After an entire weekend of zigging and zagging America’s backroads to bring unique goods to our customers, I figured this would be as good a place as any to begin our blog. Obligatory introductions are in order: I am Chad, Jill’s sometimes partner, full time husband and overtime muscle. If you ever venture to her shop, I will be the one grunting and sweating to lift cool items in to your vehicle.
Jill had the wonderful idea to begin blogging about all our misadventures in the relentless search for the unique, odd and cool items we bring to her shop. And since I usually have a respectable amount of downtime between lifting stuff, I was nominated to put pen to paper, or rather fingers to keys, to tell the tale of how we came to posess some of the coolest stuff in Lexington.
Now, let me first preface by saying that you will not find out any secrets here. Sorry. A good fisherman won’t divulge their honeyholes and neither will we. If you are in fact interested in learning the antique, junk, collectable, oddities market, I will tell you this…there is no one place we go. We go everywhere! (cue Johnny Cash.) Estate sales, garage sales, auctions, abandoned warehouses…you name it, we’ve probably been there. Rather the real reason for keeping this journal is to document the truly odd and wonderful adventures we have had while on the road, much like American Pickers but without being staged!
This past weekend proved to be a great weekend to begin our blog! We left Saturday morning with high hopes of filling our (borrowed) covered trailer with all kinds of goodies. At least enough goodies to get us thru the desolate winter months when auctions and garage sales dry up. The first sale we targeted was mostly a bust. I say mostly because we did get to see some beautiful fall foliage and the drive was magnificent. But there weren’t any items we deemed worthly of a seat on the Opidell Express back to Lexington. After nearly getting the trailer hung on an electric wire while departing the auction, we continued down the road…
We happened upon a bizarre scene after getting moderately lost leaving our last location. We topped a hill to find the entire road littered with some sort of sale lining both sides of this tiny two-lane stretch of road. Could we have found a Picker’s Oasis? I dropped Jill at what looked to be the source of the sale then began looking for a place to park my mammoth machine. When I finally did settle on a landing strip, I departed my vehicle and began searching for Jill. She was already knee deep in negotiations when I found her. The trailer would have some passengers after all. We continued up and down the road until all was seen.
Turns our there was a festival in the works. I believe the main reason God created fall was for festivals. The cool air never seems to transport the smells of chili and the sounds of Bluegrass music as efficiently as during Fall. Since we had already put in a hard day of sitting, driving, and raising our bidding arms, we decided to treat ourselves to a much deserved snack. The fare was fair food…both in style and quality. But that didn’t stop us for enjoying the culinary version of a walking heart attack. I chose a cheeseburger and Jill settled on a fried-balogna sandwhich (which was thicker than the burger!) and we both had Frito Pie. If you have never had Frito pie, then your Hillybilly card may be challenged. Frito pie is a wonderful concoction consisting of Fritos covered in Chili then nacho cheese. It is known by others names, but regardless of it’s title, believe me when I tell you…it is job security for Cardiologists everythere.
Feeling full and guilty, we continued onward. Our next unscheduled stop was a strange little impropt junk market filed with wonderful treasures and friendly hosts. We found an awesome min-century modern chair, a great retro lamp and a display case formerly used as a Woodford Reserve Bourbon rack. Unfortunately the brown water was not included. Then something odd happened. I struck up a conversation with the owner that focused on interesting things we each have purchased in the last few weeks. Some how, I related that I had purchased an old 8mm projector and she had just sold a projector. Nothing earth shattering. Just chit-chat. I left the conversation to wander one last time thru the maze of goodies when the owner approached me. Her husband had just delivered a box of new wares and inside were two 8mm reels. She said I could just have them since I would need something to test my new projector. I asked how much and she again said they were free as she could not charge me for something like that, you know, given the title and everything. I looked down. Right there in big black letters said “Slave and Master.” Oh great…Chris Hanson is monitoring this conversation, I just know it. I bade her thanks, we paid, left, and promptly discarded the reels at the next receptacle.
Continuing down the highway we stumbled upon more garage sales, odd folks, and even a pair of first class airline seats in a town far far away from any airport. Our final spot Saturday was an auction that began earlier in the day. We hoped to catch the tail end and maybe some good bargains. Now, I know we all have mental hobbies. That is, hobbies that we keep to ourselves in our own mind. Punch bug could fit this description. Trying to figure out vanity plates. That’s a good one. I once had a friend who loved to spot mullets. Just little mental games we play inside our own head for entertainment or a laugh. Well, one of mine is Amish people who bid at auctions. I love it! I really don’t know why, but it makes me giggle every time! Given our location, it’s not even rare to see Amish men (never women) bid. Mostly tools, sometimes livestock, but occasionally they bid and win a very peculiar item. Like a hat! Their hats are basically issued. I saw one Amish fellow bidding on a steering wheel. WHY? It’s like me bidding on a quantum phisics text…it just plain ain’t gonna be used.
Let me back up for a second. For anyone who is unfamiliar with the auction format, I will give you a basic tutorial. When you arrive at an auction, you show your driver’s license and are given a bidder number. This number is usually on a piece of paper that is assigned to you and you alone. You and others will bid against each other in an effort to win the item on which you are bidding. At the conclusion of the sale of a particular item, the auctioneer will say something like, “Sold…$5.00 to bidder number 43.” The Amish gentleman bidding this weekend didn’t have a bidder number. He didn’t have a driver’s license so he didn’t have a bidder number. I guess the auction house knew him and allowed him to bid regardless of his lack of proper state issued identification. Fine with me. Here’s the funny part though…when he won an item, he gave an initial…EB. Now, that in inself wasn’t funny. But I heard a gentleman speaking with him at one point during the evening. The gentleman called the Amish person by his name, and although I don’t know if it was the Amish fellow’s first or last name, I am damm sure the name he gave started with neither an “E” or a “B.” So what could the “EB” stand for? My friends, it will just have to remain a mystery. I know the Amish don’t like their photo taken, so I assumed they didn’t like being asked what their bidder initials mean either. Might take their spirit or something. And why, if you lead a semi-eventless existense as the Amish do, why not for a day be uber-cool. Why not say something like, “Oh yea, I won the butter churn. But that on Sparrow’s tab my good man.” Or, “that’s right. $10.00 for the bonnett. Bidder number Crazy Train if you will.” Time will tell.
We wrapped up the auction and pointed the old Suburban and trailer southward. Then east. I dunno exactly which direction we headed, but since we were headed home I can say with some certanity I had a big smile on my face. As the sun dropped behind the hills to begin its encore for the other side of the world, I began to ponder the luck we had that day. We saw so much of the world few get to see. Anyone can book a trip to Hawaii or head to the Biltmore and although neither should be missed, true America can’t be found on the pages of a travel brocure. It’s on the two lane highways and in the backwoods. That’s where you will truly find us, as Americans, and you, as a person.
With the trusty GPS guiding the direction and a fresh Mountain Dew helping me guide the wheel, I suddenly felt very lucky to be able to lead the life I am leading. With Jill’s SNORE-SLURP-AHEM-SNORE cadence resonating thru the truck and the highway noise humming underfoot, I grinned and allowed myself a daze into appifinay. I was transporting cool items and products from one location to the next on a wonderful roadtrip. And although many will never see the backroads and byways I am describing, that stuff trailing behind the trusty truck got an all inclusive journey just to make their way to our shop, then maybe to your home.