Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I've been waiting just for you...take me home!

There's something about an outdoor market on a sunny day that appeals to our most ancient selves: the anticipation of unlimited possibilities, the excited buzz of treasure seekers, an irresistible tingle when you spot something special that whispers, "You know I'm perfect for you...Take me home!"

That kind of exhilaration descends on the spacious parking lot at Magnolia Antiques & Home Interiors three times a year during the Marketplace at Magnolia event, next scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 19. This weekend, in fact.
Caryn Conway, owner of Magnolia's, dreamed up the Marketplace five years ago, and since then it's grown to be quite an attraction: sixty vendors displaying everything from furniture to pottery, jewelry to ironwork and art. She keeps the standards high: only antiques and collectibles are accepted. The event always sells out; at $25 per space, it's a great opportunity for sellers to make contact with buyers in a pleasant outdoor atmosphere, complete with homemade food and beverages. So far, in five years of operation, the weather has always cooperated beautifully.

Naturally, Magnolia's has something extra for the shoppers, usually a 20% off sale inside the store where 25 dealers have established a reputation as "The Best Antique Store in Sacramento" for the past three years.
Marketplace at Magnolia takes place 8am to 3pm the last Sunday of March, May and September, unless that date conflicts with a major holiday, so in that case it's best to call for information. Admission is free. Magnolia is only 15 minutes from downtown Sacramento, at 6458 Fair Oaks Blvd. in Carmichael, open daily 10am to 6pm. To be a vendor, or to find out more about the Marketplace, call (916) 973-8590.
Photos: Caryn Conway

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Out of the ordinary

The motto at Sekula's Fine Art & Antiques is "Because your world shouldn't be ordinary," and there's certainly nothing ordinary about the early 20th Century, Arts & Crafts furnishings they have collected at their store in the 57th Street antique center in Sacramento.

Misha Sekula and Rick Kersey are decorators and designers as well as dealers in antiques, and their tastes run to rich textures (think gleaming leather and glossy, dark wood) and understated forms that unite easily with other pieces rather than clashing or dominating a room. My favorite pieces are the irresistible deep leather chairs in tones of chocolate and caramel, with soft mica-shaded lighting, Mission furniture in pristine condition, warm velvety textures in subdued patterns I could live with for decades and never get tired of them. Wandering through their website, I get nostalgic for an era before my time, in the early 1900s when Craftsman cottages set the style in California.
Sekula's has an art gallery, too, featuring contemporary award-winning artists such as Terry Miura and Keith Wicks, and photographers like Don Satterlee. Periodically they host showings of artists' works, the most recent being Visions of New York and Central Park by Kevin Courter. Photos of these works also appear on the website. I couldn't help but notice that the styles and subject matter blend beautifully with the furniture on display, even though the artists are from the current generation.

Sekula's also offers custom design for furniture and cabinetry. The store is open Wednesday through Sunday, 11am-5pm or by appointment.

Photos are from; visit their website to see much, much more.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Celebrating 24 years in Clovis

Happy 24th Anniversary to The Original 4th Street Antique Mall in Clovis! Often called the best store in Clovis, thanks to the energetic efforts of owner Marty Watt.

The 36 dealers make the most of their 8,000 sq. ft. of space, displaying everything from oak and Victorian furniture to postcards and estate jewelry.
Lots of art pottery and lovely small gifts, linens and lace, and items to decorate your home and garden.

Marty alerted us recently that their annual August sale will take place this year from the 21st to the 31st, with 10% to 50% off just about everything in the store. You can get a good idea of their wide array of merchandise at their Facebook page, where they uploaded dozens of photos recently. Here's just a sample to whet your appetite...

The Original 4th Street Antique Mall is at 402 Pollasky on the corner of 4th Street.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Razzling That Dazzle!

What goes around comes around, and never more so than in fashion. The strapless dress has been back for a while now, all the more reason to concentrate on our upper-body workouts. But the current strapless styles have nothing on the ones from the Fifties, when designers took the look as far as it could go. Isn't that when we first heard the joke, "That's a lovely dress you almost have on?"

