Closing in on the End of the Year.

Wrap up 2015 with some savings. Save 20% off any one item over $300 from December 21 – December 31. Sale items are excluded. Located at 1055 South Glenstone, Springfield MO. One block south of Grand; next to the Cottage Consignments.

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Opening up an Antique.

Philip has been sharing his favourite “magic” antiques on the store’s Facebook page. Take a look.

  
  

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New European Items in the Store for your Holiday Shopping

  
Thinking unique and out-of-the-box? Stop by 1055 S Glenstone, Springfield Missouri.

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No Treats on Portobello Road.

Proof that we were there.

Proof that we were there.

Jump on the Tube and exit at Notting Hill Gate, follow the crowds and you will arrive at one of London’s most visited attractions. It’s a street. Portobello Road. Anyone not heard of it? Anyone else visited there? Seen bumbling Hugh Grant’s movie Notting Hill? Here’s our short review: if you are looking to buy antiques or vintage or collectibles for resale, go elsewhere.

Another early morning start.

Another early morning start.

We arrived early to beat the crowds on a Saturday, which we had heard were tremendous. That is an understatement. At 8 a.m., we had the south antique section of the street to ourselves and we started off by wandering in and out of the private small over-priced stores that line both sides of the road. We casually browsed tables set up on the sidewalks and tented booths that set up in the street.

A friendly shopkeeper on Portobello Road. This is where we bought some Polo balls.

A friendly shopkeeper on Portobello Road. This is where we bought some Polo balls.

Then we ventured into the antiquated antique stalls built into rooms of tiny buildings. Close your eyes and imagine…..You’ve entered into a retail building, but instead of open shelving and displays, there are small glass closets and each of these closets are crammed with grandma’s finest crap, from floor to ceiling. Next to the first closet is another closet and another and so on. Besides the stuff, there is a person sitting on a tiny chair reading the daily newspaper. No eye contact, although they may decide to break their silence and talk with the person on the chair opposite them. There is room for one person to carefully walk down the hall between the closets. This is not a comfortable way to shop if you are claustrophobic or carrying a child. Follow the hall as it turns the corner and exits back onto the street. There are many of these buildings and we went into each of them.

It's 10 a.m. and the crowd is growing.

It’s 10 a.m. and the crowd is growing.

By 11 a.m., Portobello Road is full of people, wall to wall people. Casually strolling is now off-limits. The throng of tourists pushes you down the road. Think about if Madison Square Gardens had only one exit and everyone was using it to go in and out at the same time. Chaos!

Jam filled donuts from a food stall on Portobello Road.

Jam filled donuts from a food stall on Portobello Road.

The road itself has developed specific sections. The south part is the antiques section, followed by food and groceries. We thought there would be flower stalls, but there weren’t many, maybe due to it being October. The food stalls were the most interesting. All types of international open air cooking were offered. The Spanish paella smelled out of the world, but we were unwilling to eat and try to walk at the same time. Then there are house ware vendors and rows and rows of vintage or simply old clothing. At the most northern end, regular people put out secondhand garage sale items. At the end, you turn around and let the mob push you back to south of the road which empties out at Notting Hill Gate.

By now, everyone is looking for a place to eat and all the eateries are full of stressed out foreign people. Luckily, we found a sushi restaurant, where we could unwind and recuperate. We did buy a few items and got to visit with a fellow Transferware Collectors Club member who sells from a double-wide glass closet. He has amazing transferware.

Sushi at itsu on Notting Hill Gate.

Sushi at itsu on Notting Hill Gate.

So, we’ve been there and done that. We’ve checked it off our bucket list. No treats on Portobello Road, but the real treat is that we are living our dream and shopping for antiques in England and the rest of Europe to bring some great pieces back to our friends in Springfield Missouri.

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Lunch at Burghley House.

Impressive gate at entrance to the house.

Impressive gate at entrance to the house.

After we finished shopping at the Festival of Antiques in Peterborough, we headed to Stamford to check out an antique centre, where we bought a few pieces for the fall container. As we wrapped up our business, we decided to head a mile down the road to eat lunch at Burghley House. Because that’s just what you do.

Main Entrance of Burghley.

Main Entrance of Burghley.

