I always like to give folks a taste of what’s inside the antique shop at any given time and so I’ve decided to make interviewing our vendors a priority in the blog. This week I’m focusing on Alice, a long-time vendor who’s also one of our wonderful register gals, meaning she works the front desk several times a month.
And Alice is just such an infectiously joyful person that it’s a delight to give her booths a shout out!
Ellen: Tell us about what you like to find and feature in your booths?
Alice: I love EVERYTHING!
I’m a huge fan of Mid Century furniture and glassware of the 1950s-60s. It was such a swanky era.
I also collect and sell McCoy Pottery.
But really, to stay in the business, I need to focus on what buyers want. Sometimes it’s hard to tell so I try to find unique collectibles in great condition that are also useful in the home.
Lately I’ve been looking for aqua glass insulators since people are re-purposing them into lights.
The Empire Strikes Back
Ellen: How many booths do you have?
Alice: Too many! One large booth is strictly Mid Century Modern, designed to look like a home and not a booth.
Ellen: She’s right! It could almost be mistaken for a set on Mad Men!
Alice: Other booths are chock full of fun things.
Ellen: How long have you been buying and selling antiques and vintage goods?
Alice: My husband and I used to go regularly to auctions before we had children. I fell back into it after they grew up and moved out and had kids of their own. I had more time. Now it is almost a full-time avocation.
Ellen: What made you jump into this industry?
Alice: I have always loved researching, and a big part of the business is discovering cool items, cleaning them and finding out what and how old they are.
For example, I’m selling a mini fedora on Ebay that I thought was a Disney doll hat. Turns out it was made by Disney New York Company hat makers. The mini version was given out with a gift certificate enticing customers to buy the real thing. Who knew?
Ellen: That sounds fun — promotional items are a sub culture unto themselves in the antiques world.
Any changes you’ve seen over the years in doing antique buying and selling?
Alice: BIG changes!
Many of the true collectors are getting older and are either down-sizing or they have everything they want. The younger generation is interested in decor, but not necessarily antiques. My parents collected gorgeous cut glass in the 1980s. Who wants cut glass now? Nobody.
Ellen: Well, you never know. It astounds me the rich variety of interests people have and how we’re always selling that unexpected thing for that person who just has to have it.
What can you share with us about life outside the Antiques Center — family, former job, etc.
Alice: I retired from teaching five years ago, and finally retired from writing last year. I have written and published over 60 children’s books, which kept me busy!
Ellen: (Alice won’t toot her own horn but she wrote several books for the American Girl Doll series of books.)
Alice: Now I have a grandson who keeps me busy (and a second on the way). So being a grandma fills in the time when I am not out ‘hunting’ for the next treasure.
Ellen: Well we sure like having you here at Staunton Antiques, Alice. Your sunny personality lights up the front desk when you’re on duty as a register gal and you’ve got so many fun and quirky and elegant and unique “littles” in your booths, along with all the great Mid Century Modern pieces that you bring into the shop.
It’s great to have you be a part of our little vintage and antiques community. And I know our customers love your stuff, too!
— Ellen Boden, Proprietress, Staunton Antiques Center
For more information on antique shopping in Staunton and the greater region, download my FREE e-book A Digital Guide to Antique Shopping in the Staunton, Augusta, Waynesboro Region.
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