On a little "windowshopping" expedition among vintage store websites this morning I found this ultimate silk strapless party dress, at Cindy Ferris's Razzle Dazzle in Tucson. Va-voom! With the right coloring (and that toned upper body) a girl would look like a movie star and feel smug knowing she paid only $55 for it.

This aptly-named store specializes in dazzle, specifically vintage fine and costume jewelry. My favorite was the 1940s necklace, earring and bracelet set from Mexico in handmade beads of copper and silver. Magnifico!

Guys can spiff up too at Razzle Dazzle, where there's a wide selection of vintage duds for men, too. Where else could you pick up a huggable full-length cashmere coat for $75 for your honey?

There are also home furnishings, especially Fifties-era, like the beautifully-kept authentic chrome-and-Formica kitchen set shown here, for the Retro kitchen that will take everyone back to their childhood.

Razzle Dazzle has a new location at 3402 Grant Rd., formerly Tom's Antiques, between Country Club and Dodge on the south side of the street. But if you're a long way from Tucson, visit the website, where much of their merchandise is displayed in bright, clear and enlargeable photos, and if something calls to you, take it home in their shopping cart!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Smart marketing at Merchant Square

Photos from Pore Ol' John's collection at Merchant Square in Chandler, AZ

I've noticed a new trend among antique malls, a good example of which is at the website of Merchant Square in Chandler, AZ, which is apparently housed in an old schoolhouse. What a great use of old public buildings, turning them into antique malls!
Merchant Square not only has its own website, and some of their dealers have attached their own blogs to the site, such as Pore Ol' John, who specializes in toy trains and train memorabilia. Six individuals at Merchant Square so far have tackled the challenge of putting up their own blogs, most going for a simple display of photos which gets the idea of their specialties across with minimal effort. Merchant Square encourages them by featuring a specific site now and then.
Nice kitchen dresser shot, brightly lighted

Another good idea: their website makes navigating through this huge store easier by posting a map on their Tour page. It's a work in progress: eventually those dealers who participate will have their segment of the map green and a rollover will take you to a photo of their display.

We have a saying here at Cochran's, that "Organizing antique dealers is like herding cats." But if only a few get involved by making the effort to take pictures and set up their own blogs, everybody benefits. Best of all, blogging is free!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Online window-shopping...Don't you love it?

New to the antiques blogosphere is the blog posted by the owners of Glory Days Antique Mall in Springfield, OR. The current post covers four popular TV series dealing with the search for and valuation of antiques. And I thought Antiques Roadshow was the only one.

The blog will be an occasional endeavor for these busy ladies, but when they upload new posts, their name will go to the top of the Cochran's blogroll at right.

Glory Days' website has a huge photo gallery, with each enlargeable shot identified with the dealer's name and space number so if you're in Springfield you can stop in at the store at 143 N. 21st St. and immediately head for the items you're most interested in. Or call the store and ask about specific merchandise. A very intelligent approach to informative marketing — online window shopping.

Here's just one of the 100 photos in the gallery, just to whet your appetite. Somebody's been busy with a camera!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Back to the Future

Bliss has asked me to be "guest blogger" today as she grinds out designs for the free webpages we offer to our customers. We're trying to keep up.

There's a couple new things to announce now that we've started contacting people about the new edition for 2011... We can now take PayPal payments for advertising in the book.

Simply grab your invoice and click on the ADVERTISING button above, click to skip the movie
(soon to be replaced with something else), and you'll be presented with a button to our PayPal page. Once there, enter your account number and click the familiar PayPal "Buy Now" button. You'll be whisked away to PayPal's website where you can enter the amount you want to pay toward your ad account. We understand that a lot of dealers use eBay to acquire items for their stores, so perhaps this won't be too mysterious for many of you. We hope you'll use this feature as a convenient way to keep your account current with us.

