Flickr Widget

Friday, October 14, 2011

Living in the material world

So the idea of becoming a seller of vintage furnishings sounds like fun, huh? Glamorous even? Pause for a moment and consider the reality of such a venture, if you will.

Before opening the store, my daughter and SIL lived in a great mid-century house with 3 bedrooms and a nice rumpus room with lots of space for their two boys to play. To have more money to get the store off the ground, they made a decision to sell their house.

Now they live here, at the store, in approximately 400 square feet of open space behind the orange door at the back of the showroom. Grandson #1 just turned two and is into everything. Grandson #2 is now almost 10 months old and is crawling/cruising. Everywhere. Corralling them in that small space is a challenge, to say the least.

Examine, please, the next two photos, which are part of the series I call What My Life Used to Look Like.

View to my living room alcove
Fireplace and built-ins

And here is how my living room looked today, after bringing home several boxes of smalls to photograph for the website and Etsy store and make price tags for and after FedEx dropped off a shipment of fabric. Notice that I've moved the liquor cart out of the dining room. Sometimes I need it handy. :)

Smalls to photograph and tag
(and, yes, my chair is under that pile of boxes)
Fabric to reupholster 5 chairs

Before you get out the world's tiniest violin and start to play your rendition of "My Heart Bleeds for You," I will admit that there's an upside to this story. My daughter and SIL just signed the papers on a beautiful loft not far from the store. It's actually larger than their house was, and it's in a very family-friendly building with tons of amenities...its own dry cleaners, coffee shop, restaurant, cocktail lounge, art gallery and grocery store, plus a rooftop pool, spa and grilling area. They move in the day after Thanksgiving.

Some of you may remember that they had a huge sale when they sold their house and got rid of everything but the bare essentials, so they will have the added fun of buying almost all new furniture, which they say will be a mix of vintage and contemporary modern.

Once they've moved, my SIL will tear out the wall which now divides the store from their living quarters, allowing him to move in more of the great vintage pieces he has at his warehouse, plus start carrying some new pieces, which he's been wanting to do for a while...and allowing me to move all the boxes out of my house!

So the idea of becoming a seller of vintage furnishings sounds like fun, huh? Well, to be honest, it is. Sometimes even glamorous.

But to make that happen, you have to be prepared for a lot of hard work and sacrifice. My daughter and SIL have done an incredible amount of both, so I will be very proud and happy to see them move into a beautiful new home and expand the store after being in business less than a year.

If we had a chance to do it all over again, would we...cramped, messy spaces and all? You bet. In a heartbeat. 

(On second thought, better wait to ask my daughter that question after she gets moved into their new place, with lots of room for the boys to play...and great new furniture. She's been a very good sport, but there's no sense in pushing your luck.)


  1. Great post! The new digs sound fantastic! I want to live there. Your place still looks great too, underneath the smalls and packages. You all should be very proud of your accomplishments and sacrifices. Sounds like your hard work is really paying off.

  2. @Midcenturymadam: I've got to hand it to my kids. When they decided to do this, they put it all on the line. I don't think I would have had the courage at their age to give up a really good paycheck, sell my house and jump in with both feet like they've done. I'm really proud of them.

  3. It takes a lot of guts, and even moreso, passion, to do what your daughter and SIL did. Every success to them!

  4. @I dream lo-tech: Yes, they definitely have both of those traits. I don't think Thoreau and I ever have to worry that these two will live lives of quiet desperation. They seem to have signed a pact to live deep and do that marrow thing! ;)

  5. Congrats on the family's new home. It sounds like an amazing place to live and I have to say the only thing I like about moving is the redecorating and refurnishing at the new place.

  6. @monogirl: I'm with you. Redecorating is the only thing that makes moving bearable.

  7. I do feel the same frustrations, Dana! My house is in such disarray, you'd think we were moving in or moving out with all the boxes of smalls laying around. :(

    Maybe this hasn't happened to your happy little crew down there, but I am going through frequent bouts of MCM burnout. Being surrounded by pieces in the home, and then in the store every day ... from time to time my interest in shopping for stock or research is less than zero. because of this, we almost sold a Wirkkala Ultima Thule bowl for $25. *DOH!*

    but buying all new furnishings IS fun, and they have quite the pickings to choose from! :)

  8. @stacey: I haven't experienced burnout, but I really am tired of storing things at my house. Once they move out and Joe enlarges the store, I'm going to start working there every Sunday, so he'll have a day off. I'll be able to do all my photographing and tag-making there, because there will be room to work. I honestly can't wait!

  9. Really enjoyed this post ... food for thought indeed.

  10. @chairsmith et al: For lovers of mid-century furnishings, I think it is easy to get so caught up in the idea of how exciting it would be to surround yourself with the things you love and actually make a living selling them that you overlook the reality. What isn't so readily apparent is how many hours you spend looking for furniture...either sitting on hard chairs at an auction house or sitting in front of your computer bidding online or driving hundreds of miles to pick up a load of furniture from one of your pickers, because you've realized that hitting local estate sales for the occasional great find isn't going to keep a brick and mortar store stocked. Or the hours you spend haggling with shipping companies to try to get your auction items delivered to you at an affordable cost. Or the dry spells where there is nothing to be found...and no friendly, neighborhood widget supplier you can call to replenish your inventory, which teaches you in a hurry that you'd better rent warehouse space and have enough pieces stored to tide you over when you can't find anything to buy. Or the endless hours of research that you have to do, to be sure you don't miss out on something valuable or buy something valuable but not know what it is and therefore sell it for pennies on the dollar.

    But the upside is that your original notion about how much fun it's going to be is pretty much spot on. :)