09 May 2013

Big News + How to Keep Witches Interested

New in the shop, vintage French
perfume advertisement.  It
features an elephant with the trunk
up for good luck, so I thought I'd
pop it in here to add to the good
luck in selling the shop.
I’ve hesitated to write for the last little while because firstly we’ve been flat out getting new stock out, but more importantly we’ve had shop news abrewing, and I wanted to wait until things were certain.  But guess what?  Things still aren’t certain – just probably certain.  So guess what?  We’ve sold the shop.  Probably. 

We hadn’t advertised it, so it was just one of those things where someone expressed an interest in buying so what the heck, we said yes.  And guess what other else?  Just as Malcolm (the prospective buyer) carried off the Lease for it to be put in his name, the very next day someone came into the shop and told me that she has a vintage shop near Brisbane but likes ours a lot better and would like to buy it.  So she left all her details and asked me to contact her if Malcolm doesn’t go ahead with the purchase.  And guess what other-other else?  Just then a business broker came by and gave us her details and reckons if we want to put it through her (should Malcolm and our First Reserve Buyer amount to only so much talk) she can sell it quick smart.  So all signs are pointing to us selling the shop, by hook or by crook.

New in the shop, vintage La Vie
Parisienne cover.  It's entitled
Courage with Two Hands.  I
thought this was also fitting,
to be featured this week
because we and Malcolm are
being brave and trying
something new.
Our first choice is for Malcolm to buy the shop because he wants us to continue to go on buying trips and sell things to him wholesale.  Totally works for us.  And he doesn’t want to buy jewellery directly from us, only for me to buy it, display it in the shop and he will take a cut from each sale.  Again, totally works for us.  I like doing battle in the Paris Markets for little niceties, as you know, and I’ve become quite adept at holding my own with the French gels (and the occasional big boofy jewellery buying bloke, as was evident from my Blog the last time we were in Paris).

The three main questions everyone has been asking me about the sale have been:

1.           Will the stock remain the same?  The answer is yes, because we’ll still be doing the buying.

2.           Will the prices remain the same?  Yes, because Malcolm is no dill and sees the benefit of high turnover and happy customers.

3.           Finally, will the cats be staying?  Are you nuts?  No, the cats will not be staying.  No moggies are included in the sale.  Malcolm has suggested he might rent one for market days, but that’s because he hasn’t yet seen Caleb in banshie mode, screeching his displeasure when I won’t let him dash about in the middle of a room full of customers wanting attention.  Maybe I’ll bring him or Calypso in for an occasional visit when I’m restocking the jewellery cabinets.
Caleb in his favourite Manager's Pose. 
He is  not included in the sale, and is also
not for rent.

So what a funny few weeks it’s been, with buyers for the shop coming out of the woodwork.  Meanwhile, our trawl through the garage continues to turn up really good stock, including a very fabulous wooden chest that dates to about 1710.  It lasted three days before we sold it, but was much admired before it got carried off.  There aren’t too many pieces of furniture for sale in Australia of that age right now, so I put it front and centre in the shop because it totally deserved prime position.
New in the shop, a vintage image
from La Vie Parisienne.  Relevant
because this is what I plan to do
for a while when the shop is sold.
Maybe with more clothes on.
Maybe not.
In terms of sales, last weekend was huge and we were totally hammered, so that’s got us diving back into the garage to find good stock that has been languishing there for the last few years.  And in contrast to Mean Wife, who I blogged on in my last instalment – remember the one who loudly told her husband that he couldn’t have the Atomic coffee maker even though he loved it and really, really, really wanted it? – well anyway this week Lovely Wife came by with her husband.  He made it clear that he really wanted the Atomic, but she feigned indifference until he wasn’t looking and then she snuck over to the desk to secretly buy it as a gift for him.  How nice was that?  So we’re down to three Italian coffee makers now, and I expect they will sell soon enough.

Jewellery has been moving well, as it always does, and just on Saturday we sold 30 vintage French magazine covers and advertisements, so that was excellent.  I’ve worked like a navvy to get most of our catalogue of pictures into the shop, and I’m almost there.  This work has really paid off in terms of extra sales, so once I bit the bullet and decided I had to put in the effort it was satisfying to see it work out so well.  But I’ve put out just about as much as Malcolm wants for now, so the rest of my stash – which is still considerable – will go onto the website. 

New in the shop, antique French copper
saucepan and flat lid.  Lids are particularly rare,
but we've just put out three saucepans with lids. 
And yes, they were in the depths of the garage
and should have come out ages ago.  Better
late than never, though, eh?
The website will now shrink to being just jewellery and vintage magazine covers, images and advertisements, at least for now.  If we buy more than Malcolm wants on our next buying trip then the spill-over can go onto the website.  But I’ll be amazed if Malcolm can’t sell everything we can provide – I’m forever having to run home to get new stuff to restock the shelves, and I can’t see why that would change.  But in terms of “my things” I shall photograph lots of pictures and jewellery over the next little while and reconfigure the website to the new streamlined look, and I’ll let you know when it’s done and will welcome your comments on improvements.

A Pentagram.  Maybe Christian,
maybe Wiccan.  Also used in
Masonic symbolism,
I think the most interesting sale since I last wrote was a late medieval bronze ring, dating to about 1550, which had a pentagram on it.  These days pentagrams are often associated with witchcraft, and I know that the witch who bought my big iron French cross-roads cross a few weeks ago would have loved it.  But it was still in a box in my garage when she visited the shop, so the witch missed out.  It sold the day I put it out, but not before generating some interesting responses.  The pentagram was actually a very early Christian symbol representing the five wounds of Christ before it was adopted by the Wicca. 
Every single time I have ever had anything that was associated with witchcraft it has sold instantly, so it’s a real pity that I can’t ring my suppliers at Pagans R Us to get more.  It’s really hard to find genuine items with serious age that feature a pentagram, but I’m always on the lookout.  One lady wanted me to tell her definitely whether the ring had been previously owned by a witch or a Christian, but how would I know?  It’s from 1550.  Either/or was all I could tell her but she wasn’t happy with that answer and I wasn’t sure which one she wanted it to be.  She didn’t look like a witch, but then what do Christians look like?   Either way, she appeared to be a ninny.

