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Posts Tagged ‘Secondhand’

Vancouver Flea Market

One of the most recognized buildings in Vancouver is the long red barn-like building on Terminal Avenue. A landmark in the city since the early 1900s, the building was once rumoured to be a hanger for building aircraft during WWII. In 1984 it was converted into the Vancouver Flea Market and quickly became a favourite weekend destination for novice and seasoned secondhand shopping enthusiasts.

By the mid 90s things had changed. The flea market’s reputation became tarnished as it was known as a place for thieves to sell their wares. By 2001 Vancouver police launched “Operation Flea Collar” confiscating stolen items from 24 different booths at the market.

Fortunately, the Vancouver Flea Market came under new management in 2002 and a conscious effort has been made to return the market to what it once was–a safe and fun place to hunt for bargains. The flea market’s manager, Fabian Rumeo, is committed to continuing the clean up. “I want to make this a place where parents can bring their children, like a day at the PNE.” He does agree that it is still a work in progress, but with a new caliber of dealers and the inclusion of antique and collectible shows, they are well on their way.

The Vancouver Flea Market has one of the largest covered markets in the Metro Vancouver and is open all year with what they like to call their weekend “yard sales”. The market has close to 40,000 square feet and 360 tables filled with everything you can imagine – both old and new. The market attracts both novice and seasoned dealers, so you never you know what you will find. And, at least four times a year they host and Antique and Collectible sale. From collectibles and memorabilia to everyday household items, they hope to have something for everyone in the family. They even have a cafeteria onsite that offers breakfast and coffee to help start the day.

The Flea Market is located at 703 Terminal Ave., Vancouver (604) 685-0666. Open every Saturday, Sunday – 9am to 5pm, and Holidays 10am to 4pm. The next Antique and Collectible Sale is scheduled for Saturday, June 5, 2010. Admission for the regular flea market is .75 cents and $1.50 for the antique shows.

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Several years ago I used to offer secondhand shopping tours called Secondhand Safaris all across Metro Vancouver. In tour buses, supplied by the late great Dan Tapp at Explore BC, we would venture to consignment stores, thrift shops, antique shows and so much more. In groups, sometimes as big as 75 and mostly women, we would set out for the day and stop at some of our city’s finest secondhand shops and shows.

These tours were quite unique and a lot of fun. There is something to be said about heading out on a secondhand shopping spree with a large group of like minded folks – who all love to scour through thrift shops, consignment boutiques, vintage stores as well as antique shows and flea markets….with the odd stop at a garage sale along the way. There were many fantastic finds but half the fun was just being out having a good time doing what we love to do…together as a group.

It has been a few years since I offered a tour but in thinking about going “on the road” again, I decided I wanted to do something a bit different this time. I wanted to go to London, England and I didn’t want to go alone. It occurred to me that a Secondhand Safari type tour to visit all the incredible London Markets might appeal to others as well. So I approached my good friend Alison at Marlin Travel, who was a partner in crime when starting the original Safari Tours. She jumped on board immediately and put together the most amazing travel package.

London Markets
From Portobello to Petticoat Lane, join Alison from Marlin Travel and Jo-Anne from Secondhand Savvy, for an incredible week in London exploring many of the famous (and lesser known) markets.

The date set is May 22nd, 2010 and the price (based on double occupancy) is $2010 per person (CAD & all taxes included) and includes all of the following:

  • Return airfare from Vancouver to London (all taxes included)
  • Round trip transfers between airport and hotel
  • 7 nights accommodation at The President Hotel *** in Central London
  • Hotel located close to shops, park, pubs, restaurants, and cafés
  • Continental breakfast at the hotel and coffee/tea tray in each room
  • London Visitor Travel Card (6 day pass for London’s Public Transit)
  • Ticket to see one of London’s premier shows (show confirmed before trip)
  • London’s “Hop-On Hop-Off” One Day Bus Pass (stops at key attractions)
  • Essential London ½ Day excursion
  • Marlin Travel Escort and Savvy Shopping Guide
  • Guided tours to as many markets as we can fit in
  • Guide with maps and information for over 60 London Markets
  • Comprehensive Insurance Package (Slight increase in price for traveller’s over 59)
  • EXCLUSIVE BOOKING BONUS Earn 50 BONUS AIR MILES® reward miles! Book by January 31, 2010.

