Sunday, August 18, 2013

serendipity (and Taylorstone Cathay)

An introduction from me, as well as justifications for this blog, will follow in later posts.

For now, I’ll just jump right in and launch this thing with a tale of my latest thrift store shopping tripa serendipitous one. 

And here’s how it went:

Whenever I visit my parents in the mountains of North Carolina, I try to peruse the several thrift stores and resale shops in Spruce Pine. And there are, indeed, quite a few there for a town that’s so small.

The first place we visited (and always my fave ) was Shops of SafePlace, a store whose sales benefit domestic violence victims.  The front section of the shop is mainly clothes and books. But in the back, an enterprising thrifter can find a nice collection of vintage dishes, kitschy knickknacks, a few pieces of so-so furniture, and some fun polyester vintage clothing. Some of it is priced at resale, some at thrift.

That day, I found two Taylorstone Cathay bread & butter plates for my modest—but treasured—Cathay collection. I love, love, love this pattern. And I remember the first time I ever laid eyes on it—at a thrift store in Mobile, Alabama, almost 10 years ago. At that time, when my knowledge of mid-century design was more limited than it is now, I liked the pattern because it reminded me of Epcot. (For real.)

At SafePlace, I also grabbed a single bread & butter plate marked Fortune on the bottom. It was obviously mid-century; I liked the pattern; and it was priced at only 89 cents. How could I just leave it there by itself? After checking online later, I learned that it was a Homer Laughlin design. Cool.

My mom—who doesn’t normally thrift store shop—picked up six simple, delicate, white Syralite bowls from Syracuse. I wish she'd taken photos of them. She says she’ll use them for ice cream.

After that, and while heading toward a local antique store, we stumbled upon a place out on Highway 226 that used to be a gem mining tourist trap, but that now gives the appearance that business is slow. There was, though, a handwritten yard sale sign (complete with an arrow pointing toward a seemingly empty building) out front. We stopped.

Turns out, there was a little gem store in the back, where we asked about the yard sale.  The nice lady there told a teenager in the room to open it for us. The teenager left for a minute, she returned with keys and a money box, and she escorted Mama and me to the next buildingthe empty looking one. (For a thrift store junkie, it was like getting a private shopping appointment at a high-dollar boutique after hours.) 

Inside were only a few shelves and several tables, but they were loaded with dusty, dingy, dirty stuff. Right off, I spied some super-cool, tall drinking glasses—five of them—decorated with black and gold locomotives and priced at a buck apiece. They were in great condition, gold lips and all. Score. Now, I'm sure that this patternfrom Libbey, by the wayis familiar to lots of folks, but this was the first time I had ever, ever seen it. 

I also found a single Bicentennial glasspart of a set I’m collecting for I don't know what. I was a kid in 1976, and I remember the patriotic hoopla. That might be why I have a problem passing up anything Bicentennialesque.

There was a stack of wall hangings containing two flowers and lots of butterflies—all either Burwood or Homco. They sat on a table marked "everything $1." Score again. Mama took them all. (And she took the photos below for me!)

She already owns a couple of Burwood butterflies, by the way, which she recently painted a creamy white and hung on her back porch. They belonged to her mother.

And we found a brass bamboo serving cart (dusty, like everything else) hiding under some other items. It still had its undefiled, oval, glass shelves; it was clearly mid-century; and it was priced at five bucks. Mama got it, although at this time she's not sure where in the world she'll put it.

After a half-hour or so of private shopping (during which the teenager took a short smoking break outside, God bless her), the total bill for Mama and me together amounted to right around $25. And the sweet teenager took a check! Holy moly. Remind me to stop at ill-designated and hopeless looking yard sales in the future.

After that, we visited the other five or six places open in town, but I bought nothing. (Mama did buy two more butterflies, though. I think she's planning on sharing with my sister.) The next day, my family and I drove home to Northern Virginia. And the day after that, I instinctively took off for my favorite Goodwill store a couple of miles away. (And this is where the serendipity comes in.)

There in the housewares section, on a middle shelf, sat eight mint condition (I swear, they’re mint condition) Libbey locomotive glassesjust like the ones I'd just bought. They were priced higher than those at the Spruce Pine yard sale, but no biggie.

So in a three-day period, I happened upon these 13 glasses, which I had never seen before, in two separate states. Thrift store serendipity.

I also bought at GW a Kleenex dispenser by Vendome. It has holes in the back, presumably for hanging. (Handy-dandy!) I don't really know anything about it yet, but it was so plastic and orange that, of course, I had to have it. 

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