Thursday, April 28, 2011

one person's junk

You know the rest, right? ( another person's treasure.) All taste is personal, but I think vintage is especially so. Like when I was brainstorming with Lisa about the giveaway on her blog I fretted that it would be hard to find something with broad appeal. We settled on a sweet apron that got a lot of love in the Etsy shop, and  a candle that comes in a reusable container. (And was that a sexist choice? Was it okay to assume a woman would win? And do I ask a lot of questions?) A vase might have worked too, but even that is tricky. I have a lot of vintage pottery in my store in the Catskills. I thought it would be popular, but that hasn't been the case.

Take this painting:

I got a box of old Adirondack frames at auction about a month ago, which I was thrilled about, and this was in there--the only picture. When I got home I took a good look at it, and oh my, I fell in love.

But I decided to be good and put it up in the Etsy store, because I want to fill it with things that people will fall in love with, and if I feel that way surely someone else will too, right? So I took a bunch of pictures and started writing the description and so forth and when I was choosing pictures this

scratched area really jumped out at me. Like maybe it's a ding or two beyond "in good vintage condition" or even "shows some wear, but that only adds to its vintage charm". And then I saw some damage to the frame I hadn't noticed. One of the leaves was broken.  And none of this bothered me in real life, but looking at the pictures I freaked out thinking people would say I was trying to sell them junk.

Or was that just an excuse so I could keep it?


Wednesday, April 27, 2011


 I love sneakers. I'm talking old-fashioned sneakers--not running shoes or cross-trainers or anything with a sole thicker than my thumb. (Though yes, I have those, but I don't love them.) Anyway ... every year I buy a new pair or two--always k*ds. My navy ones are now my painting shoes, and the really cute green and blue plaid ones are pretty beat up. I'm thinking about getting chambray blue, and also something fun and girly.

I love these pink gingham sweeties:
And how cute are these calicos?

I heard that you can tell a lot about a person by the shoes they wear. 
So now you know all about me.

What are your favorite shoes?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

the store, stepping back (and a giveaway)

I opened the Country Weekend store 6 months ago, in October. It was a very impulsive thing to do. And I have not been there for the past 4 weeks! I was worn down by the long drive, the constant snow and ice, moving stuff from my car to the second floor, and slooow sales (now I know why so many stores there close in winter). Fortunately Harriet watches the store when I can't be there, so I visited family in Vermont and New Jersey, got the Etsy store going, and did a little reflecting on how this started.

  •  In June, I started thinking about taking a space in an antiques cooperative.
  • In July I looked at the store I'm now in, which my friends were vacating as they moved to a bigger store in the same building. It was 535 square feet for $400 a month, heat included--a bargain, so close to New York City. In a small town in the Catskills where we have a weekend house, but 240 miles from my primary residence. Inside an old mercantile, divided into several shops.
  • In August I said why not? I signed a lease that would become effective in September, and started going to auctions and filling up the garage.

I thought up a name, got liability insurance, found someone to make signs (more on her later), called the electric and phone company, worked on a logo, and oh so much more. I opened Columbus Day Weekend.

I went up almost every weekend from September to January and spent a full week there in October. There is not a more beautiful place to spend autumn. Not exactly a hardship post. This is what I look at when I have my morning coffee.

Sales were great through Christmas. People loved it and I had a lot of fun. Then winter hit hard. It started snowing and it seems like it didn't stop until about two weeks ago. But now it's spring, even in New England and upstate New York, and I am looking forward to going back this weekend.

I have made new friends in the store and because of the store. One of them is Lisa, who made my signs.
I bought a couple of her signs for myself before I even thought about the store. You can see the Cottage one at the back of the above display. I loved her work, so when I was planning the store I contacted her and she made all the signs for me.

Outside the store.
And on the front and back staircases.

Lisa is super-talented, creative and energetic.  In addition to signs, she paints and upcycles furniture and decorative items. She sells some of them in her Etsy store, Serendipity Chic Decor.  She has a wonderful blog, Serendipity Chic Design where she offers tutorials on the things she makes. She's very generous with sharing her expertise and has built a huge following in a short time. She also has a great sense of humor and a lovely family whose adventures she shares occasionally. If you hop over to her post you will see she is featuring my stores and blog and hosting a giveaway from me this week. She has been very supportive of my various endeavors and I really appreciate it.