The price will go up after January 31st, so book this week if you are interested! There are some terms and conditions, as with any tour, but if you are interested please contact Alison directly at (604) 438-3356 or 1-866-438-3356 or by Email at Alison.MoodyStuart@MarlinTravel.ca and she will go over all the specifics around this amazing travel package.

This should be a perfect trip for anyone who loves to spend hours at markets and then have a “show and tell” back at the pub in the hotel. There will also be time to visit other local attractions (with the Hop On Hop Off bus pass and the Essential London 1/2 day excursion, for those who can pry themselves away from the markets. And I was recently informed that the Chelsea Flower Show is  is happening May 25-29 which may be another fabulous market to visit for some.

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Main Street Vancouver has gone tree crazy. As one of Vancouver’s most eclectic and vibrant shopping districts it is not surprising that they have launched a colourful new holiday tradition called “Get Your Tree On.” Forty merchants along Main Street have joined forces to decorate Christmas trees and are inviting shoppers to vote on their favourite and enter into a draw for one of two amazing gift baskets. Each store has contributed either a gift certificate or product from their store towards the gift baskets, making each basket worth just over $1000…definitely making it worth while to head over to Main Street this week and to vote for your favourite tree.

Shoppers can vote either online at www.shopmain.ca or at a ballot box located at Re-Entry Espresso (4363 Main). Voting will be open until December 12th at 12 noon. Flyers with a list of all the tree sites, and a ballot, are available at each of the participating stores. The draw will be held at 2pm on December 12th at Once a Huckleberry Bush (4387 Main Street) along with a performance by the Vancouver Children’s Choir.

There will also be food boxes in each of the participating stores collecting donations for the food banks at St. Michael’s Church on Broadway.

Each tree is quite different and appears to reflect the personality of the store along with its owners. Bodacious (shown above) has showcased a stunning green “plus size” gown as their tree and and in similar fashion, Solid Threads (3851 Main Street) has decorated a mannequin in a vintage green dress as their entry.

Echo Unique Resale (3553 Main Street) has gone a very different route and had children (and some adults) draw pictures of trees. The drawings are very sweet and offer a unique approach to this competition.

Down the road, Public Lounge has also enlisted the help of children and had them make tree ornaments out of wine corks to look like reindeer and angels. They were done by children in the after school program at the Mount Pleasant Community Centre.

Vintage trees and ornaments were also popular for many of the store owners. Laura Frederick from Dandelion Emporium used a vintage “tinsel” tree from the 1960’s and decorated it with gold army men ornaments made by local artist Laura Skuse (Exskuse Design). The tree is standing on the Branch Table by designer Harry Allen. Neptoon Records and CDs also used some classic vintage ornaments on their tree and Sellution Vintage Furniture (3206 Main Street) put their unique spin on things by using antique tea cups, broaches, and silver as decorations.

The spirit of giving was also an important theme for some stores. Bohemia Gallery/The Loft decorated their tree with warm mittens, gloves, hats and scarves…all of which will be donated to St. Michael’s church to support families in need. Two of Hearts Clothing (3728 Main Street) had local designers create ornaments for their tree and are all for sale with 100% of the purchase supporting the Adoptive Family Association.

Yummy treats also made their way on to a few trees. Tina Teoli from Miranda’s Hat (3860 Main Street) decorated her tree with candy…and with each purchase shoppers get to grab a piece from the tree to take home. In a slightly different approach, the tree at Life of Riley (3697 Main Street) had dog biscuits attached with red bows.

