So it is the New Year and I, like many others, am filled with inpiration, hope, and a plethera of goals for the New Year. I hope it lasts past “Blue Monday, January 23rd, 2013, the most depressing day of the year calculated by Dr. Cliff Arnall…read about it here http://thepopularman.com/blue-monday-2013-the-worst-day-of-the-year/.
Anyway, my resolution / goal list is numbered 25 so far. There is the normal ‘exercise and eat better’ resolution, along with the other usual self and life improving promises we all convince ourselves we’ll do come the first of the year. However, this year, I have a new one. I’m going to allow myself to keep more of the beautiful, wonderful vintage treasures I find at auctions and sales and incorporate them into my life. I already do this to a dregree, but I have found that I offer up the best finds to the shop.
Recently, the shop was featured in an article by BG Magazine about vintage shops in Lexington. One of the questions the interviewer asked me was “how would you suggest people use vintage and antique items in their homes?” I tried my best to answer the question by suggesting that one should try to be creative and use imagination to come up with different purposes for vintage items instead of just collecting them on a shelf. But after re-stocking part of the store with Chad this holiday, I came to realize that it is perfectly OK to use these items in everyday life as their original pupose intended.
For instance, the picture below is a collection of vintage Pyrex casserole dishes I curerntly have in the shop. I love them. I think they are beautiful and their colors make me want to go home, turn on Billie Holiday, put on an apron, and cook fabulous comfort foods while spinning around in my kitchen wearing a wiggle dress and a beehive! But the question is, “why don’t I do that???” Why would I chose to cook with the same bland Faberware pots and pans and serve it on the same bland Pfaltzgraff plates I always do? I came to realize that I am afraid to ruin their vintage beauty. I am afraid to “use” them. They could break or become etched and faded, so I would ratehr let them sit on a shelf looking pretty forever until I die and someone elese comes along, aquires them, and lets them sit on a shelf forever in their home. I didn’t like this way of thinking and, with Chad’s persuasion, I resolved to let go and begin keeping and USING these vintage items. I will cook in vintage Pyrex whilst spinning around the kitchen listening to Billie Holiday! Ok, maybe I won’t wear the wiggle dress, but definately the beehive!!!
So say “goodbye” to some of the pieces above because they are coming home with me for a new life in this brand new, exciting year.
So, I’m Jill, the one who “wo-mans” the store front most days between the luxurious hours of 12 and 4 pm, and the other half of the man-and-wife team that makes up Opidell’s Antiques, Vintage, and Forget-Me-Nots – my and Chad’s brilliant creation to fuel our treasure-seeking auction addiction whilst preventing ourselves from winding up on an episode of Hoarders…pretty smart, huh? Anyway, Chad is the innovative, inventive, positive type who writes with wit and genius. He is always coming up with the most creative ideas and is forever looking forward to the next adventure. Both genuinely positive and pretty level-headed in general, Chad’s creative side does have a way of getting him in trouble…but that’s another blog in itself. I, on the other hand, am a bit more reserved, introverted, and consider driving five miles over the speed limit adventurous. Slightly superstitious and paranoid, I read my horoscope daily, believe in ghosts, and consider anything inexplicable to be the result of some sort of paranormal, metaphysical, intra-dimensional anomaly to which, although feared, I am paradoxically drawn. Since childhood, I have suffered from insomnia, night terrors, sleep paralysis, and bouts of sleep walking as well. To this day, I rarely sleep all night and regularly wake up between 3 and 4 am with intense feeling of being watched as if a Presence I try to mentally ignore is looming in a far corner of the bedroom smirking at my discomfort and denial that the Witching Hour will have once again stricken me with dark under eyes and a foggy mind. While Chad hugs his pillow and sleeps soundly in the land of the Sand Man, I roll out of bed to turn on all the lights and wait for the comfort of dawn.
