Sunday, May 30, 2010

The best antiques

are old friends.
This is on a sign that my best friend sent to me to hang in my shop...and it is so true. Stuff is everything, but your "BFF" is priceless.

Last week, my best friend Peggy and I did our biennial jaunt to New York City. We had to postpone it 2 years ago because her breast cancer had moved to Stage IV, but, with new medicine, she is stable, and we were able to go on our "Tacky Tourist NYC Tour" (we usually try to have a theme behind the trip). We had worked together when we lived in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area, and she moved to Florida, and we moved to New Jersey nearly 20 years ago, but the phone has kept us in constant contact. Our previous trip was cancelled after we had paid for the hotel...the Marriott Renaissance on Times Square. The women who worked there were gracious, and they refunded our deposit, and they kept in touch with Peggy and her daughter Dana who is a true "event co-ordinator." Here she is moments after arriving with a Times Square policeman...these guys are all sweet. I always feel safe in this big city!

So, when they learned we were coming back, here is the greeting that she received on Broadway! Diane and Jennifer of the Marriott provided this memorable event for Peggy.

We started our first day with the typical NYC wandering. Lunch at Serendipity...
home of the FRROZEN hot chocolate...yes, spelled with 2 r's, and you can call ahead and order a $1000 sundae also (we passed on that but not the frozen hot chocolate with 3 straws.)

Down the street from Serendipity is Dylan's Candy about sugar rush street. Dylan is Ralph Lauren's daughter (if you indulged, you would never zip up a Lauren design though!) This is Dylan in jellybeans!!!

Then, we decided to walk off some of our indulgences and headed back downtown. We came to Central Park where the traditional
meets the modern
and even ran into a "shabby chic" pigeon!
Speaking of chic, at The Plaza entrance we were asked to take a photo of 4 British women from York (not "new" as one said), England. How cute are they?

Here is a Bergdorf window...they always have themes...this month...“American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity” show by The Costume Institute. The show is running at The Metropolitan Museum of Art from May 5 through August 15, 2010.
Peggy and her daughter Dana are active in current issues. Dana is into animal rights like I fact, she is taking a course on how to clean wildlife in case this oil spreads to the Florida coast. Peggy is into politics 24/7!
The Central Park side featured "Sex in the City" (of course, everything was SITC!!)

Now, a real chuckle headed down 5th Avenue was Abercrombie and Fitch! Yikes! Talk about sex and the city...hunks model and do a meet and greet at the door...the bare chested hunk was posing inside for pics!Funny though the British ladies showed up here! They might be staying at the Plaza, but they managed to find their way down the street to Abercrombie! Inside though I did find a less than stellar masculine specimen...
New York is home to some magnificent churches. Everyone know St. Patrick's, but there are many others. I thought this sign was rather telling for the current state of affairs.

Just the signs of NYC alone are worth a post...the Father's Day sign faces the former WTC pit.

I realize this is a long post...and you have not been to the Top of the Rock, across the Brooklyn Bridge or down to the Financial District, not to mention Broadway shows, so we will let you wander back to the hotel and relax. Then we will resume the tour later!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

New York, New York

“They say life's what happens when you're busy making other plans. But sometimes in New York, life is what happens when you're waiting for a table.”
Carrie Bradshaw

And this is where I am...probably waiting for a table...I shall return next week...sights and scenes from the Big Apple...

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Random thoughts on shopping...

It is the end of the semester. Finals have been read; grades are posted; and the season at the shore is about to begin. But, I always pay attention to the students' comments on the end of semester evaluations I have them do. I am constantly trying to keep up with the changes in their lives...their culture. And that got me to thinking about my shop.

For those of us in the secondary selling world, we are indeed the ultimate recyclers. I was thinking what will be in small shops 100 years from now...will a small shop even exist...look around at what is being sold today and picture it in shops of the future. Made in China? Dollar store trinkets? "Tarjay" furniture? You have to remember the Five & Ten was the precursor of the Dollar Store so you cannot pooh-pooh the idea.