Also, you may noticed the new round button in upper left of the screen. We are currently providing a pdf version of the Guide as a free eBook download. PDFs, we are told, work on all computer platforms and eBook readers. Why would we do this? There's a few good reasons:
  • It saves us postage and labor, not having to send out individual copies, and
  • It enables travelers from other states and countries to get a full copy of the Guide before they leave home, and
  • It gives us a chance to correct mistakes (who, us?) and update information as it comes in, and
  • It makes the Guide searchable. If you're looking for something specific, the PDF eBook can find it in a jiffy.

If the downloads and bandwidth expenses start to get onerous, we may need to charge a small fee for the download. But for now, we'll see how it goes as a free offer. We want to get as many copies of the Guide out there as we can, and this is another way to do it. As always, feel free to contact us with suggestions and comments.
Jim Cochran

Thursday, May 13, 2010

No slave to fashion

Fabulous gown from 1926, in today's New York Times photo spread of vintage fashion

Browsing through 172 photos of vintage fashion finds from all over the world in today's New York Times online I had a lightbulb moment: why so many of us, treasure old wearables. I can only speak for myself, but there's a delightful rebelliousness in buying perfectly good and still attractive clothes that someone else wore decades ago and gave up either because they were no longer fashionable, her size changed, or she died (hopefully in some other garment). Many items in the NYT collection were passed on from grandmothers and other generations, making them even more cherished.

I haven't been a slave to current fashion for decades. I can still remember slogging off to school in the morning, burdened down by four scratchy petticoats under my circle skirt. Out on my own, making my own living, I couldn't justify the desperate efforts to be in style, even in stylish Dallas and San Francisco. Either the "hot" look was inappropriate for me (uncomfortable, too short, too slutty, too silly-looking) or I just balked at spending good cash on something I wasn't in love with, just because it was the trend.

Apparently there are quite a lot of us who feel the same way, for reasons of their own. After all, there are enough rules in life, without submitting to those imposed by corporations to keep us buying more than we need. The phrase "must-have" just sets my teeth on edge. The very idea of spending hundreds of dollars on the latest Manolo Blahnik shoes or Fendi bags to make a fashion statement gives me a headache. The shoes end up hurting, anyway, and the bags don't have enough pockets.

Thank goodness for the consignment and vintage shops, the thrift stores, rummage sales and swap meets where we can indulge our dress-up fantasies and experiment with different looks without guilt.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

'Wooten' you love a desk like this?

From typewriters to desks, with a little hiatus...

A new antique store has sent me a photo of an amazing desk, the Wooton, which in its time (1870-1889) was known as the "King of Desks" with good reason: In an age when file cabinets weren't yet in general use, this decorative and well-thought-out office furniture provided more than 100 cubbyholes, pigeonholes and shelves for keeping important papers and office aids.

Francine Esposito at the new Highway 41 Antique Emporium in Morro Bay, CA offered us several shots of her Wootons, so we could see them closed and locked, and fully opened in their working state. As advertisements of the time announced, there was "no excuse for slovenly habits" when you had a Wooton, because there was literally a place for everything.

Designer William Wooton was the eighth of 13 children, and in such a crowded household it's easy to imagine that he grew up with a high regard for the ability to stash and lock up one's treasures.

But he also acquired the Victorian love of elegance ~ quality woods, carvings, gold leaf and exquisite finishes, and his factory in Indianapolis was known for work that looked handcrafted, not mass-produced. No ordinary desks, they were called Patent Cabinet Office Secretaries.

Everyone of note, from Queen Victoria to John D. Rockefeller and Joseph Pulitzer had a Wooton.

Francine Esposito's new 12,000 sq. ft. store has been open six weeks and already has 36 spaces occupied by antique dealers, as well as 27 showcases. "We're offering a new concept," says the store website, "Dealers pay no commission and no fees." The mall has a blog, too, where new arrivals and new dealers can get some exposure. So you can cybervisit in advance, and next time you're driving the gorgeous California coast, you can stop in Morro Bay, visit the store at 520 Atascadero Road and meet Francine in person.