Built by William Cecil, Lord High Treasurer to Queen Elizabeth I, between 1555 and 1587, Burghley House is one of the best examples of Elizabethan architecture in all of England. It has been the Cecil family’s home for over sixteen generations. It is currently owned by Michael Exeter, 8th Marquess of Exeter, 17th Earl of Exeter and 18th Baron Burghley. And he lives in Oregon!

We did not tour the house, but enjoyed our lunch and walking around in the park which was laid out by Capability Brown.

Courtyard at Burghley House.

Courtyard at Burghley House.

You might have seen Burghley before on film. In fact, it served as Lady Catherine’s home, Rosings Park, in the 2005 film version of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, starring Kiera Knightley as Elizabeth Bennet.

Philip can always find ice cream.

Philip can always find ice cream.

English Country Plate Rack.

English Country Plate Rack found in Stamford at the St. Martins Antique Centre. Less than a mile from Burghley House.

 

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Shopping at the Festival of Antiques

Cute van painted to look like a gypsy wagon.

Cute van painted to look like a gypsy wagon.

When we are in England, we plan our trips around the ASFairs (Arthur Swallow Fairs) and IACF (International Antiques and Collectors Fairs). They are usually held during the same week. Then, we take a look at other fairs that coincide with them, either the week before or after. Our trip in October was preceded by a fair at the East of England Showground-Peterborough Arena called the Peterborough Festival of Antiques. Less than an hour and a half south of Lincoln, we decided to add this fair to our itinerary.

The Peterborough Festival of Antiques is advertised as one of the largest Antique Fairs in England and is held twice a year in March and October. It is a well-organized fair in super facilities with 1700 stall holders. Everyone was friendly and helpful. Fairs of this magnitude offer the best opportunity for those in the trade to shop for bargains. While we enjoy shopping in individual stores and centres, we find the majority of our inventory at the big fairs.

Another early start to find the best bargains.

Another early start to find the best bargains.

We lucked out with the weather. England was having a wonderful Indian summer and the temperatures were warm and no rain clouds in sight. We paid extra to get in early on the Friday. We were in line by 6:30 a.m. and considering that we were sleep deprived (less than 8 hours during a 48 hour period); we were ready for the gates to open at 7:00.

The film crew is heading our way; time to duck and cover.

The film crew is heading our way; time to duck and cover.

We learned that there are several large buildings and outdoor pitches. Since the weather was cooperating, we decided to shop outdoors first. We hunted for bargains amid the rows of tents and pitches. We found French, English, and German items. We bought well. And we weren’t the only ones. As we carried our bags out to car numerous times, we saw lots of shoppers doing the same. As usual, we played leap frog around television crews filming game shows/reality shows. They are very polite, but often in the way. And we try desperately to stay far away from the television cameras.

Yes, we lost our car. In our defense, we'd only had it one day and although we knew the license plate, there were too many cars.

Yes, we lost our car. In our defense, we’d only had it one day and although we knew the license plate, there were too many cars.

By the end of the day, we were exhausted and tired of all the walking and carrying. Our shipper was not with us and, boy, did we miss him. We had not even been in any of the buildings. We changed up our plans on Saturday, so we could come back the next day and shop some more. We are dedicated!

The Cuckoo at The Cuckoo

The Cuckoo at The Cuckoo

At the end of day one, we ate at The Cuckoo in Alwalton. It’s a country pub and restaurant. There’s nothing quite like a pint of Cider and a loaf of homemade artisan bread at the end of a long day of shopping.

Warm artisan bread.

Warm artisan bread.

We highly recommend the Festival of Antiques at Peterborough. Check out their website at http://www.festivalofantiques.co.uk/

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Ely Cathedral: Checking off the Bucket List

Our antique etching of Ely Cathedral.

Our antique etching of Ely Cathedral.

We’ve had a framed historic etching of Ely Cathedral in our home since we were first married. Our etching shows the Norman building in Ely, England, before disaster struck in 1440. It’s been a goal of ours to visit the cathedral in person and in October, we finally made it there on a break during our October antique shopping trip in the UK.

The Galilee Porch and main entrance. The missing northwest transept would have matched the southwest transept.

The Galilee Porch and main entrance. The missing northwest transept would have matched the southwest transept.