Artistic expression featured well throughout all of the trees. Barbara from Plush used beautiful green fabric to create her tree while artists from Arts Off Main designed their own decorations to reflect their art being sold in the shop. The tree on display at Body Politic also showcased handmade ornaments by local designers and the tree at Scala was decorated with paper cut outs, all individually created. Kiddo Consignment was also quite clever with their tree…they used white hangers to create the silhouette of a Christmas tree.

Although all the trees were beautifully and thoughtfully decorated, and I am sorry that I couldn’t list them all here, two stand out for me a bit more than the rest. I was pleasantly surprised when I walked into On The Fringe Hair Design and saw that they had used red hair extensions as tinsel and gold hair rollers as ornaments…but even more captivating was the “corset tree” that was on display at Lace Embrace Atelier…a very provocative approach indeed!

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**Quick update on Cheapskates: The storefront at 19th and Dunbar will be closing in October 2009. The building has been sold. As a result they will operate only one store, the one at 3644 West 16th Ave, and this will affect what they are able to consign. Call them directly for more information: 604-222-1125


I noticed the most wonderful sign this morning – Free Ski and Snowboard Boots! It wasn’t in a laneway but rather at a local sports consignment store called Cheapskates. They seemed to have a terrific selection of all types of sizes and makes. Definitely a great find for anyone wanting to learn to ski or snowboard this season. This way you can save some money on the boots while being able to rent the rest of the gear. Also, I have learned that by putting money into a pair of inserts, that can make any boot work.

Cheapskates has been a regular fixture in the Dunbar neighbourhood for over 20 years. What started out with one little store has grown into a formidable presence at the corner of 16th and Dunbar. There used to be four locations but now there are two, both located within walking distance: Cheapskates One (3644 W16th Ave, Vancouver) and Cheapskates 19 (3496 Dunbar St., Vancouver). Here you can pretty much find every kind of used sports equipment. Barry Gilpin, the owner, likes to think of this as his own sporting goods department store -“but one with sidewalks instead of escalators taking you to the different departments.”

Barry has been a sports enthusiast most of his life and after having accumulated excessive amounts of sports equipment, he decided that there had to be a way to recycle and resell all of it. He had previously been in the real estate business but decided to start his own sporting goods business after he had swapped a house in Gibsons for a storefront business in Vancouver.

Times were different back then, people bought secondhand because of necessity and it was not as socially acceptable to purchase used goods as it is today. Barry remembers one woman who came from across town to buy used equipment for her kids and liked that it was out of the way, none of her friends or family knew that she was buying things secondhand. But he also started the business at a time when recycling was becoming more prominent. And this changed everything.

After a few years in business he outgrew the first storefront location, but instead of going after a larger building he decided to open up a second store and split up the different kinds of sporting equipment. This led to Cheapskates Too at the corner of Dunbar and 17th, and two years later Cheapskates Fore a few doors down, and finally Cheapskates 19 at Dunbar and 19th.

The stores evolved into departments, each with its own specific type of inventory: Cheapskates 1 -skating, hockey, soccer, baseball and exercise equipment; Cheapskates Too -bicycles and parts; Cheapskates Fore -golf, racquets, and inline skates; and Cheapskates 19 -skis, snowboards, snowshoes, camping equipment, and ski clothes. This allowed Barry and his staff to keep better track on the inventory and to become very knowledgeable in each area.

Everything is sold on consignment, and the prices are discounted over time. Barry also made a decision in the beginning to only mail out the cheques so as to discourage people from trying to sell stolen merchandise. He currently has thousands of consignees who cover a large geographic area including the Kootenay’s, Vancouver Island, Lower Mainland, and even the U.S. And he has a very diverse client base.

According to Barry, “no two days are ever the same. The stock is always changing and this keeps it interesting.” He is very proud of the business that he and his wife have built together and he loves what he does and he does it well. “We try to focus on what we do and then do the best job we can with what we have.”