During this Godforsaken time of the early morn, I usually scour the Internet for the next best estate sale or auction to attend, considering this work time in order to make up for the banker’s hours I keep at the shop. Armed with a strong cup of coffee and wrapped in a vintage wool throw, I filter through hundreds of online pictures of eligible goodies for the shop, most discerningly, with hopes of finding that one perfect sale where I’ll make out like a bandit with lots of cool vintage quirks! It was during one of these early morning scrutinys that I came across a picture of a couch in someone’s living room that would be offered up for auction to the highest bidder on some future date, which caught my eye. No, it wasn’t the burnt orange polyester blend of the fabric, nor the cheap, faux wood trim that seized my attention. Even the shag green carpet and particle board paneling in the background were not the culprits for my interest, as impressionable as they were. It was, in fact, a very large glowing orb that hovered above the hideous couch that had me entranced.
Now for those of you who don’t know, skeptics, including Wikipedia, consider and orb an unexpected, typically circular artifact that occurs in flash photography—sometimes with trails indicating motion—especially common with modern digital cameras. However, others, like me, believe orbs can, in some instances, be interpreted as an occurrence of supernatural paranormal activity or energy caught on film. Fear-laden excitement rushed through my veins as I stared at the picture envisioning the orb to be the spirit of some former couch owner, grouchy and in denial of their passing, unwilling to leave the comfort of their once beloved sofa. Suddenly a series of disturbing thoughts popped into my paranoid mind, each one more chilling than the one before.
What if this individual’s spirit refuses to leave and travels with the couch to the home of the highest bidder? That bidder could have very well been me! Oh God! What if I’ve already inadvertently brought home some sort of spirit that refuses to leave an item I’ve purchased??? Shit! Maybe that’s why I can’t sleep anymore!!! Hurry, fast, CALL A PRIEST!!!
I’ll admit my slightly ill brain spiraled out of control into a sort of delusional, histrionic episode. The urge to throw away all my pre-owned loot and burn sage throughout the house came over me! I mean, what was I thinking? There were true accounts of haunted items purchased at auctions or passed down through time. For instance, there was the Hope Diamond, which according to legend, is a large blue 42 carat gem that, after stolen from an Indian Idol, was cursed foretelling bad luck and death not only for the owner of the diamond, but for all that touched it. A more recent account of a haunted collectible occurred in 2003 when a Dibbuk box, a haunted Jewish wine cabinet, was originally purchased at an estate sale and later sold on eBay several times subsequently when each purchaser suddenly incurred illness and misfortune after buying the box. The story was used as the inspiration for the 2012 horror film, The Possession.
Panic stricken, I darted from the soft glow of the computer screen bound for the dark and eerie, Entity-occupied bedroom. Chad had to learn of my recent discovery and hear my horrific epiphany immediately! Yet a funny thing happened as I scurried around the corner into the bedroom. The first beams of sunlight were beginning to peer through the blinds and the air was filled with the sounds of gentle snoring. Chad looked so peaceful and completely unaffected by the Malevolent Force I was so sure had come home with us. Suddenly, I felt a sense of calmness come over me and blushed when I imagined what Chad would think to be woken from silent slumber by his crazy wife ranting and raving that she could no longer buy and sell antiques and vintage collectibles due to the recently discovered occupational hazard of a Haunting.
I took a deep breath and resolved that I needed to pour out the rest of my coffee, having had enough already to stimulate myself into a fantastical frenzy. I decided it would be an awful shame to stop doing what I love because of this self-realized job risk of paranormal activity. Plus, I wasn’t quite too sure worker’s comp would cover a haunting. So for now, I’ll carry on with our love of treasure seeking and continue to bring fun old finds to the shop for all to enjoy…that is until they start flying of the shelves on their own :).
There are going to be bad days. Lots of them. Sometimes it seems that the bad days pile on and consume what few good days we are fortunate enough to have. Of course, that sentiment is usually reflected while in the eye of a really bad day. And even though our pickin’ days are usually filled with fun, sun and lots of bidding, this would not be that type of weekend.
