22 July 2014

Pop Up Stories

Here is a nice French travel
advertisement, just to get me
in the mood as I plan our next
buying trip.  This ad is dated
28 June 1930, is 27x38cm
and is $40.
It’s been 12 months since we closed our retail shop in Eumundi, so for a year I have not encountered the bold and the beautiful and the just plain weird who used to come by to visit me.

But having the Pop Up shop for the last three weeks has brought it all flooding back.

So today an old lady came into the shop.  She walked past a set of four American spindle back chairs with woven cane seats, past a French walnut marble-topped bedside cabinet, past a Honduran mahogany Georgian table that seats six, and positioned herself next to a large English oak coffer.  It’s a beautiful piece that dates to 1750 and is one of the oldest pieces of furniture for sale in Australia right now. 

Does anyone around here sell actual furniture?  she asked.  I pointed to the piece she was standing right next to and said I have actual furniture.  No, she said, I mean real furniture.  I have real furniture, I said, even older than you.  Yeah that was a bit mean, but hey she was dissing my stuff.

The lovely French enamelware has been selling
solidly, so it's definitely on my Must Find List
for next trip.  As long as I get there before the
Americans, I should be fine.

But obviously I need to work on my meanness, because my tart little comment went right over her head.

She sighed loudly and rolled her eyes at my stupidity for not understanding that when she said “furniture” she meant “cheap, nasty, stapled together plywood furniture”. 
I felt my left eyebrow involuntarily rising, I felt my lips pursing, I felt downright meanness coming on.

We have chairs, we have tables, we have chests, we have cabinets, I said.  They are all traditionally regarded as furniture.

You know that we focused on vintage kitchen
ware on our last buying trip, and that was a good
decision because it's proven to be very popular. 
These are a couple of herb cutters, the top
one a quite rare shape, the bottom one more
typical (and probably easier to use).
She looked at me blankly, her mouth working silently.  I just looked at her, with my raised eyebrow.  She was a rude old lady and I wasn’t going to help her out, so I let the silence grow.

Eventually a thought formed – But do you have bookcases? she asked.  Yes, I said.  See that Art Deco stepped bookcase in the window?   That’s a bookcase.  No, she said, I mean a real bookcase.  My right eyebrow had now joined the left; it’s a real bookcase! I replied.

Yes, but I meant a tall bookcase, she said triumphantly.  The conversation may as well have been Guess what number I’m thinking of? with every number I nominated not being right.  If I’d been able to say Ha! Here is a tall bookcase, she would have countered with But I meant a tall, thin bookcase.

Now this is rare - an ad for the
Moulin Rouge, from the days
before they were mostly boobie-
girls with tassels.  This ad is
for La Geisha opera.  It is dated
14 July 1906, 29x40cm, and is $52.
In fact, it became apparent that she wasn’t interested in buying furniture from me (or anyone else) – it was just her way of opening the conversation, which then didn’t go the way she planned because she had failed to notice the variety of furniture she had marched past to get to me.
It turned out that what she actually wanted was for me to give her free valuations of her belongings.  My face was getting a right workout, with the eyebrows now furrowed.  No, was the answer.  Did you guess that was coming?  I owed her no explanation, No, was the only response she was getting. 

She looked at me blankly again, clearly expecting something more.  But I had wasted enough breath on this old chook.  I looked back at her, leaned slightly forward over my desk, and gave her my best Less Than Impressed look.  Without another word she turned tail and walked out.

This is a random shelf photo from the Pop Up
shop.  We have lots of lovely vintage French glass.
The only other You’ve Got to be Joking moment this week was when a couple with their 10 year old son came by for a browse. 

The boy picked up a large carving knife, and drew it across his throat.  A carving knife.  And he didn’t do a pretendy cut-your-throat action, the knife actually made contact with his throat.

I was aghast and quickly stepped forward.  Sweetheart, that’s a really effective way of killing yourself, I said.  He gave me a look that only exasperated 10 year olds can - I know what I’m doing, he replied.  What you’re doing, I said firmly, is coming close to seriously injuring yourself.  It’s a dumb thing to do, so put the knife down right now. 

This is a page from an old atlas, dated 1893.
The map size is 17x21cm, and it's in a frame
of 30x40cm.  It's $64. 
I also have a framed map of Africa from the
same atlas, and it's interesting to see how much
borders have changed in the last 121 years.
The exasperation was replaced with dumbfoundness – he appeared to have never been spoken to in a firm tone before. 
His father turned back from his browsing - What did he do? he asked. He almost cut his own throat with a carving knife, I told him.  Ah, kids, was the nonchalant response.  What, you have some spares at home so you can afford to lose this one? I asked. 
He gave me a smirk and a shrug and I turned back to my desk, abandoning the family to deal with their suicidal genes on their own.

So that was the week that was.  For the most part everyone has been lovely, with lots of welcoming us back to town, even if only momentarily.  We have one week to go before we close, and this has been so successful I will definitely consider doing it again.

