Friday, February 4, 2011

Vintage Sleuth Appreciation Day

I got an e-mail today that was a bit crass & tactless, making me a cheap offer on a piece I was selling. It sounded as if I were being offered a great favor. It's not worth what you're asking, he implied, but let me take it off your hands.

I declined.

And, I'm afraid, not without a bitter edge to my polite response.

The good news is, I stopped & considered how many people (on Etsy, on Artfire, on their own!) are trying to make a living doing what they love, selling vintage.

It Isn't New
Vintage is not for everyone. Vintage is used. GASP! Yes, dear, it's used, by someone else in another era, another lifetime, city, state, country, economic class, someone you don't know, but someone who, perhaps, had a style, a way of living, dressing, decorating that speaks to your adventurous or nostalgic tastes. Amen.

The Repair Artist
So, you turn to the people who deal in vintage. We are a curious bunch, drawn like crows to thrift shops, flea markets, church bizarres, estate sales, looking for pieces that spark our curiosity and hopefully that of our customers. We take the dusty, the tarnished, the thread worn, tossed aside for something new, and bring them back to life. We wash and scour, vacuum and iron, wax and polish, sand and hammer, repaint, realign with great fervor our visions of lost beauty.

The Visionary
But it doesn't stop there. Now we photograph it, make it appealing on a flat screen what you can not touch or hold up to the light yourself. We are painstakingly finicky about our photos too--when the lights not right or the backdrop doesn't pop, when the wind is blowing, while I'm trying to shoot scarves. Oye.

The Researcher
We measure & research--oh, the research! Because there is always something new to know, about fabric or shoe sizes, electrical wiring or antique plastics, designers, makers, logos, union labels, patent numbers, eras, wars, styles!

Then we write something pithy, alluring, pleasing and informative for each and every single piece.

care of:
The Errand Girl
There is a lot more we do too. We correspond, answer shipping questions, at dawn or midnight, for buyers in Australia or Singapore. We advertise, write thank you notes, spend more time at the post office than we would like, shop for packing tape & tissue paper and are constantly eyeing for clean boxes & bubble wrap. The list goes on.

So the next time you run into that vintage seller you know, please don't say "Are you still selling stuff on EBay?" The couch potato images, the Day's Of Our Lives marathon, the Cheetos, make me cringe. Say, instead, "How interesting! How devoted. What great finds have you uncovered? How exciting," because I assure you she is working quite hard, long hours, odd hours, between hours, or simply, most all of the time.

So, here's to you, the vintage sleuth, the thrift store enthusiast, the estate sale picker, the visionary recyclers. You rock.

d, xo


  1. *Stands and applauds* LOVE. THIS. POST. Thank you, D -- shared on my Facebook page today (hope you don't mind). :) xo

  2. hear hear! great post. keep up the good work.

  3. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for this post. Very well said. :)

  4. so true and WELL SAID! and thank you for saying it!

  5. ohmygosh! I feel my gut wrench every time a friend or family member asks the inevitable "are you still selling stuff on X venue?" question. It's all I can do not to cockily respond by telling them that, yes, I still run a profitable business that I started out of my closet. literally.

    thanks for taking the words out of my mouth!

  6. LOVE. i'm going to share this beautifully written piece!

  7. Thank you. Looking forward to seeing other's responses. :-)

    dahlila xo

  8. I came from Leah's link. Amen, sister!

  9. Hello Jill,

    LOL! Thank you! Right back at you. :-)

    d, xo

  10. Dear Dahlila,

    You took the words right out of my mouth! haha! A beautifully written article that I agree with 100%. You're a real credit to the world of vintage and speak from the heart. I love that. Writing with such passion certainly helps to spread the word in a very positive way.

    Three cheers for Dahlila!


    L xxx

  11. *blush* Louise, you are the sweetest. :-)
    Thank you & pass it on!
    dahlila xo

  12. You're very welcome.

    BTW! I've had several 'potential' customers try and take things 'off my hands' (much like yours did). It's so insulting but more than that, it's the way they ask. So rude!

    I even had a seller on Etsy (a complete stranger) contact me last week about a dress I'd sold last year. She had a dress with the same label and wanted to know how much I'd sold my dress for. I didn't bother replying. She didn't even have the courtesy of introducing herself first. Ugh!!! Perhaps a nice compliment about my shop would have been a good place to start but I'm not a valuer and my dress would have been completely different to hers anyway.

    There's just nothing to be done with people that lack manners - except to ignore them!