Sunday, April 24, 2011


I opened an Etsy shop a month ago, but I was a buyer for years before that. I spent a lot of time window-shopping. If I was in a bad mood, browsing sometimes put me in a better one--it was heartening to see all the marvelous things that people across the country (world) were creating and finding. I'd save things in my favorites, maybe to buy one day, but also just to look at.



 I found treasuries especially inspiring. Treasuries (in case you don't know) are a visual gallery of 16 thematically related items.  The front page always features a treasury that changes periodically, but you can click on "Treasury" on the lower left side of the home page and browse them chronologically, or do a search of thousands of treasuries. Type in "blue" or "boyfriend" or Mothers day" (or anything) and see what pops up.

Sorry to sound like an ad for Etsy, but I started making treasuries recently, and it's fun. You don't have to be a seller; if you're registered as a buyer you can make one too. (And to register as a buyer you just need to give an email address, user name and password.)

The first one I created using the theme, Read To Me. I was thinking about how much I loved reading to my children when they were little. (Some of the pictures are missing. Maybe those items got sold?) Anyway, here it is.

I've made two that are related by color. I think they are the best from a visual, aesthetic viewpoint. They are blue, green, and a touch of pink and gray, blue, and white. Between them I made awaiting summer. I was in Vermont and cold when I made it. The most recent one was all vintage. I titled it vintage = earth friendly. I should have spent more time on it. For some reason doing all vintage was harder.

Have you ever made an Etsy treasury? And what about Pinterest--has anyone tried that?


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

gray, blue, white

like the ocean

                                                                                       vase here

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

folk art cows

My store in the Catskills is in dairy farm country. There used to be hundreds of family owned dairy farms. Now, sadly, just a few. There is plenty of farm paraphernalia to be had at auctions. But I've never seen anything like these, which I got at an auction in Massachusetts. The same one where I got the toy soldiers.
They are full of character,

made out of wood and heavy and look kind of Indian. I think it's the red dots.

 I don't know what stories they have to tell.

Don't know whether I'll sell them. 
A person will have to be crazy crazy about them for me to let them go.

Do you see the hand shape on the side and the sun on the hump?

So sweet, so interesting, aren't they?


Monday, April 18, 2011

the wild west of selling

One of the things I like about owning a store is how unregulated it is. It's practically anarchy! Especially selling vintage and antique items. I can price them however I want. Okay (you may ask) how are prices set for antiques and vintage items? Well ...there are several factors go into that calculation. None of them precise.

The biggest factor is how rare is it? The rarer it is the higher the price. 

Then, what condition is it in? The better the condition, the higher the price.


Location-- Take an item. Put it in 3 different stores: my little store in the Catskills, an upscale suburban store and a Manhattan store. Something I sell for $35 could easily go for double that in the suburb and triple or even quadruple that in Manhattan. Of course their overhead is a lot higher than mine is and they have a lot more customers. (The village my store is in has a population of about 600 people and it's the biggest town for 20 miles in any direction.)

Geography-- Things that are hot in Los Angeles might be cool in Atlanta. My customers are buying for their farmhouses and cabins so what they are looking for is generally different than what someone who lives in a loft or ranch house might like. So if I loaded my store up with mid-century modern I'd probably be in trouble. fast do you want it to move? My philosophy has been to price on the low side 1) to make my customers happy and 2) to keep things fresh. However, that makes more work for me since I have to replace it with something.  And....what are comparable things in the same area being sold for? 

I find that price guides aren't much help. They are invariably too high for my location.  Sometimes I just ask myself what I would pay. Sometimes I just mark it some some percentage above what I paid and hope for the best. 

So the answer is, there is no answer. It's the Wild West--no rules.

What do you think about all this? 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

porches and children

A chilly spring night in Vermont. Spent a few days with my youngest, Luke (19) and am going home tomorrow, so happy and sad. He lives in a wooden house with a small front porch (that pretty much describes all the houses here and they are all full of students). He has 2 chairs on the porch and is so happy that the snow has finally melted. I love porches. Our house in New Jersey where we lived for 15 years had a huge one and it was the best room in the house. Our house in Massachusetts and the one in the Catskills have decks but it's not the same. So I was thinking about porches and started to make an etsy treasury about porches but moved off the porch a bit. Awaiting Summer.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

who am I? asks the blog

                                                    View from the porch of a house in Hull, Massachusetts, that I once rented for the winter, shows 
                                                    some of my favorite things: porches, flowers, and bodies of water.