He has also made a strong commitment to the community and has created a unique way of donating to charity. He has a wonderful system in place where people can drop off used sports equipment and then have the proceeds of the sale go to a charity of their choice. He currently has accounts set up for the Boys and Girls Clubs, Amnesty International, KidSport, Heart and Stroke Foundation, Junior League Sunshine Wheels, and the Hearing Impaired Foundation. But he can also arrange to send the money to different charities if you provide him with all the necessary contact information.

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21c Flea Market Sept 09 MatchesDeciding to tackle clutter is a major endeavour, but it is one that can actually pay for itself. As savvy secondhand shoppers we know the social, environmental and economical value of not buying new. We live in an era where we can be proud of our frugal buys but we must also be just as conscious when deciding to get rid of it.

The challenge is to figure out the best possible way to dispose of our accumulated possessions, often referred to as clutter. Unfortunately not everything will be sellable but again not everything needs to go into the trash. Some careful sorting ahead of time will help you to figure out the difference.

Keep in mind that selling your stuff won’t necessarily be easy nor will it be quick. There is a misperception out there that all stuff is valuable and that people will pay top dollar for it. This is not so, secondhand shoppers are quite savvy and will shop around until they find what they are looking for and at the price they are willing to pay.

Your job is to make sure that you choose the right venue to sell your clutter and to be prepared to also donate some of it to charity. Some of it will need to be tossed out, but make sure that before you do throw it in the garbage that you check to see if it is recyclable.

Once you have sorted through your clutter and organized the stuff that needs to go, it is time to decide where it goes. Arriving at this step in the process is a huge accomplishment, so take a moment and congratulate yourself on getting this far.

Step One – Take Stock

Make an inventory of all the stuff that you wish to get rid of. Take a few minutes to physically go around your home and write down all the things that need to go. Sometimes it is easier to focus on one room at a time.

Step Two – Categorize

On another sheet, write the following headings on the top of the page: Trash, Recycle, Give Away, Donate, Storage, and Sell. Now go back to your previous list and start to place items in the appropriate columns. For all categories except the sell column, collect the items and place in bags or boxes, making them ready to give away or for storage. For the items you wish to donate, contact your favourite charity and make arrangements to get it to them. If you need some ideas, check the Charity section in the Online Directory. With all these items taken care of, now you can tackle those you wish to sell.

Step Three – Preparing to Sell

Look at all the items in the sell category.

For each item:

1.Make sure you want to sell it.
2.Make sure it is sellable.
3.Make sure you have the time and energy to sell it.
4.Make any necessary changes to the list.

Step Four – Figure Out Where to Sell It

There about nine main ways to sell your clutter. Each is a bit different and requires some thought and careful planning. Good to do your homework ahead of time to see which way would work best for you and your stuff. The GVRD has published a wonderful little resource online that acts as a directory to many of the services listed below. It is called 101 Things to do with all your old stuff.

1. Classifieds

This is a standard method, used by many for specific items. Traditionally people have used their local papers to sell furniture, electronics, and higher priced items. Today there are many different publications available in print and on the Internet. Make sure you choose the right publication. You can often do a lot of the screening ahead of time on the phone or through Email, quickly finding serious buyers. Tip: Posting on local sites like Craigslist or Used Vancouver is free and can generate results quickly.

2. Garage Sales

Another common approach, but seasonal. Can be time consuming, but this is a great way to get rid of a lot of clutter all at once. Keep prices low and be willing to negotiate. The whole point of a garage sale is to get rid of stuff. You can make money, but usually through volume not high ticket items. TIP: Good signage is key, always have arrows on your sign pointing people in the right direction…this works especially well for the “drive-bys.”

3. Flea Markets/Swap Meets

If you have a lot of stuff, but would prefer to not have people come to your home, you can always purchase a table at a local community flea market or swap meet. Often you can get a table anywhere from $10 to $55 and you can usually make that money back because of the sheer volume of people coming to the event. Key here again is to have attractive displays, know your prices, and be willing to negotiate. TIP: Check out listings in Market Market to find out about upcoming flea markets and swap meets in and around Vancouver.