I found a wonderful fur hat with a Bergdorf Goodman label...

...for those not familiar...a traditional department store in New York City.
But my thought is still ~ will the small shop survive? Will the department store even be able to hold on? So many small shops have closed or are closing in this current economic hurricane as well as some traditional department stores--this area has seen the demise of Lit Brothers, Gimbel's, Wanamakers, but have tastes changed? Is "fashionista," the TJ Maxx/Marshalls shopper, the wave of the future? Walmart keeps trying to adjust its image so it may have some issues as well. Is shopping a lost art? You can come to this screen, google, point, click, and shop with no problems. Texting replaces phone calls; screens replace printed pages; online replaces lifeline.

What amazes me is that people will pay hundreds of dollars to be connected via air...cable, cell, computer...yet, when it comes to buying some concrete thing, they will become the ultimate bargain shoppers, not viewing the experience as a happening so to speak.

I look at a stash of costume jewelry that I got at auction, and I think...the women who wore these necklaces got them at department stores. A sales woman probably helped her try it on...commented on how it looked...and sold it to her. Unlike today, where you spin the rack, pick one, and move on. But, in a small shop, you can relate to the person who walks in. As our season begins, and the summer houses are opened, we renew acquaintances...we talk about health, wealth, shopping is more than buying something. It is the lifeline.

Maybe you don't have small shops or cafes near you, but, if you do, you know what it is like to walk into a store where you are a person, not merely a customer. There are people who are trying to save the Brick & Mortar independents...the 3/50 Project is one...their research showed that "if just half the employed U.S. population spent $50 each month in independently owned businesses, their purchases would generate more than $42.6 billion in revenue." And for "every $100 spent in independently owned stores,$68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll, and other expenditures. If you spend that in a national chain, only $43 stays here. Spend it online and nothing comes home." They have added "Eat down the street" to their campaigns also.

So, just some random ramblings about shopping this week...I know I look forward to seeing the summer crowd meeting new getting out to the flea markets...the farm thaw out after the winter that was!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

My wisteria bloomed spectacularly this year obviously loving the blizzards of winter.
It is fading a bit now, but I thought it was appropriate for a Mother's Day post. It is a member of the pea family, and it does not bloom if fertilized excessively. Wisteria vines climb by twining their stems either clockwise or counter-clockwise round any available support.
Reminds me of how children cling to their mothers, but, if that mother is excessive in her care, the child nevers develops to bloom on his or her own.

So, for all the mothers reading, support your children, but let them bloom on their own!And, Happy Mother's Day!

Sunday, May 2, 2010


Around here O.C. can mean Ocean City, NJ...

or Ocean City, MD,

or there was a TV show The O.C.on Fox a couple years ago... But, in the antique world, OC is Occupied Japan...although this is a collectible that has lost some punch as we drift farther away from the WWII events. (But looking at the new price guides...much of the market for all things has lost close to 70% of value!)

Anyway, I was always fascinated by the "occupied" mark because, if you look at enough pieces, you can see the resentment of that mark. For those who are not aware, from 1945-1952, items imported from Japan to the United States had to be marked in a fashion indicating they came from Occupied Japan.

Japan was occupied by the Allied Powers, led by the United States along with Australia, India, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Japan had never been occupied by a foreign power in its history which dates back to 30,000 BC.

Although four different marks were used during this time ("Japan," "Made in Japan," "Occupied Japan," and "Made in Occupied Japan"), only the last two marks guarantee the pieces were made in the Occupied Japan time frame. For serious Occupied Japan collectors, it is items with these two marks for which they search.

I have read that in a box of ceramic wares, workers would purposely not stamp a couple pieces out of spite...understandable. What made me think of this mark were a pair of little shelf sitters I got in an auction lot...look at the woman's eyes...the paint has been dripped as though she is crying. Maybe it is just my literary imagination, but I imagine their pride was seriously impacted.

So, when you see an Occupied Japan mark, remember that there was a person who painted that and stamped that label on there and what was behind that label.