Sarah at Modern Country Style, had the interesting idea of asking people to define their blog today. A good exercise, I think. I started my blog two months ago to:
1. Post about the nuts and bolts of opening and running a small antique/vintage/crafts store. I thought that might be interesting/useful for people who dream about opening a bricks and mortar store of their own one day. I have done this a little bit, very randomly.

                                              Country Weekend, the store.

2. Post about things relevant, least somewhat, to what the store is about--nature, history, antiques and art, and where it is located--in the Catskill region of upstate new York. I thought that some of my customers there might enjoy that, though I don't think any of them read it yet.

                 View from my house in the Catskills.

I opened an Etsy store a couple weeks ago, so want to post things of interest to Etsy folk that connect to the above topics.

                                             Trying to figure out how to take a good picture of the scottie dog, to put on Etsy.

And occasionally I want to write about other things--books or music or sports or cookies, or post a picture or poem or music video because I like it and maybe you will too.

                                                                                                           outside artist's studio, Bluffton, South Carolina

I don't do Facebook or Twitter--I just can't deal with any more distraction-inducing stuff--I like to turn it off sometimes, you know? So this is my major electronic connection (outside of emails) with the big world. Don't know if it will catch on, since I'm not providing how-to tutorials or recipes or anything practical. But as long as I'm enjoying it, I'll keep doing it.

                                            Lobster traps, Menemsha, Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts

I'm off to Burlington Vermont to visit my son Luke. Enjoy your day!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

toy soldiers

I got these soldiers at the auction last week.
They're hand-carved from clothespins. Their arm and rifle are glued on.

Some are battlefield casualties.

It was a big auction--600 + lots. They were in a box, kind of hidden away. It was getting late, most people were gone, and the auctioneer did requests--we got five minutes to bring up things we wanted put up. Whatever was left would go at the next auction. I brought up the box of soldiers and won them. I photographed them to put in the etsy store and spent some time looking for something similar on the internet. I couldn't find anything and wasn't sure how to price them.

I took a look at the box. The top is broken and I hadn't paid attention to it. I was debating whether to include it in the etsy listing, because it would really increase the shipping cost. I had noticed that Bob's Soldiers was written in pencil. Then I looked closer. (Click on the pictures to enlarge.)

Does that say 1860?

Yes it does. 

Bob's Soldiers
Made by him

1860 was one year before the start of the Civil War. So now what do I do with them? EDIT I would love to donate them to a small New England museum, if I find one that wants them.

Sometimes I wonder why I'm doing this. Then something like these guys come along, and I remember. It's the history and stories and people. Bob making his soldiers 150 + years ago. No internet, tv, radios, planes, cars, electric lights or phones. The transcontinental railroad was not completed. Just him and a knife and some clothespins, somewhere in New England, making toy soldiers.

What do you think I should do with them?


Sunday, April 10, 2011

blue, green and a touch of pink


I made a new treasury on etsy: blue, green and a touch of pink. You know--sunsets and succulents and pretty things. I am in love with it. It's true.


                                                                                                                      Woman at the Window by Caspar David Friedrich, 1822

I love windows. And I'm sure I'll be writing more about that on other days. But today I'd like to be in Manhattan at the show that just opened at the Met: “Rooms With a View: The Open Window in the 19th Century”.  It's a small show, exploring " the open window as a favored motif of certain Romantic painters — mostly German, Scandinavian or French". (All quotes from the New York Times review by Roberta Smith.)

I especially love that all the windows are open.

                                                                                                                             Woman Embroidering by Georg Friedrich Kersting, 1811
The show is small--31 paintings and 22 works on paper. Several are artists in their studios.

                                                                                                                                     The Painter Friedrich Mathai in his Studio, Kersting 1812
"As seen here, the window often is the focal point for a certain poignant, implicitly Romantic yearning, functioning as an interface between near and far, known and mysterious, private and public, art and nature." 

You can see more pictures from the show here

Enjoy your day--

Thursday, April 7, 2011

post post

At auctions, postcards almost always sell for crazy money. Some items really get the bidding going: duck decoys, whirligigs, anything the auctioneer calls folk art. When postcards come up I go for coffee. One day though, I got a big box of them for very little $ so I could see why.  This is what I saw (click on the pictures to enlarge):

How beautiful some of them are.

That they are snapshots of history.
 Hotel architecture for example:

Then there are the messages:

New Hampshire 1909. Is she a teacher at a one-room schoolhouse? 
Does she live in the wilderness and go to town for the school year? Is she going to college?
Where they ate:

Where is it that he cannot get home from?

I would stay there too.

Enjoy your day.