The day started dreary and cold. There had been so many nice days leading to this day, you would think I could remember those nice days just recently in my wake, but I couldn’t. Bone chilling air tends to erase the memory of anything other than the previous cold breath hanging in space in the form of a personal dark cloud.
I was already a bit grumpy because I was to strike out on my own this morning. Business was doing well so Jill opted to man the warm shop while I set out in search of elusive goodies. To clarify, I was grumpy since I would not have Jill to chat with while riding the rolling hills of Kentucky, not because she would stay behind in the warm shop. Ok, I have described it as “warm shop” twice, so maybe I was a bit envious.
The first sale was a couple going thru, what the locals tell me, a bitter divorce. I speculated that the morning matched their expectation for the mood the sale would soon establish. Not much to pick from, but I did find some unexpected treasures in the form of a custom dresser, a sewing table and a couple of hand-made wood sculptures. The church pew went for way too much. As did the pie safe. As did all the miscellaneous beer signage and collectables. The auctioneer thought they should have gone for even more money! “What, no Catholics in the crowd? They usually pay tons for these things!” Auctioneers are not yet bound by the laws of political correctness, far as I can tell.
I enlisted the help of a skinny armed 15 year-old to load my trailer. This time I had the open trailer, regardless of the possibility of inclement weather. Fuel prices had killed us on the last run with the covered trailer so I was determined to use my pilot abilities to dodge the weather, and use my expertise in tarp-tying to protect the goods. The skinny armed boy huffed and grunted to help me with my purchases. He finally gave up on the dresser and I was left to load the big unit myself. We chatted about his upcoming car fantasies, even though that dream was a good year off being realized. He told me of some possible treasures he saw hidden in the basement while they were staging the auction. I gave him a few bucks for the info and assistance, finished the auction and headed down the road.
While en route, I passed a downed road sign. I have a thing for road signs. My garage is nearly covered with them. I even have friends and family bring me signs they have found or purchased. The way I figure, if the sign has been laying there long enough to grow grass, it’s fair game. I chalk it up as my own Kentucky beautification project. I went past the sign, turned around in a driveway and headed back for my roadside prize. Checking that the coast was clear, I stepped from my truck and begin masquerading as though I was looking at my trailer. Then I heard it! “GRRRRRRRR!” I turned around to find a pair of Pit Bull dogs staring at me with the same intensity as a Grizzly stares at a steak. As a Biker stares at a Beer. As a West Virginian stares at a math problem. I mean intense. I eased around the back side of my truck, always facing the dogs and occasionally gruffing “No!” or “You be good.” I got to the front the same time they did…damn dogs, always finding a short-cut. I eased in the driver’s seat as a car popped the hill. The dogs scurried away, and so did I, although only one of us had their tail between their legs. Those beasts can have their sign!
Chased by a dog! Hmph…not a bad day yet. I continued down the road to the next auction. I knew I would be arriving late, but I figured I would give it a shot. By the time I found the place, parked and found the entrance it was pretty much over. I didn’t even bother getting a bid number. I asked one of the ring men if they were wrapping up.
“Yep…we’re ’bout done.”
“I guess I should have been here sooner huh?” I said, just trying to be nice.
“Yea man! Things went cheap! I mean, you see that couch right thar?” I looked where his crooked finger abstractly pointed. Now I am not exaggerating…before me sat the ugliest couch I have ever laid eyes upon. It was so ugly, it wasn’t even cool ugly. I was just plain-ole UG-LEEEE! “Well sir, that thar couch only sold fer a doller!”
“No kidding.” I returned, again just being nice. And a little sarcastic. “That’s pretty cheap.”
“Hell yea it is. Tell you what, what’ll ya give me fer it?” He bought the couch! And he was trying to up his UG-LEEE investment on me!
“Oh, I don’t have any room left on the trailer, but believe me, I would! That’s a nice ‘en.” I quickly scurried off for the second time in a day.