In the meantime, we will be back at the Caloundra Street Fair next Sunday, 27 July, with a selection of nice things to show you.
Due to good behavior on her part Calypso has been the only cat coming into the Pop Up shop every day.  It is with much screeching that the boys are left behind every day, but they get over it and snuggle up soon enough.

15 July 2014

Popping Up is Tiring but Fun

Emerald green poison bottles are
always popular.  The colour, the
ribbing and the Not To Be Taken
message stamped on them made
it as clear as possible to the
pharmacist to be careful when
handling the contents.  These days,
interior decorators love them for
their gorgeous jewel colour.
I’m exhausted. 
Who knew that working seven days a week would suck so much?  Actually, it’s not exactly sucky – things are going exceedingly well – but for someone used to phaffing about it’s quite tiring not being able to loll about at will.

Still, only two weeks to go.  Today marks the half-way point in the Pop Up shop, and we are very happy and very amazed at how well it’s been going.  We are bringing in new things to restock the shelves every day, so I’m very happy I bought so much on our March buying trip.

I think I can safely predict there is no prospect that masses of beautiful, colourful French enamelware I bought, that was meant to last us until December, will last until then.  And wow, I bought over 100 pieces of enamelware – you might recall from my blogs in March/April how I thwarted sundry American dealers to get my hands on so much good stuff.

This is a 1927 reproduction of
Degas' famous Dancers in Blue.
I'm cataloguing this and other
vintage pictures to present in the
Pop Up shop later this week.
But good stuff, at wholesale prices, sells very well it turns out.  So I’ll have to go hunting again.  And with the right location, the right landlord (not a delusional one) and the right timing we will definitely do a Pop Up shop again.

I know I’m not very chatty lately, but I’ve been busy unpacking, cleaning, waxing, polishing, cataloguing, describing & pricing things every day.  So this is just a quickie update today.

I’m currently working on cataloguing some vintage French advertisements, covers and images, and today I brought out the three fabulous French flower and fruit drying racks I was so happy to find (see my blog from 26 April 2014 for just how pleased I was, and why) - and sold them all today.
I have only 3 lead-light windows left.  This one
has a beautiful rich red and cobolt blue
centre.  It's from Kent, and at $52 is less than
half the price I used to charge in my retail shop.

Yet more enamelware has to make an appearance – there has barely been a day when we haven’t sold enamelware, and the last of the round, wooden Jamie Oliver boards will be out this week.  We’ve already sold out of the big dough troughs, and I have only three round boards to go.  There are more big, rectangular Jamie Oliver boards to come, mostly because I haven’t gotten around to waxing them and bringing them to the shop yet, but I’ll get there.
If you have a chance, you can visit my Facebook page for updates every few days of what I'm featuring.  Try this link - even if you don't have a Facebook account it should work - or just go to Continuum Antiques. 

I have a great selection of Midwinter ceramics out in the Pop Up shop.  Midwinter is my favourite mid-20th century pottery.  The spotty cups and saucers are called Red Domino, the Zebra striped are called Zambesi, and the coffee pot is Graphix.  The black cups with spotted saucers are interlopers by Meakin, but still nice.

04 July 2014

Can selling at wholesale prices work? Well, yes.

Caleb cooperating momentarily
with a press photographer.  Not his
best angle, but the best that could
be managed given his naughty behavior.
It's official that our Pop Up shop is the only antiques shop in the country selling at wholesale prices direct to the public.  Yay for not having massive expenses!  Everyone is happy, and we've been selling well every day.
Day Three saw Caleb recommence managerial duties and he was one unhappy vegemite, let me tell you.
I had Calypso in for Days One and Two, and again here today for Day Four.  After some initial hesitancy in a new environment, she quickly remembered that she loves being Shop Manager.  When she isn’t lounging around on my lap, she’s been striking I’m-drop-dead-gorgeous poses for her new legions of fans to photograph.  She won’t sit still for me to photograph her today, though.  If I’m in range, I’m there to be sat on.
But Caleb wanted none of that.  He’s two years old now, and for the last year has enjoyed running amok, being entirely indulged and more-or-less his own boss.  I knew that something had to be done to bring him into line, but unless I physically chain him to me it’s hard to find the time needed to impose the discipline he needs.
We provide a one-stop coffee service - you can
have a fabulous French coffee grinder, followed
by a fabulous Italian stove-top coffee maker.
We even have the espresso cups and saucers.
But now I have time and the chain.  So it was on.
When he was a baby and first came to our old shop, for the first little while there were nonstop tantrums and pussycat meltdowns when he realized he had to do as I say and not as he wanted.  And it was loud – way loud – but kind of cute having this very assertive Alpha kitten screech his lungs out while telling me off.

But now he weighs 7kg, and his screeching also includes a good selection of deep, guttural growls and bare-your-fangs-and-look-like-you-mean-it snarls and hisses. 

