Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tis the Season for Church Rummage Sales


In addition to smelling fabulous spring flowers and mossy earth this spring--you can certainly smell the sweet musty and invigorating smell of area church rummage sales. They are popping up all over the Fox Valley near my home--and a favourite of antiquers alike.

You may disagree with me--and I am going out on a limb with this--but denomination matters. The type of church that holds the sale can indicate what kind of goods you may find there. Now--I have some authority on this--as I coordinated a sale at an area church for 12 years. It is in my blood.

Church rummage sales are enjoyable--because organizers cannot possibly spend as much time with the items prep as needed--they are quickly processing donations and getting them clean-priced and out on the floor. I think the Brits have the best name--Jumble Sales--as that is what church rummage sales are--children's clothes mixed with old VHS tapes mixed with the odd treasure.

While coordinating a sale for all those years--I decided my mission was to help raise as much money for charity as possible--so I took over the pricing and organizing of the antiques area. And I never bought a thing for myself till the second day of the sale. I figured if I wanted the area dealers to flock to the sale--thy would not come if they knew that an organizer had skimmed off all the treasures ahead of time. Now--I am no paragon of virtue--this practice WOULD KILL ME. But I priced the treasures high--and we would make a good chunk of change. I believed that the household and children's items needed to be priced competitively for the folks who needed the budget stretching help--but the antiques and collectibles that dealers could resell would be well priced.

The best part of organizing a sale --was to skim through the tables of dreck before the sale and locate the hidden treasures that my experience would tell me needed to be on the antique table. Sometimes I would find items and list them on ebay the week of the sale--and raise some serious coin. A few things some to mind--a chintz teapot, a Rookwood vase, sheet music ( we made $70 a piece on some!), an advertising clock and a fabulous Weiss pin. The Weiss piece made $330.00. Cha Ching for charity! It gave me great pleasure to see more than 100 people lined up the morning of the sale--the first wave being dealers and hear them filling their boxes with the goodies. More cha-ching for charity!!

Ok--back to the denomination differences. OK--if you want all things children and non antiques items--good general household for the young family--head to a non-denominational mega church. Stereotypes continuing-- quality general items and good antiques and collectibles can be found with the Methodists and the Presbyterians. They can have aging and graying congregations and the snow birds are unloading good things--and they generally have a strong sense of raising money for charity. I used to think city churches--the old stone kinds are best--but not necessarily. Building does not matter. Donations matter.

But the creme de la creme are the Episcopalians. Stereotypes say they are well off, graying and their sales are full of quality items. I am not sure about that however--I have been to some pretty musty unorganized Episcopal church sales.

One thing I did learn though--sale organization matters. I used to spend time picking through every sale I attended looking for the treasure--but not so much anymore. I don't have the patience to go through the wrenches to find the Rookwood vase. I just can't wade through tables of schmuddle to get a hand embroidered tablecloth. Who wants to pick through stacks of discarded Harry Potter books to find the 1940s illustrated version of "Jane Eyre"? Do I really want to negotiate the sea of plastic flowers and cutsie decorations to find the hidden box of victorian Xmas cards? YOU BET I DO!!!!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Antiques and Cat Poop Don't Mix

If you think it is possible to immediately know if an antique shop is worth your time or full of junk--think again. Some of the junkiest, dirtiest and darkest shops have been the location of some of our best antique finds. And some of the cleanest brightest and well organized have been wall to wall junk.

But there is a rule that we always follow that indicates to us whether we should stay to explore a shop or get back in the car and move on.. There are certain real turnoffs that should not be anywhere near an antique shop, but they frequently are. Real antique shops do not smell like or sell potpourri--and if we get a whiff--we walk right out. Why do some shop owners think that because you like antiques--you must like the items they think are complimentary to them--candles-- or bumper stickers that say "I brake for a flea market" or bags of smelly, acrid, burn your eyes out of the sockets potpourri. Something about cinnamon potpourri in the middle of July that just turns my stomach. Or how about those Glad plug in the electric socket smelly things? I want to browse antiques without my eyes tearing up.

While we're at it--let's expand that nasty list of shop no-nos. If I hear Muzak--I don't stay shopping long. Or if I see beer signs--1970s and 1980s brewery signs--those plastic kind--that shop is not for me. If the shop keeper smells like cigarettes or is smoking one--out the door we go.

How about a roving cat? There really is a shop in Wisconsin that has a smelly pooping cat roaming around the shop. Really. You can be standing looking at something--and that cat twists and turns around your legs. As you walk through the shop--you have to be careful that you do not step in a lovely pile of treasure left by you know who.

Come to think if it--maybe THAT"S the reason for all that potpourri!

Sad Farewell Beautiful Lady of Paris

Adieu Belle Dame.... View from the beautiful blooming park behind the cathedral.