4. Auctions

An often underused resource, auction houses will not only purchase estate items but everyday housewares as well. Make sure when you contact them that you find out about their various fees, consignment process, and how they calculate the final price. Most auction houses have auctions on a weekly basis and can get fair prices for your items and many list items on their Web sites. TIP: Best to visit some of the auctions during preview times to see if they would be a good fit.

5. Consignment Stores

Traditionally these stores have focused on selling clothing and sports equipment on consignment. That is, the selling price is split between the seller and the store owner. Now, you can use this same process for everyday housewares including furniture, kitchen items, books, small appliances, antiques, collectibles, and so much more. Keep in mind that each store has their own consignment process and will only keep items in stock for a few months at a time. Many consignment stores have their own Web sites that outline their basic expectations. TIP: Good to do your homework ahead of time, often you can email them a photo of what you are looking to sell and they will let you know if they can sell it for you.

6. Antique Stores

Every antique store seems to have its own specific area of expertise. Important to call around first to see which store might be the right one for you to approach with your antiques and collectibles. Some stores will buy outright whereas others will consign your items. If you are unsure of the exact value of something, it may be useful to have it appraised before you take it to an antique store. Generally most store owners are quite knowledgeable and will give you an honest assessment of what your items might be worth. TIP: Good to have photos of your antiques to either Email the stores or to show them in person.

7. Dealers

There are also a special group of people who buy and sell items without having a store front. They are called dealers and will often sell items through flea markets, swap meets, and antique shows. They usually collect very specific types of items and are also quite knowledgeable and will pay a fair price. TIP: The best way to find them is through word of mouth and by going to various events and shows and talking to them in person. Often, with smaller items, you can take them with you and see what they say. Or, you can also take pictures.

8. Used/Secondhand Stores

These are stores that will usually buy items outright, like books, records/CDs, instruments, electronics, computers, furniture, housewares, sports equipment, and more. Again, it is always good to call each store to see what they might pay for your item. Prices and the buying criteria will vary from store to store. TIP: Best to call them in advance to find out if they will purchase your items and at what price.

9. Vintage/Retro Stores

These are specific stores that will purchase vintage/retro items such as clothing, jewellery, accessories, and housewares. Although some may sell a few items on consignment, generally vintage/retro store owners will purchase items outright and often they collect stock through a variety of sources. TIP: Every store is a bit different, so best to call in advance to let them know what you have.

Step Five – Start making all the calls and start turning your clutter into cash!

Step 6 – Still feeling overwhelmed?

Maybe time to revisit the list or consider hiring a professional or getting some support to move through the process. Vancouver has some well respected consultants in this are; Out of Chaos and Paul Talbot.

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Bohemia Gallery Front WindowBohemia Gallery (3243 Main Street @ 16th), one of Vancouver’s best kept consignment store secrets, welcomes local designer Karen Green, from ODP Designs, to The Loft. Jann Purcell, Bohemia’s owner, is thrilled to showcase ODP Designs and passionately believes that Karen’s designs are a perfect fit with her belief and life philosophy that “fashion is art”. Karen’s designs, all one-of-a kind pieces, are reconstructed from recycled clothing and fabric and reflect her love of all things unique and beautiful. Knowing no boundaries, Karen’s designs create cultural connections by mixing fabrics and fusing them in the most unexpected and exciting ways.

Bohemia and ODP Fall Fashion Show TrioTogether, Jann and Karen are no strangers to the fashion industry, between them they have over 40 years experience. Jann has worked 20 years in fashion retail and opened Bohemia Gallery in 2004 with her daughter Ashlee. Five years later, with her son Jason and his wife Taryn now part of the business, they have expanded the store to include the upstairs portion, called The Loft, and have over 3000 square feet of retail space. With a blend of contemporary, retro and vintage clothing and accessories for both men and women, their store can best be described as “boho chic meets retro crazy.”

