Dinnerware and Treasures from Thrift Stores
My dream for early retirement began with buying a storefront on Main street in a small Texas town. When I saw the For Sale sign in a local building, I was intrigued. Still working a full time job, I had high hopes the store I planned to open would provide enough income to leave the world of corporate pressure.
The seller was the son of the original owner who had operated the old time drug store in the nineteen fifties. In those days, a lunch counter ran along the side wall. The building was a treasure in itself housing the hundred year old original tin tiles beneath the dropped ceiling remodeled in the seventies. Much of the equipment inside like the HVAC unit and the bathroom was in serious need of repair.
Gemini Ranch Collectibles and Furniture
A Fresh Coat of Paint
After we agreed on a price and signed the paperwork, I was eager to clear away the years of dust and junk that remained inside. My friends came to help paint the walls and decorate. While we cleaned, organized and set up displays, we rocked out to the beat of the oldies on a vintage console record player, one of my first purchases for resale.
The Grand Opening was a fun event, hosted by the manager from my day job who served punch and homemade cookies to the customers. All was well. That was until the day of the fire downtown.
Finding bargains can be a lot of fun. Ask the stars of American Pickers who drive across the country seeking "rusty gold and barn fresh treasures". This pastime can become addictive.
This Flare Ware pattern is from the nineteen sixties by Hall China, one of the oldest manufacturers of dinnerware in the United States. The warmer works and the pattern matches my modern holiday gold-trimmed dishes.
Vintage American made dinnerware is one of my favorite things to collect. I have gathered many sets of dishes, found one piece at a time at garage and estate sales, auctions and thrift stores. Bringing these items home and cleaning them up provides a feeling that I'm rescuing a piece of history.
Hull Mirror Brown Teapot
Some of the dinnerware popular in the fifties was the Hull House 'n Garden dishes which came in a variety of colors including turquoise, green, orange and mirror brown with ivory foam trim. The dishes were sturdy, versatile, and oven proof and included serving platters, mixing bowls, teapots and pitchers. I collected an entire set one piece at a time when they could still be easily found. These days finding this pattern is rare.
Burgundy Lace Pattern
Friday nights I would attend furniture auctions featuring French and English furniture items brought in on containers. The auctions would wrap up around midnight and with my pick-up truck loaded, I'd make the hour drive back to Dallas. When I got close to the store, I would call the local police department and ask them for a drive-by while I moved my items into the store. They were always ready and willing to make sure I remained safe at that late hour.
Carnival Glass Amber Iridescent Footed Bowl
On Tuesday nights, there was an auction in Garland where I purchased vintage furniture, dishes, glassware, mirrors and smalls. The auctioneer was a native Texan who was entertaining and had a great sense of humor. He liked to say, "The buzzards are circling," when the bidding got fierce over one item.
Etched Depression Glass Goblets
Two Drawer Mirrored Oak Dresser
I even shopped during my vacation visiting thrift stores like Goodwill, Salvation Army, Donation Station, Friends of Strays, Junior League and anywhere else that looked promising. Shipping items back to Dallas was a regular activity during that week in Florida. I discovered that St. Petersburg and Clearwater are great places to find items. Many retirees who move there downsize their households to get rid of excess items.
Burl Walnut Triple Mirrored Dresser
Ribbon Candy Antique Glassware
Researching Patterned Glass
This patterned glass vase is from the late eighteen hundreds in a pattern known as Ribbon Candy. I found it at estate sale where the seller introduced me to the world of researching vintage items. Her words of advice sent me into a land of discovery.
I purchased many Collector Series books during the late eighties, which listed approximate market values and the history of the pattern. These days, items can be easily researched on line. Values can be determined by checking the latest sales on eBay auctions. Looking at the sold prices is more accurate than checking the list price. An item is only worth what the market will bear.
Tobacco Items and Old Rotary Dial Telephone
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Vintage LP Album - Elvis' G.I. Blues
Jewel Tea Mixing Bowls
English Oak Bookcase
Rookwood Vase from 1907
My best purchase came from a local thrift store for under ten dollars. Comparable Rookwood Items in this style are valued around a thousand dollars. The vase has a distinctive manufacturer's mark on the bottom with the Roman Numerals VII, indicating the year 1907.The embedded letters, KVH, stand for the artist Katherine Van Horne who signed the piece listed in Kovel's Collectible Value Guide.
This is the kind of bargain you might hope to find when shopping. But for me, the hunt for treasure will always be the best part.
Gemini Ranch Collectibles and Furniture
Fire in Downtown
"You'd better get down here," she said. "Downtown is on fire." The midnight phone call came from a neighboring merchant. We sat together on the sidewalk across the street and watched downtown burn. We weren't allowed in our stores, while firefighters from three local stations battled the blaze. Hampton cleaners, next to my store, suffered extensive smoke damage when the candle shop next to them burned completely to the ground. They had no insurance. In the wee hours of the morning, another fire started across the street rendering several more buildings totaled and others with extensive smoke and water damage.
Reconstruction was ongoing for a full year during which businesses like mine dwindled and others closed. The cause of the fire was eventually determined to be faulty electrical wiring. A year after the devastating fire broke out, I closed my business for good.
Fire on the Opposite Side of the Street
© 2012 Peg Cole
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