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No more shopping at the department store
column: Vintage Vixen

By Starr Keller

I think I am getting older.

Well, I am getting older, actually. I am less-than-12-months away from being a whole new decade … and I am not saying which one.

There are all of these indications that I am aging: I cannot stand loud music or television … staying up past 10 p.m. makes me exhausted the next day .… I drive the speed limit (that might have something to do with my two speeding tickets in a 6-month period) … I can preserves now and I want my own chickens … I watch reruns of the Jetsons and the Flintstones with my son, and I am guilty of using phrases like, “When I was growing up…” and “I’m counting! One, two…”

Hmphf. I guess it comes with the territory.

One thing I like about my recent realization that I am aging, however, is that I am also spawning this real obsession with never shopping at department stores. It sounds a little odd, but so very true. I don’t think I have seen a debit receipt for Wal-Mart or the like for nearly eight months. And, dear readers, I absolutely love it.

I have the wonderful advantage of working here (obviously) and what comes with that is I get the opportunity to go to really great area antique shows, shops and malls. So I no longer pine for trips down the run-of-the-store-mill aisles. I’d much rather hunt for something that I see, then love enough to buy – and then take it home and like and use it for a long, long time.

In the past two years, as my little boy has become to be able to travel more (and have a longer attention span), he accompanies me on said excursions. We look forward to sharing that time during the outings, which has lead to many interesting discussions, and ultimately, the formation of several ideals – for both of us.

A few examples are as follows:

Jonah: “Momma, why do people buy old stuff?”

Me: “Well, because it’s not brand new and it’s like recycling.”

Jonah: “Well, I really like old stuff.”

Me: “That’s why I love antique malls.”

Jonah: “That’s interesting.”

I was raised in a rather conservative home: my father worked as a journeyman lineman, my step-mom stayed home and raised us kiddos. We had a gigantic garden that I despised then, but now pine after the idea that my own garden will be that great someday, and we did tons of canning, freezing, etc. We weren’t a family who went on shopping sprees or just randomly picked things up in the aisles. Everything was calculated and there wasn’t much room for “stuff.”

Raising a child in this day and age, I am learning and striving to be as conservative as possible. In short, I’d rather my son have fewer cheap plastic (junk) toys from China and more culture, access to a good education later in life, and ultimately, a foundation that is built on the ideals that conservation – in all senses – is the best thing for all of us.

Thus, when we go to The Springfield Antique Show, or Exit 76 Antique Mall, or Heart of Ohio Antique Center, Jonah has a few crisp dollars burning holes in his Cars wallet for new books or a vintage truck. He is learning to be on the lookout for what he can afford. And I love it!

Here at AntiqueWeek, we have made a conscious effort to support and report on the “green movement” that is taking place in the antique industry. There is quite a bit of light being shed on the advantages of buying antiques: You are purchasing something that has already been created – and so buying a piece like this also means you are not taking something off the shelf at a department store, so that more precious resources must be used to make a “replacement” piece.

Fro example, I really, really wanted a little table for my porch – I just bought my dream 1940s porch glider and matching chairs (I adore them!) and I just needed something to set my drink on while I read, etc. A year or so ago, I’d head out to Target, Wal-Mart … Meijers.

But you know, I am finding that as I get older, those things just don’t delight me.

They don’t make my heart beat fast, and ultimately, I’ll fall out of love exactly one season after I buy them. So then the table goes to Goodwill, or the recycling.

If I go in search of an antique – whether a fine piece or not – I most likely will be making an investment, bringing something into my home and my family that can be passed down, and I will not be contributing to this disposable society that is the 21st century.

Antiquing itself is a treasure hunt – you don’t have to drop thousands of dollars on something for it to be functional. If my son decides to carve his play saw (who knew plastic edges could literally gnarl wood?) into the edge of a 1970s trunk-turned-coffee-table…well, it does irk me, but I didn’t pay tons of money for it.

It is functional for our space, and if I get tired of looking at the grooves my four year old created someday, I can surely use it somewhere else in my house.

And Jonah’s response to the little bit of tongue lashing he received for the feat?

“Well, momma – it’s old. And it’s recycled.”

Point and case well made.

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