Karen started designing her own clothing at an early age and created her own distinctive look – first for herself and then for her children. Eventually her passion for fashion led her to start her own fashion line – ODP Designs. With the loving support of her family, Karen has grown her fashion line to include everything from reconstructed sweaters and kilts to beautiful wedding gowns that are crafted from a unique multi-cultural mix of fabric.

Bohemia and ODP Fall Fashion Show Green Dress

This past week, Karen and Jann joined forces to host their first fashion show in the Loft, upstairs in the Bohemia Gallery. It was an incredible success with over 200 people in attendance. Jann showcased vintage fashions and clothing from the late 70s and early 80s, reminding us that what is old is definitely new again. The models (both men and women) presented a visual feast of bright colours with shiny gold accents as accessories (everything they wore came from the store). Their silhouettes were framed by striking hair pieces.

Bohemia and ODP Fall Fashion Show GoldKaren’s models (again both men and women) on the other hand were more muted in colour, but vibrant in layers of texture and fabric. All of her designs are unique and can best be described as Victorian Romanticism meets the streets of Vancouver. From everyday wear to Celtic inspired wedding gowns and stylish kilts and sweaters for men, her clothing not only blends texture and fabric but various fashion eras as well.

Bohemia and ODP Fall Fashion Show Wedding Dresses 2

The evening was both festive and fun. I look forward to their next event, as I am sure it won’t disappoint.

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Just thought I would let folks know that at the West Point Grey Rummage Sale tomorrow – Sunday 2pm to 4pm – they will be selling everything at terrific prices. I also heard that they will sell bags for $5 and then you get to stuff as much of what you can into that bag. Great deal, especially if you are looking for clothing.

I was there today and I must say, they have a huge amount of stock to go through. Well worth your while if you can get out there on Sunday. I am sure you won’t be disappointed. I was particularly impressed with the vast selection of clothing for men, women, and children. I came away with some great finds.

Address is listed below in my previous post.

Also, for anyone wanting to check out the Ladner Market (one of my favourites over the summer), tomorrow is their last day for this year. And I heard that a Zydeco band will be playing…should be rather festive. This market starts at 10am and is held in the downtown core of Ladner…you can’t miss it as there is tons of signage leading you there.

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clothing exchangeA few years back I had the opportunity to participate in a unique gathering that brought together all the elements for a terrific night out: good friends, fine wine, great food, and a massive pile of clothes. The evening was part of a seasonal gathering called the “clothing exchange,” where women swap their unwanted clothes and have a bit of a social at the same time.

In order to find out how to organize one, I consulted with my friend Suzanne who is one of the more seasoned veterans of this process. She has been involved with clothing exchanges, sometimes called “the games,” for over 15 years and continues to love this process. “It is the best thing,” she says. “You take a bag of stuff you no longer want and/or have outgrown and come home with a bag of amazing new finds – all without spending a dime.”

The social aspect is above all central, but the added benefits are many. Not only do you get to clean out your closets, you also get to see some of your stuff go to a good home and the rest to charity. There is no waste and the process is fun with just the right amount of sport to keep it interesting. And, you get to go home with some great new clothes.

Hosting a “clothing exchange” party is easy and fun. Suzanne jokingly says that there are no rules – but there are a few to keep in mind. Below are Suzanne’s tips for having the best “Great Canadian Clothing Exchange Party.”

The Basics:

  1. Need between 9 – 15 women for it to really work.
  2. Good to invite a variety of women (different sizes) with a mixture of tastes and styles. It also helps to mix social circles.
  3. Everyone should come with at least one large bag of clothes and accessories (shoes, hats, belts, etc.).
  4. Provide refreshments and snacks or make it a potluck. (Trying on all those clothes can make a person hungry)
  5. If you plan on doing this more than once, create a core group of four to five women who will always be invited…keeping “the games alive.”
  6. Need to alternate the other people you invite so as not to keep getting the same stuff each time.
  7. Good to offer these parties seasonally.
  8. Whatever is left over at the end of the evening gets donated to charity by the party host.

