Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Downtown Petaluma Antique Faire

Petaluma is a great destination for the lovers of antiques and collectibles. Antique shops and collectives abound, in a setting of beautifully restored 1880’s buildings. The residential streets are lined with Victorian houses, and the whole city has an upscale atmosphere blended with a touch of the rural from local farmfolk.

Sunday I set up my usual booth at the semi-annual Antique Street Faire. The day was unpredictable, weather-wise. As the day progressed, everything was the exact opposite of what I had read on the Weather Channel on the internet. It predicted no rain, we got rain. Cold was predicted, it was warm. Cloudy all day; the sun ruled.

I got out of bed at 2:00 A.M., and left the house at 3:00, arriving in Petaluma before 4:00. This makes for a very long day. Shortly after getting the canopies set up, luckily covered with plastic, the tables, cloths, and cases containing jewelry and sterling flatware, plus crates of old books, dishes, some art, beaded bags, sterling and celluloid dresser accessories, it rained. Luckily, I came prepared with plastic sheeting to cover the tables, allowing people to see what was for sale. Crates of books were shoved under the tables, and I continued trying to sell. Now, I can’t even remember whether or not I sold anything at that time.

I had a good day, business-wise. Sales were not as great as last year’s at the two shows, but good enough. Many items sold were in the $100 and over range, so that adds up. The $85 items also help. I started right off with an “as is” very large beautiful beaded bag with an iris motif for $125. When I told the woman I would come down to $125 from the $175 price tag, her response was “I’ll take it! Let’s see what else you have.” She loved the wonderful celluloid frame and chain. The purse would have been marked $275 by other dealers. Actually, my first sale of the day was an old “as is” umbrella with holes, but with a red bakelite handle, for $10. I had forgotten that I still had a couple of umbrellas from my days of doing the Vintage Shows, and I found them in my closet when I was cleaning my bedroom. One more thing is out of the house, never to be seen again.

Several of the pieces that I had at the show were items that I had not had displayed before. Some were new purchases and some had been languishing in my cupboards for a few years. One lovely little thing that had been languishing was a beautiful salt cellar, from England. It was sterling silver, with a cobalt blue glass liner, and a sterling salt spoon. The cutout design was great, and the shape was pleasing. It was sort of rectangular with rounded ends that curved up, and the cobalt insert totally followed the shape of the silver. The salt cellar had cute feet. I sold this item fairly early in the day, and I know that the price should have been higher. It was a very good piece; that is why I had been saving it.

I also sold an ornate sterling napkin ring, with “George” on it. I had just acquired four napkin rings and I usually never find them. A woman bought a spoon with a gold bowl engraved “George”, along with other sterling flatware, and the napkin ring.

The day was strange. Very few of my regular customers were there. It was a whole new group of people. One antique dealer came by and purchased a very good Hattie Carnegie fur clip from the late 30’s – early 40’s, gold color with a huge “topaz” in a Retro design. The clip was very large and beautiful. The very early Carnegie pieces were marked with just “HC”. He is my usual customer for Hattie Carnegie, Nettie Rosenstein, and McClelland Barclay jewelry. I believe those are the only designers he has ever purchased from me.

It was a day for rhinestones. I have one large case that is all clear rhinestones, with my colored stone pieces in other cases. The jewelry is on an emerald green velvet cloth, and is very striking. There was a time when no one wanted the clear stones, but now they are very “hot” again. The first piece I sold was a lovely 20’s bracelet, with tiny round clear stones, and pale green baguettes. The woman who found it practically grabbed it. She was very happy with her purchase. After that young women were buying three pins at a time out of case. It is approaching empty, so I have to shake the dust out of the cloth and refill it with pieces I have been working on. This jewelry needs a small stone or two to make it ready to sell. That is my project for the week.

I usually sell quite a few books in Petaluma, but I only sold a few cookbooks. That was depressing, as I had hoped to further eliminate some of my book inventory. If I said $3, they wouldn’t take a book unless I came down to $1, which is much less than I paid for it in the first place. Oh, well. They have to move out.

I always love being at the show in Petaluma. The air is festive, with the displays of all the antique dealers on the street and in the parking lot nearby, plus the food vendors sending great aromas into the air. I am set up in front of the Petaluma Catering Service, and they usually sell coffee and food while they are busy preparing other food for the inevitable Sunday party. The Downtown Association provides coffee and great pastries for the dealers. It is fun admiring the wonderful old buildings across the street in my spare moments, and soaking up the atmosphere of the place and the day. The crowd is usually very large, and Sunday was no exception. The Lions Club served breakfast, with young girls traveling around with a wagon taking orders and delivering them to the dealers in their booths.

The sales for the day would have been mediocre, save for the help of three women. These sales occurred after I had packed boxes and was getting ready to load the van. One woman and her daughter found some jewelry they just had to own. Then, after the cloths were in the cases covering the jewelry so it could be loaded, a young woman and her fiancee came along asking for rhinestones. I took the cover out of the rhinestone case, and she spent a considerable amount of time choosing three pins for the attendants for her wedding in July. I really gave her a deal, just to make a final sale. Two of the pieces were Coro duettes, very early, desirable jewelry. The designs were great, and the stones were fine. Duettes are pins that are made up of two dress clips or fur clips fastened onto a frame that contains the pin part. They can be worn as a pin or separately as clips to be worn apart from each other.

She and her boyfriend were both happy with the decisions, and she wants me to see if I have anything at home for her eight-year-old flower girl. I mailed white gift boxes to her yesterday for the pins. As she stated, it was worth my while to allow her to see the rhinestones, because she spent quite a bit, although she received the items for about half what I would normally charge.

I arrived home after the show at 8:00 P.M. and I was exhausted. As I said, it was a very long day, but I was happy. I am not certain that my health allows for the exhaustion, as I felt completely worn out yesterday, but I managed to do many things around here, not the least of which was moving a good share of my “garden” so men could replace my neighbor’s water heater. That has become a two-day job because they are here again today.


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