Hopefully tomorrow or at least by Saturday an enormous iron cauldron will be coming into the shop – yep it’s been in our garage for yonks – so calling all witches, if you have a fillet of a fenny snake, in the cauldron you can boil and bake to your heart’s content.  I do like the witches’ scene from Macbeth, and once spent some time teaching a friend’s four year old Witch 2’s chant, plus the chorus (sing-along now:  double, double toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble) so she could go to her preschool and totally freak out her teacher.  And that worked admirably, so it was a job well done.  In boring old reality, I expect the cauldron will end up in someone’s garden, although I do know a woman who uses big pots to dye fabrics in, and this would be something she would love over her fire, I’m thinking.  So we’ll see where it ends up.

Martin .... Aston Martin. 
See that modern Uncool Car behind it, totally ruining
the shot?  Stay away from my shop, Uncool Cars.
Meanwhile, non-business life goes on.  Our friends Arfa and Megan visited the shop in their new ride, which is a seriously cool Aston Martin DB-something (can’t remember what).  Unfortunately they couldn’t park directly in front of the shop because some scummy modern car was already there.  I think the park in front of the shop should be permanently reserved for Cool Cars Only, enhancing the entire vintage ambiance, but no, people continue to park Seriously Uncool Cars there.  Have they no shame?  I had a quick sit in the Aston – it’s very squishy in there, and the driver and passenger certainly have to be close friends with only munchkins possible as backseat passengers.  And then I was allowed to turn on the engine via the starter button in front of the passenger.  How nice, I thought, that the passenger gets to decide when they’re going to drive off.
OMG is that a speck of dust??!!!
Another visitor – entirely unexpected – was Polly the Poodle, who had regathered her courage and turned up for another play date with Caleb.  Poh the Little White SomethingorOther just plain refuses to step foot through the door anymore after the thumping she got on the nose from Caleb, so it appears to be curtains for that budding friendship.  So it was nice that Polly came back, even though last time she played with Caleb he grabbed her around the neck, flipped her to the floor, and then when she was well and truly flattened he threw himself on top of her and laid on her in victory. 

Polly gathering her courage to leave the safety
of the lap and touch noses with Caleb.
Of course, Caleb was expecting Polly to behave as Klaatu does when they go into Wrestlemania mode, which is to kick him in the guts, flip him to the ground, put him in a headlock and hold him down until he’s able to wriggle out of the death-grip and try a manoeuver of his own.  The boys have a pre-dinner wrestle in the kitchen every night while their food is being readied – not so convenient to have mad ninjas hurling themselves around the room and using your legs as ambush cover, but they have tremendous fun.  But Polly still doesn’t get that Rough Is Fun and she was very nervous, preferring to sit on her owner’s lap and make occasional nose contact with Caleb, but it was good progress because after their last encounter I thought she’d never come back. 

But no, even when he's showing her his belly
and inviting a game, Polly knows better than to
mix it with Caleb.  In fact, it's probably better to
just look away and pretend he's not there.
Caleb is now 11 months old and is 6kg of pure muscle, and he’s starting to throw his weight around at home as well as during play dates in the shop.  I don’t mind visiting mutts being knocked flat, but at home he’s had a few smacked bums and strict instructions that he has to Play Nice with Calypso in particular, who is his usual squashing victim.  Klaatu can handle him for the most part, and surprisingly so can Mischka, but it’s more fun when your intended victim shrieks and hisses and snarls and then runs off at high speed with you in hot pursuit, and that’s Calypso’s approach to Caleb’s rough-housing.  She’s going to have to give him a good smack if she wants him to stop jumping on her, but in the meantime I’ve made it clear to him that she is under my Personal Protection and if you mess with her you incur the wrath of me.  I did this at around the same age to Calypso herself, who started being too rough for Klaatu (and that’s saying something), and she settled back down very quickly.

This isn't Caleb or Calypso, but it made me laugh
because it could just as well have been.  The
water bottle we bought to discourage attacks on
our nice leather Fler chair have been entirely
ineffectual on the Bengals.
But Caleb is the most stubborn, headstrong pussycat I’ve ever encountered.  Only this week he was being too rough with Artemis and I told him off and picked him up so we could make direct eye contact and there could be no mistaking my ire.  And the little wretch just stared me in the eyes for a good 10 seconds before looking away.  Direct eye contact can be very confronting for a moggie, and it was my intention that he understand he was in trouble and acknowledge that I’m Top Cat and he must do as I bid, that’s done through direct eye contact.  But by golly he challenged me right back, and long enough for me to start thinking Boy he’s getting heavy and what will I do if he doesn’t look away? before he finally broke eye contact. 

Caleb’s actually a real sweetie, but just getting big and very, very strong, and issues of doing as he’s told and not hurting the others must be sorted out before he gets any bigger.  We’re getting there, and I know that his good nature will prevail in the end, but at the moment he moves between being a bolshie bullyboy teenager and then coming and sitting with me and purring and head rubbing and being a schmoozy boy.  Girls are much more sensible and so much easier to deal with.  We all know that.
Apropos of nothing, except to demonstrate how easier girls are to deal with than boys.

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