Planning Process:

  1. Make sure your home can accommodate 9-15 women trying on clothes. If not, consider using a friend’s home that may have more space.
  2. Set the date a few weeks in advance. It is generally better to offer it during the week, but if you want more of a social…the weekend is best.
  3. Invite people over at around 7:30. This allows some time for socializing before “the games” begin, which should promptly start at 8:00 and go to about 10.00.
  4. Invite your core group and the rest. You need at least 9 women to make it work, but up to 15 is ideal. Always a good idea to invite a few more as some people may cancel.
  5. Good to call a few days in advance to confirm, making sure you have enough time to invite others if you need to.
  6. When choosing the group, make sure you are inviting people who enjoy secondhand clothes and this type of event.

The Night Of:

  1. Clear a space in your home that will comfortably fit up to 15 women and one massive pile of clothes.
  2. Make sure that you have enough mirrors handy so that people can check to see that things fit properly. You might even ask a few people to bring over some stand up mirrors. Spread the mirrors in different rooms, allowing privacy for those who need it.
  3. Because of how everyone will be trying on clothes, possibly stripping to their knickers in the open, best to not have husbands/boyfriends and children around. This could make some people feel a bit uncomfortable.
  4. As people arrive have them dump their clothes in the pile and quickly cover it so no one gets the “advantage.” You need to make sure that you have a few large blankets handy to cover the pile adequately.

Let “the games” Begin:

Once everyone has arrived, go over the “rules” before you start.

  • There are really no rules, BUT…
  • Have fun, first and foremost
  • Everyone is to create a circle around the pile
  • The host counts to three and then everyone helps to remove the blankets together
  • Each person grabs the clothes and accessories that she is interested in and creates a personal pile. No one can take from that pile, but they can call “dibs” just in case you decide you that don’t want it. If no one has called dibs, it goes back into the pile as “incoming” or “seconds” so that people know to go and check it out.
  • There should be several stations set up where people can try things on.

Some Tips:

  • Good to go in with both a playful and assertive attitude
  • Know what you like, especially in terms of colours and textures
  • Make quick assessments
  • Move quickly, don’t dawdle
  • Grab everything that is of interest to you and place it in your pile–you can always throw it back in if you don’t want it
  • Don’t take it personally when people aren’t going after the clothes you brought

At The End:

Once everyone is done creating her own pile, all the clothes that are left over are sent to charity. The host usually deals with this aspect, but can ask if people have some favourite charities that they like to donate clothes to. Always a good idea to call the charities ahead of time to make sure they are in need of the clothes. Many have outlined what they need and how they accept clothes. Some will even pick them up like the Canadian Diabetes Association, Big Brothers, and Developmental Disabilities Association. Many of these charities also have deposit bins conveniently located throughout the city.

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Bby Lake - OverviewWith dreary cement floors and retractable bleachers, transforming a community centre’s ice rink into a shimmery showcase of British Columbia’s (B.C.)  finest antiques is no easy endeavour. But the Burnaby Lake Antiques Fair, recently held at the Bill Copeland Arena in Burnaby, accomplished just that and more.

Held on August 29 – 30, 2009, 65 vendors from across B.C. showcased their wares to an impressive crowd of just over 3,000 people. The two day event, now in its 8th year, is considered by many to be one of the best antique shows on the West Coast.

Even before the doors opened at 10am, the eager shoppers (who had already been in line since before 9am) were privy to a bird’s eye view of the show from the wall-to-wall windows overlooking the impressive displays below—further fueling their fervor to get in to the show. Without losing their place in the long line up, they would take turns to see if they could spot their favourite dealers while studying the detailed floor plan.

