Growing up in the Midwest to garage sale attending, estate sale auction bidding, rummage sale organizing parents, I have a fond memory of “tagging along” when my mom or dad would go out exploring the world of second hand items. I have to say, my dad is amazing when it comes to auctions and sales. Full set of living room furniture for my brothers apartment? 20 bucks. Barely used treadmill? Free. The list goes on and on.
Unfortunately, without a car in NYC, I don’t have the opportunity to get out and do the flea market exploring that I used to. The silver lining is that the Brooklyn Flea Market is open year round in various places depending on the season, and the official language is Haggling. With items ranging from the mundane to the insane, you can rest assured that you will find something that you can use, restore, or even just get a little inspiration from.
One downfall to the Brooklyn Flea Market, is that it is held in what is now the second most expensive city in the US, and vendors expect you to have a lot of money. Why is it that I can get an antique desk in Michigan for $50, but in Brooklyn the same desk is $250? Because its NYC silly! Duh. I personally prefer the price of FREE, so I’ll tend to look for items a little closer to home…..or should I say, AT home. My Parents home to be specific.
While planning a trip to Michigan this past summer, we decided that this trip, we would make the drive instead of flying. We came to this conclusion based on 3 factors: 1) It was cheaper to rent a car for a week than the cost of one plane ticket to MI, 2) Trixie (our dog) could come along for the trip, and 3) because I knew that my parents had a lot of cool stuff in their basement that I wanted to “relocate” to my apt. What better place to find antiques or cool pieces that reminds you of home, than your actual home?
At the end of our time in MI, we packed up the car for the 14 hour drive back to NY. It was filled to the brim with knick knacks and finds from my parents house, our luggage, and a 60 pound Lab. Here are a couple of the items that we scored:
I have very distinct memories of this light hanging in my basement growing up. My dad used it over his chair as a reading light in the house that he lived in before him and my mom met. When they married and moved into the house that I lived in for my entire life leading up to college, it was hung in the basement and not used. When my parents retired, they moved the lamp with them, but once again, it got its very own corner in the basement and collected dust. Well, the first thing I had on my list was this lamp and I knew I could find a great place for it in my apartment. Transporting it back to NY took some creative packing, but now it hangs in the corner of our living room, over our bar area/Blueray collection shelf. Since the power cord had an Edison outlet plug, no hard wiring went into installing it, however there was no on/off switch on it, so we chose to run it to a timer, so that the light would be on in the mornings when we were waking up and getting ready for work, and also in the evening, as the sun set. It really is lovely coming home to the warming glow each evening. Not to mention, the animals are not left in the dark during these early sunset winter nights before we get home.
Last week the bulb blew out. As I took the lamp down, took it apart, and started to unscrew the 150 watt bulb, I couldn’t help by think about the fact that the last person to touch the bulb was my father, over 30 years ago. Things like this make me very happy.
One of these things is not what you think, and since you’re only looking at the phone, you only get one guess. This phone is actually a radio! That doesn’t mean that it lacks the charm of an original antique phone thought (my parents actually have a real one hanging in their kitchen that I was instructed “not to even think about taking”). The phone actually came into our possession after my folks tried to give this to someone else. It worked for a while, until the radio benefactor returned it to my parents, saying they had researched it online, and it was worth too much for them to accept. I, however, do not feel that same urge of politeness and had already scoped the sucker out on my visit home months before. Set aside, it was ours for the taking when we arrived. The phone/radio now hangs above the animals food and water next to our kitchen and I only hit my head on it for 3 months every time I filled their water bowls.
When some people crawl into the crawl spaces under their houses, they find tools, or holiday decorations, or bodies, but when I climbed into ours, I found this rack that hung in my childhood home. Being that my parents purchased their retirement home before they sold my childhood home, this must have been something that they didn’t need in their new place. Now, it is successfully holding up my spices allowing me to find what I need quickly instead of having to dig into the back of cupboards each time searching for that garlic powder I know I have….somewhere. Now, while the heart that is carved out of the top gives a little to much of a look of “Grandma’s House” for my taste, it is easily hidden behind my larger spices. I still have some organizing to do, including printing out labels for the bottom of the spice containers (they stack easier and fit more when they are on their sides), but hanging at the end of our kitchen between the sink counter and our hanging pot rack puts the spices at eye level and easy to grab.
Along with those larger items, we were able to escape with a Lazy Susan, a wooden serving platter, and a painting that has hung in my grandmothers basement until she moved in with family members and sold her house. My dads reaction when I asked him about the Lazy Susan and platter? “Oh that? That’s just junk. It was in a box that I had to buy just to get the item at the bottom”. Gotta love those Flea Market Fire Sales! And parents who are willing to give you their really cool/old stuff!
So next time you are home and you decide that the antique spinning wheel would look great at your place, why not ask if you can take it? The worst they could say is no, and then you have to sneak out with it in the middle of the night.
Happy “shopping” and have a fantastic weekend!