since established a cordial relationship, with a bit of nose touching before Klaatu dismisses her as not worth staying awake for. 

But Calypso said it was okay to snooze here.
But this was the first close encounter with a dog for Caleb.  He has seen off dogs who dared enter the shop before, but that was simply done from a distance with a bit of fluffing up and some cool snarling.  It has the desired effect on both the mutts and their owners, and sends them packing quick smart.

And now I can't leave until I've had a quick wash.  More to the left, Artemis!
But poor Polly was carried right up to the desk, so a close encounter was inevitable.  Caleb jumped down to meet her, even though I suggested that he stay where he was, but he was determined to do as he wished on this matter.  He’s a stubborn little tyke, and quite strong when he really drags on his leash.  So he marched right up to Polly, with me and Polly’s owner hovering closely because no-one wanted Shredded Polly all over the shop.
Klaatu is cordial but always issues to ultimate insult to Polly the Poodle -
he turns his back on her and goes to sleep.
But it was a lovely meeting, with Caleb head butting Polly and Polly washing his ears, after which they played peek-a-boo chasey around Polly’s owner’s legs, with Caleb as the chaser, naturally.  Eventually Polly got spooked by being chased about by a cat – and I must say Caleb can put on a serious burst of speed if he really wants to catch you – and she started shaking and needed to be picked up and comforted.  It was nice until Polly got scared, and seeing how Caleb didn’t fluff up or snarl and kept his claws to himself he’ll now be allowed to play with other dogs that come into the shop.  I know he can’t always be trusted to play nice, but we’ll see how it goes.
new on the website
French Images
& French Advertisements

It’s been an interesting sales week, with an awful lot of jewellery moving, yet more pictures and some glass.  The number of Christmas sales is growing, but it's been an amazing number of birthday gifts purchased this week. Last year the serious Christmas shopping didn’t start until around a week to go, when when we were hammered, and it looks like the same might happen this year. 
American Monet Enamel Lizard Brooch, new on the website

The Eumundi Night Markets start tonight, so we’re reopening at 5pm for an hour or so to see how it goes.  It has to go really well, though, or I shall shut and sod off home because it’s my shop and I can do as I wish.  I have a life outside the shop and no intention of being here for hours on a Friday night just for someone’s browsing pleasure – they can browse through my windows.  I will only stay open if sales are happening, people.  Just saying.

Roman Swallow Tail Arrow Head, c300AD, excavated in The Balkans, new on the website

For everyone who realised that my Blog title this week is a pinch from Robert Heinlein, kudos to you.  He is an author I really should read more of, but so far I’ve only read The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, which wasn’t what I was expecting and I really enjoyed it.  His full quote is: Women and cats will do as they please – and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.  What can you say - when something’s true it’s true.
English Carving Knife with Cream Bakelite Handle, c1930, new on the website.
To be used only for good, rather than Psycho reinactments.

06 December 2012

Death-Ray Stares Get You Nowhere, Lady

Caleb is fast approaching Calypso's record
as The Most Photographed Thing in Eumundi.
And why not? He's a beautiful boy.
Now it’s a reasonable expectation, wouldn’t you think, that if you shipped your latest stock consignment two weeks earlier than normal, that it would arrive two weeks earlier than normal?  Wrong.  Apparently the ship with our stock on board is taking the scenic route, the most meandering, tortuously indirect course the captain could devise.  What is he doing, having a holiday stop over in the Seychelles?  So no, to all those people who have contacted me to ask, it isn’t here yet.  Isn’t even in Australian waters yet.  It’s infuriating and Doug keeps telling me to chill because nothing is served by being infuriated, and yeah, yeah, whatever, so I’ve toned it down to seriously cranky and that’s as chilled as I shall be over the matter.  On the up side, we should still have our new stock out before Christmas, just not as soon as I was (reasonably) planning.
He still loves his stuffed leopard toy.
So the only things new in the shop this week, and therefore new on the Website, are jewellery and pictures.  But nice things, even if I say so myself.  You’ve got to wonder why modern-day manufacturers don’t produce such stylish advertisements – if people like your ads enough to hang them on their walls surely that’s fantastic free advertising, but I’ve seen very few modern print advertisements that I would give a second glance to.  But the old French ads are beautiful and lots of people like them.  Selling them unframed in the shop has turned out to be a popular move, so it’s been worth the effort of getting them properly tagged and presented, but not as much effort as framing them, so even better.

No-one else is allowed to play with it,
even when he's asleep.

So it’s been a quiet week and I’m afraid I don’t even have any Strange Customers stories for you.  All of our customers have been perfectly nice and friendly and normal.  You start to miss the decidedly odd encounters when you don’t have them, but normal is good for the time being.  Okay, except for this one – it’s not about antiques and it wasn’t a customer, but it did occur in the shop so it counts:  a woman came in to ask me for free Immigration advice about her visa status and then turned weird and had a hissy fit when I gave her information she didn’t want to hear. 
Klaatu prefers Doug's smelly old sailing shoes.
The last time I had reliable knowledge about Australian visas was in 1997, when I was the Senior Migration Officer and Australian Vice Consul in the UK (as well as being an antiques dealer – I could multi-skill in those days).  I did tell her that it had been a long, long time since I had looked at anything official relating to immigration, but seeing how my advice was free she wanted me to tell her why the Canadian Government hadn’t put an Australian permanent residence visa in her new Canadian passport.  Can you guess why?  Could every reasonably sensible person on the planet guess why?  She did not want to accept that the Canadian Government does not have the power to issue Australian visas, and that indeed every Government that issues visas doesn’t give this power away to any other Government. 
But at least Klaatu is prepared
to share with a friend.
Can you imagine the fun various ratbag regimes could have, issuing American visas to all their ratbag friends?  Yes, there’s a reason why this doesn’t happen anywhere, anytime for anyone.  But try telling that to this woman, who went all wide-eyed and stared intently at me, totally unblinking for an unnaturally long hasn’t-blinked-yet period.  She appeared to be trying to telepathically bore into my brain and get me to change my advice (which was to contact the Australian Immigration Dept – not the Canadians - and ask what she needed to do).  And yet I am immune to Death Ray Stares, which is important for other telepathic assailants to know.  So then she tried shouting, announcing very loudly in the middle of my shop that she was Very Inconvenienced by this information.  Don’t yell at me - try yelling at the Canadian Consulate, I told her, and see where that gets you.  Hopefully arrested, I unkindly thought to myself.
New in the shop this
week: Italian sterling
silver Mermaid Pendant
But really, why would you want Immigration advice from me?  Except that I used to know stuff, and I’ll tell you for free.  And hey, I’ve got all sorts of opinions and free advice on the topic of your choice which I will give you, as long as 1) you obey me and follow said advice, and 2) you don’t yell at me when you think my advice sucks, cause it doesn’t - my counsel is always most excellent.  Now stop pushing and just form an orderly queue.
French Art Deco Rhinestone Bow Brooch
American enamel & marcasite scorpion brooch