Dealers, avid collectors, and weekend shopping enthusiasts were all united in one objective–to be among the first to seek out elusive treasures, much coveted collectibles, and perhaps something a little unexpected.

Bby Lake - Joy of CookingI even found something that I didn’t expect. A 1943 copy of The Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer. Because it was a well used cookbook and not in mint condition, I paid only $5 for it. I rummage through cookbooks the same way I go through magazines, I go through them thoroughly and often. I am especially excited when I find older cookbooks that have clippings and other recipes neatly tucked away in the pages. From this book, I found a lovely recipe for chicken Bby Lake - Joy of Cooking open bookwings that I intend to try making soon. Recently inspired by Julie and Julia, the new movie that captures Julia Child’s life in post war France, I have rekindled my love of cooking. So this 1943 edition was a perfect find. Now if I could only source out a first edition of Julia’s book Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

Producing a successful antique show is like choreographing an intricate dance. All the elements–from recruiting dealers to coping with a thousand last minute details to the instant the doors open to the public, must work in complete harmony. Synchronizing such an event requires leadership, juggling skills, diplomacy, and a talent for “rolling with the punches.”

Renee Lafontaine, of 21st Century Promotions, possesses all these attributes and then some. A former antiques dealer, she has a knack for bringing together some of the best dealers in the area and with her keen eye and meticulous attention to detail she keeps it all flowing smoothly.

Bby Lake - Plane phone“You never know quite what to expect,” she said with a laugh. “I remember when I organized my first show and it had decided to snow that day.  I was so worried that no one would come.” But they did come, despite the weather, and she has never looked back. She now produces 12 shows in the Lower Mainland. Local appraiser Gail Pirie is also on hand at most shows to offer appraisals. You can find a complete listing of all Renee’s shows on her Web site at http://www.21cpromotions.com

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As part of my love of all things secondhand, I have become known as a person who can find just about anything. And, along those lines I am also known for finding a good home for most things. It’s not something I do for money, but rather for sport. I truly believe that there is always someone looking for something that you might want to get rid of…the trick is finding them.

In the Vancouver area there are now many wonderful ways to sell or donate your stuff but where some people get stuck is finding a home for things that matter. For those who are not sentimental, this is not an issue. But for the rest of us who get easily attached to things and the stories that go along with them…letting go is not easy.

If we can find a friend, family member, or even a stranger who might cherish or need that object then letting it go is much easier. My dear friend Mollie’s husband recently passed away, he was 84. They had been married for over 60 years and up until a few months ago, they were both still living in their own apartment. After he died, she went through all his clothing and asked if I could help her find a place to donate everything. Down the street from her there was a donation bin, but she didn’t want to send it to Value Village. She wanted his clothing to make a more personal impact for someone. There was quite a bit of clothing, ranging from casual everyday wear to more formal suits.

I contacted a few charities that I know and was eventually able to drop off all five bags to a drop-in program that is run by the Developmental Disabilities Association here in Vancouver. Many of the people who use their services are often on income assistance and don’t always have the funds to buy good quality clothing…especially suits and ties.

Mollie came with me as it was important to know where it was going. It was somehow comforting for her to know that her husband’s clothing would directly benefit a group of men who could really use it. Sharon, the manager of the facility, came out and personally greeted us and thanked Mollie for the donation. She also later followed up with a Thank You card. This meant the world to Mollie and gave meaning to having to let go of her husband’s clothing.

This was a good match, one that had a huge impact on many levels. But sometimes I am also asked to find homes for things that are kind of fun and even a tad quirky. My latest challenge is to find a home for an older model Hohner Accordion. It comes equipped with the case, stand and how-to books. The owner used to play it but is downsizing. He doesn’t want to sell it but rather find a good home for it. In speaking with a musician friend, looks like we might be able to match it up with a student from the Waldorf school on the North Shore who is keen to learn to play.

And, last but not least my friend Jamie contacted me today to see if I could help him track down a pair of wooden oars 6’6″ or longer…if anyone has any leads let me know!

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