Royal Worcestor is an extraordinarily good
English ceramics brand.  This blue dragon
cake plate dates to about 1940 and is $35.
But guess what?  I weigh more than 7kg – how rude of you to wonder just how much more – and I’m not one bit scared of screeching or growling or hissyfit snarling.  Plus I had tasty bribes in my arsenal and a determination to outlast one petulant pussycat.

So in the end Caleb settled down on the bed I made for him on my desk, and decided he wanted to be a good boy afterall.  Once we establish that he really is a good boy and this isn’t a cunning plan designed to lure me into prematurely trusting him, he will be allowed more freedom to sit where he wants.  Until then it’s My Shop – My Rules. 

This is a large floral embroidery on one of
the giant French linen sheets that have started
to come into the Pop Up shop from today.
In addition, it has a white embroidered
monogram & a ladder-stitched border.  It's $100.
The dimensions are 200cm x 296cm -
just how tall are you?
It’s good for boys of all species to learn that the primary female in their lives is She Who Must Be Obeyed At All Times.  It’s something Caleb grew used to ignoring (I wonder where he learned that, Doug?) so our time together will be good for both of us.  Having an out of control 7kg Bengal isn’t good for anyone.

The Editor of the local Eumundi newspaper came by to welcome us back to town and get some photos of me and the shop.  Naturally, I was having a bad hair day – all that lovely straightened hair I got in Bangkok the trip before last is growing out so it’s back to unruly curls and frizz.  But Caleb was looking beautiful and for once kind of cooperated with a photographer, so hopefully it will be him and not me staring out of the pages when it’s published.
Calypso will usually strike a pose for a
photograph, but today if I'm in range I
must be sat on.

Today it’s back to me and Calypso, and after his practice run yesterday Caleb will make his first grand appearance as Shop Manager tomorrow (5 July) for the Saturday Market Day in Eumundi.  Polly the Poodle is coming in for a reunion visit, so it should be fun.  Or a fur-flying disaster.  We’ll see.
If you'd like to see more photos of the stock we're bringing in, you can visit our Facebook page, Continuum Antiques.  
(try this:   

02 July 2014

Living a Pop Up Existence

Calypso snoozing in the sunshine at home,
enjoying the leisurely life, blissfully unaware
that Shop Duties await her.
You know, it’s quite easy to get used to a leisurely life. 
I know when we’re on buying trips we travel far and wide, and have to get up much earlier than is natural.  But that’s only for a month or so, once or twice a year. 
And Sunday mornings at the Markets have become an exercise in operating on auto-pilot, bleary-eyed and yawning nonstop until the sun comes up.
Enamelware and nice glass
in the Pop Up shop.
But as a general rule, for every other day of the week, our life has become quite leisurely.  Down-right cruisey.
So I know, let’s open a Pop Up shop! 
Forget cruisey - I have spent the last week and a half in OMG-mode, trying to get as much stock as I can unpacked, cleaned, waxed, polished, priced and tagged.  I still don’t have near enough ready, but sufficient that we made a good showing on opening day.
And anyway, who wants too much of a leisurely life? 
We’ll be bringing in new things pretty well every day, but seeing how we’re only going to be open for a month I want to get as much as possible in within the first week or so.
More enamelware and nice ceramics.
It’s been exciting getting things out and remembering where we bought them.  On Saturday afternoon we started to bring in the first of the stock boxes and large wooden items – Jamie Oliver boards, a dough trough, printers tray, etc.  And already, piled up against the wall of the shop, they were stopping people in the street. 
We opened on 1 July, and so far so good.  If we can’t sell at wholesale prices in a retail outlet, we might as well give up now.  I had a large, fabulous Arts & Crafts era English oak table that I put $70 on.  Yes, that is an utter, utter bargain.  I told everyone that if I couldn’t sell it within opening week, I would eat it.  So yay that I sold it on Day 2 - there's only so much fibre a girl needs.
Even more enamelware, glass
and ceramics.  There are some
lovely pieces, if I say so myself,
that I won't bring to the Markets.

Now I can bring out a few other pieces of furniture that have been sitting in my shed for a long time, which I can’t take to the Markets and I don’t want to make the effort to take to auction.  So the shop shall be Furniture Bargain City for the next month, in addition to the newly arrived stock.
I’m really looking forward to styling the window, changing it every week as the whim takes me.  That's something I've missed.  I’ve started with a maritime theme this week, with the Italian end-of-day glass fish, anchors, ship’s wheels and pulleys and the like.  Next, I think I might do a window of French Kitchenware. 
If you’re in or near Eumundi on a Monday, feel free to come and play Stylist with me – it’s fun!

Calypso remembering that she quite enjoyed being the much admired Shop Cat. 
From tomorrow for the next few days it will be Caleb in the chair, and I am anticipating some pussycat tantrums as he gets used to being attached to me nonstop and having to do as I say.