We took the train to Peterborough, where we picked up our rental car and headed southeast to the town of Ely. As we approached, the Cathedral rose over the flat fens. Several rivers feed the mostly agricultural area. In fact, Ely is built on the remains of a clay-mud island. Parking in the center of town (yay for car parks!), we trekked up High Street to the Cathedral. Beautiful grounds and parklands surround the medieval buildings. It did not disappoint.

We approached the Cathedral from the north.

We approached the Cathedral from the north.

The first monastery at Ely was founded in 673 by Etheldreda, a Saxon Princess. The Vikings destroyed the monastery in 870 and the Benedictines re-founded the monastery in 970. Work began on the present building in 1080. The monastery became a Cathedral in 1109. It took one hundred years to build and other bits were added through the years. Then, the disaster!

In 1322, the Norman central tower collapsed. It was replaced with an incredible engineered timbered structure. Massive trees were used to form supports for the roof. Then, in 1440 the northwest transept, which had been structurally failing because of the land, collapsed and was removed.

The Octagon and lantern built after the center tower collapsed.

The Octagon and lantern built after the center tower collapsed.

The Cathedral was attacked by more than building defects. Henry VIII closed the monastery in 1539 and in 1541, all the windows were smashed and sculptures removed or defaced. Oliver Cromwell forced the closure of the Cathedral in 1653 and it remained closed until 1670. In 1699, part of the north transept collapsed.

From the choir stalls and carved seats (misericords), which date from the 14th century.

From the choir stalls and carved seats (misericords), which date from the 14th century.

Today, the Cathedral is a mix of styles from over 800 years. It is a beautiful holy place. A true blessing to those that visit it.

The east window tells the story of Jesus' life, death and resurrection.

The east window tells the story of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.

Lastly, we did manage to visit the Waterside Antiques Centre at the Wharf of the Great Ouse River and had a nice afternoon tea next door at Peacocks Tea Room.

Peacocks Tea Room serves inside or outside in the garden.

Peacocks Tea Room serves inside or outside in the garden.

Interesting note: Ely is probably named so because of the centuries of their massive eel fishing industry. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to try eel while we were there! We also missed the May Eel Festival. Darn.

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Haggling over Antiques.

Philip's ready to make a deal at the Sparks Kansas Flea Market.

Philip’s ready to make a deal at the Sparks Kansas Flea Market.

So a guy walks into an antique store and says, “So, has the “American Pickers” changed your business?”

Nope, it’s not the beginning of a joke. It actually happens in our store about once every two weeks. The answer is: we don’t believe it’s impacted our business.

The American Pickers are two guys who go into barns, garages and personal collections of individuals and haggle to buy old industrial parts, signs and memorabilia. They don’t go into retail businesses. They wouldn’t think to come here and if they did, they wouldn’t have the audacity to haggle big-time with Philip. A retail store owner has overhead. You don’t go into Dillard’s and demand a 25 to 50% reduction in price off new inventory. You wait for sales.

Do antique stores run sales? Yes. Do they discount from time to time? Yes. Do they participate in “American Pickers Style” haggling? We doubt it. Can you offer less or ask for a discount? Sure, but there may not be much of a mark up to begin with, so don’t take it personal if your offer is rejected. What about a “cash discount”? Doesn’t hurt to ask.

Haggling is an acceptable practice around the world. Americans haggle over the price of cars. At flea markets, people will negotiate, hopefully politely. Don’t offer too low of a price though. It is offensive to low ball it. At the West Bottoms in Kansas City, we saw lots of signage that clearly stated that stores did not negotiate. Reasonable prices were set in stone.

Know your market. We’ve seen internet shops with European inventory running as much as a 6x markup. You won’t find that in Springfield Missouri. The Midwest antique market has been slow to rebound from the recession. If you are wondering about a fair market price, we usually recommend that people go online and do an advanced search on eBay for “sold” items.

You can trust that we are out looking for good quality items that we can offer to you at a reasonable price. Intense negotiation won’t be necessary.

(Editor’s note: these are simply our opinions)

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Our Lewis and Clark Antiquing Expedition.

Lewis and Clark Expedition Mural in downtown Kansas City.

Lewis and Clark Expedition Mural in downtown Kansas City.

Our son lives in the Kansas City area and we went to see him over the week preceding the Labor Day. So, of course, we planned to antique while he was at work. As it turned out, we spent most of our shopping time along the Missouri River, the old Lewis and Clark stomping grounds. We grabbed our map and emptied the van.

