I’m getting ready to dash off to another exciting auction and I’m on the prowl for fun, interesting, and compelling pieces to bring back for you, our loyal customers. But before I hit the road I thought I’d share a few words about why curation is important in the antiques and vintage resale world.
Now don’t get me wrong, I can have some serious fun buying a “surprise box” at an auction where there’s one thing I know I want but I have to buy the whole “lot” to get it. So I plunge in because I DO want that ONE thing and I roll with it on the rest. Sometimes it’s a success, sometimes it’s a bust.
Same thing with the kind of antique shop where everything is piled sky high, precariously balanced and coated in dust. If you’re in the mood for digging, or what Mike Wolfe of American Pickers calls “picking,” then you might just have the time of your life, and light onto the find of your life. It does happen.
What Am I looking At?
But for most customers out there who love vintage and antique goods, it’s not so much the picking, but more the actual finding exactly what they’re looking for (or something in that category) that makes the hunt most worthwhile.
And that’s why I place a premium on curation, as do the majority of our vendors at the Staunton Antiques Center.
What curation means is not only that we find wonderful and often valuable pieces from the past in categories as diverse as furnishings, home accessories, jewelry, paper ephemera, advertising signage, industrial gear, pop culture, and distinct design movements. It also means that we research these items to learn more about where they come from, who made them, and what their significance is in the march of history and/or culture.
And then one final cherry is added to the sundae of good “pickings….” and that is displaying the found items nicely so that customers can easily see what we’ve got and the condition it’s in without getting too dusty or mucky! We save dustiness and muckiness for the first stage pickers like Mike Wolfe and some of us! But when you come into the store, we like most of our offerings to be clear and easy to see, easy to touch, and if necessary, easy for our register gals to access from behind lock and key or from a high place that’s out of reach.
Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!
Now again, don’t get me wrong. With over 40 vendors I have to say that a few in our shop like offering that “dig into this box” or “move everything on this shelf” vibe because you think you see something behind something or under something and you just HAVE to find out what it is. So if that’s your thing, trust me, you’ll find some of that here, too.
And any trip through and antique shop is an adventure — even places that curry in very limited stock, say, only 18th century antiques, or only estate jewelry, or only Civil War/military goods, still can’t keep utterly predictable stock on hand. In the antique and vintage world nothing is more true than that everything is always changing all the time, passing through many hands before arriving on shelves and then going home with you.
That’s what makes antique picking, antique collecting, antique hunting, and antique shopping such an adventure — you never know what you’ll find except an adventure of discovery, things to make you think, things that make you say, “huh, what’s that?” or “WOW!”
And talk about a cheap but romantic date. Take a prospect or sweetheart antique shopping and I guarantee you’ll have plenty to talk about, laugh about, wonder about. It’s just plain fun.
We make it especially fun by curating our shop for you so that every time you come, it is an adventure. So come on in and less us entertain you!
— Ellen Boden, Proprietress, Staunton Antiques Center