In America, most of us live in a world of plenty. A world of more, better, faster! The 20th and 21st centuries have seen enormous changes and it often feels like it’s never going to stop or slow down, even for a minute.
And I think that’s one of the reasons that vintage and antique items endure. In a world of too much change, too fast, it’s nice when some things simply remain the same.
So I thought I’d take a moment to explore the top three reasons why we all like vintage and antique items so much.
It’s always a treat when someone comes up to our front desk to check out and they’re beaming from ear-to-ear because they’ve found something that’s chock full of nostalgia for them.
We all have those special memories from our childhoods, our family, even from when we first ventured out as adults, that never fail to touch some essential part of us and fill us with warmth and excitement.
For some guys it’s things like sports memorabilia — maybe baseball or football cards of a favorite player, or goofy souvenirs from the team stadium or from a World Series, Super Bowl, or basketball Championship.
Maybe it’s TV and pop culture-based collectibles like lunch boxes and thermoses, old movie posters and celebrity magazines, games that riff off of a show or its characters, or something really nutty like themed bed sheets or a sleeping bag, plastic figurines, or a reel for a Viewmaster.
Or maybe it’s a furnishing or table decor style that evokes a feeling of familiarity, home, safeness, and comfort.
It doesn’t matter what form it comes in, if that particular thing strikes a chord for the person, nothing will stop them from scooping the item up to either add to an ongoing collection, to start one, or simply to be a one-off piece or an oddity that they display to keep that nostalgic feeling alive.
And you’re always going to find something like that in antique and vintage shops.
2. The Hunt
Vintage collectors and antique buyers have a thing for “the hunt.” It’s hard to figure out but Freud might be helpful here!
Either that feeling of wanting to go on the hunt is a modern day substitute for some real, genetic, and primal urge to hunt and haul your catch home, or it’s simply the feeling of hope and possibility that’s aroused when you set out on an antiquing adventure hoping to score your “thing.”
And your “thing” could be as diverse as Civil War era weaponry, Mid Century Modern art and home decor, a Howdy Doody puppet, a horse blanket, or an Art Deco brooch.
Whatever it is you love, and especially if you’re an avid collector of that thing, once you decide to spend a day antiquing in quest of it, that “on the hunt” feeling is sharpened and honed and brought to life. So watch out world!
Even when you come up with nothing — nothing — that’s not enough to discourage you. Because it’s the feeling of being on the hunt as much as it is actually bagging our object of desire, that keeps us going back for more.
Once you’re bitten with the vintage and antique hunting bug, you never give up!
3. The Outrageous Bargain
It doesn’t often happen that, for example, you find a Revolutionary War-era newspaper in a Goodwill and it turns out to be worth up to 18-thousand dollars! Whoo! But when it does — even if the ratio is more modest, like finding something for $5 that ends up being worth $200 — there’s something about a score like that just makes us feel like the gods are smiling on us.
This feeling is particularly strong among vintage and antique dealers.
In fact, there was recently a Netflix Original TV show titled Girlboss about a vintage dealer who does just that — she curries in vintage clothes and thrives on those outrageously obscure finds that she turns into the big bucks. See trailer below (warning, some language):
For most dealers, the work of finding, cleaning, and pricing is more of a steady slog where you kiss a lot of frogs before you find the Prince Charming of amazing — and amazingly profitable — finds. But like the hunt, those unbelievable discoveries, for dealers and collectors alike, help make it all worth while.
Come On In, The Water Is Fine
So if you’ve already got a hankering for the nostalgic, love a good challenge, and can’t resist a bargain, you might just be an antiques and vintage collector inside who’s just waiting to venture out and find your first amazing score.
One thing you can count on is that hitting the antique and vintage stores is always fun, always changing and different, and always a bit of a step into the unknown. But as Delmar says to his fellow cohorts in crime once he’s found his path in life in the Cohen Brothers’ film O’ Brother, Where Art Thou?, “Come on in, boys, the water’s fine!”
And right here and now in our little Southern hamlet, that means come browsing, come shopping, come check it out. We’d love to help you find your heart’s desire!
— Ellen Boden, Proprietress, Staunton Antiques Center