On the first day, we headed north of Kansas City to Platte City. As luck would have it, the best shopping was found at our first stop, at W.D. Pickers. It’s an actual “antique” mall with over 100 dealers. They carry antiques, not flea market/garage sale leftovers. The staff was friendly and the mall was clean and well organized.

Helpful staff at W.D. Pickers in Platte City, Missouri.

Helpful staff at W.D. Pickers in Platte City, Missouri.

From there, we joined up with the Missouri River and toured Weston Missouri. Heading north, we passed the Lewis and Clark Lake, where in 1804, the expedition passed and noted the large amount of baby geese. They named the lake “Goslings Lake”. We crossed the river into Kansas at Atchison and explored the town and did some limited shopping.

On the banks of the Missouri River at Atchison, Kansas.

On the banks of the Missouri River at Atchison, Kansas.

The Amelia Earhart Birthplace and Childhood Home is a National Historic Site, high on the west bank of the Missouri River.

The Amelia Earhart Birthplace and Childhood Home is a National Historic Site, high on the west bank of the Missouri River.

Early the next morning, we drove to the Sparks Kansas Antique and Collectible Flea Market. National magazines have grouped Sparks in with Brimfield and Round Top, so we were anticipating finding treasures galore. Big disappointment! This market cannot hold its own in the leagues of other national markets. The magazines got this one wrong. There are many vendors, but the choice items were non-existent. It took us less than 4 hours to walk the entire town and neighboring farms.

Finding stuff in a barn in Sparks, Kansas.

Finding stuff in a barn in Sparks, Kansas.

Yay for shade trees at the Sparks Kansas Antique and Collectible Flea Market.

Yay for shade trees at the Sparks Kansas Antique and Collectible Flea Market.

With temperatures in the low 90’s, we decided to move on to the next town, White Cloud. So following the Missouri River, our small expedition loaded into the van and headed north to the Nebraska state line. A small main street with shops and tents lined the way to a field where a tiny cluster of tents were set up.

Traveling on the roads and enjoying the scenery is a perk of antiquing. The flood land is flat near the river, but in this part of the four states, the rolling hills are steep, and towns are built on the bluffs. The glaciers that forced into the area 600,000 years ago made beautiful landscapes. We did one more stop in Leavenworth and went back to Kansas City for dinner with our son.

The next morning, we shopped on the First Friday weekend at the West Bottoms. We’ve written about West Bottoms before. It’s still a shopping destination and parking lots were full. We were there for the better part of a day. This is a good source for us to spot trends. The sellers are good at design and vignettes. We saw a lot of painted furniture and signs, and industrial seems to still be popular.

The picking was good in the West Bottoms of Kansas City.

The picking was good in the West Bottoms of Kansas City.

Most of the venues in the West Bottoms are located in huge old warehouses, which is part of the charm.

Most of the venues in the West Bottoms are located in huge old warehouses, which is part of the charm.

Others were having good luck picking at West Bottoms.

Others were having good luck picking at West Bottoms.

On Saturday, we headed up to antique stores in Parkville, Missouri, again on the Missouri River. It’s a cute little town, but no antiques that interested us. Over to Claycomo and then, crossing the river, we headed to the River Market. They have a Facebook page and it looked interesting; however, they don’t have our kind of stuff. Mostly 1960s retro. We’d say skip it.

Andrew is working on a project in Parkville, so we had to check it out.

Andrew is working on a project in Parkville, so we had to check it out.

River Market was a bust for us.

River Market was a bust for us.

It was a great week; we covered the Kansas City metro antique area (much more than we listed here), bought new inventory for the store and spent several evenings visiting with Andrew. A shout out to Damian and Alvina, who minded the store while we were out and about, following the river.

Hope you enjoyed our travel tale. Stop in the store and take a gander at the pickings!

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Closed on Labor Day.

We will be closed on Monday, September 7 for the Labor Day holiday.

We will also have limited hours this week, from Wednesday to Saturday-September 2-5, so if you are coming in from out-of-town, make sure you call and let us know you are coming to see us. Damian and Alvina will be manning the store, while we prepare to bring in some new items!!

Thanks for your interest and for helping spread the word about our store. 

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