Chased by a dog and missed an auction. Ok, still pretty good day. Afterall, I was heading to the shop to unload my finds and see my Jill. After a quick assessment and needed validation of the days labor, Jill and I headed out for a bite-to-eat and beverage. We chatted about the day, the dogs, the couch and such. I could tell she missed going to the auction, so I told here about one more sale within driving distance that didn’t start until 6:00. It wasn’t far away. We woofed down our final bites of food and headed to the house for a quick equipment change (unloading the trailer and putting on clean clothes) and headed out.
The drive was a bit longer than I calculated. I usually under-estimate time figuring I can make up the difference by driving a smidge below maniac classification. But this was a narrow two lane highway and we got stuck behind a school bus. To make matters worse, the school bus had one of those flashing bulbs on the roof. Why do they do that? I know the claim is that the flashing lights make it easier to see the bus, therefore more safe, but you can’t see when you are behind flashing lights in the darkness. It practically blinds you! Can’t imagine how that makes if safer, having a bunch of blinded drivers bearing down on the little ones.
A short while later, following the recovery of my rods and cones, we arrived at the last auction of the day. We walked inside to find this little middle-of-nowhere packed to the ceiling with people. And although the stuff was really neat, it was going for astronomical prices. Where did this auction house get such cool stuff? And where did all these people come from? It was a little Twilight Zone-ish. I was tired, Jill was tired, and the horrible PA system was getting on our nerves. I can only assume the auction house bought their speaker second-hand from an old Long John Silvers drive-thru because that is what it sounded like. We decided to ditch the auction, lick our wounds and head home to a warm bed.
Chased by a dog, missed an auction and had to ditch an auction after a long drive. Still a good day. At least we would be home soon. We arrived home about an hour later. Jill headed to the computer to check her emails and I hit the couch for a much needed review of some bad television. I had just gotten comfortable when I decided to check my email.
“Jill, where’s the iPad?”
“I dunno, you had it last.”
“I thought you had it.”
“Well I know we had it at the auction…”
Any married couple knows the scene that followed. Code red, thrashing thru the house, dismantling the Suburban, searching every nook and cranny…to no avail. We had somehow left the iPad at the last auction house. It was a two hour trip far, far away from my comfortable couch. We weren’t sure who left it, but it didn’t matter. We had to go get it. We called and called, trying to reach the auction house to see if our trip was even necessary. We figured it was long gone. We finally did reach the auction house about 10 minutes out. They hadn’t seen the iPad but promised to make an announcement to see if anyone had found it. By the time we arrived the iPad was sitting up front waiting for us. GREAT! What a relief. We gave each other a glance and finally…finally…were headed for home.
Chased by a dog, missed an auction, bad auction house, lost iPad. Ugh…what a rough day. The final nail in the coffin came from my trusty GPS. Apparently the “Geep-Us”, as I call it, was tired as well. It routed us home a different direction than our inbound route. I just figured she must have found a quicker route. Maybe the “Geep-Us” knew of an unpublished route, or maybe a bridge to a teleportation wormhole that would instantly return me to my couch. No such luck.
For some reason she took me the long route, increasing our time home by half. I had been on the road over eight hours thru the course of the day and never left Kentucky. Hell I hadn’t even gone more that about an hour and-a-half from home at any given time. I was exhausted. Ok, to sum up: chased by a dog, missed an auction, went to a bad-loud-expensive auction, lost my iPad and “Geep-Us” took the long way home. Pretty bad day. But I still wouldn’t change it for anything.
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.
Please visit our home page for Days and Hours of Operation, which are updated Sunday evening for the following week.
These dishes are simply fabulous with simple lines and fun teal atomic accents. There is service for four with four dinner plates, four soup bowls, four salad plates, four fruit bowls, four cups and saucers, one large serving bowl, and one oval-shaped platter. There are extra pieces as well, making this set a steal at $65.