I started attending Vintage at the Yard years ago when their events were monthly during the warm months. It was the market where people who wanted to could go “junking” looking for antique or vintage items that needed a little love, a little sprucing, and pay bottom dollar prices for them. This was my kind of shopping. Other much more beautiful, polished, painted items were also available, but none prettier than the booth run by the woman who makes the entire market possible, Diana Walker.
The outdoor market at the Fruit Yard now occurs twice yearly, once in the spring and once in the fall. Over the years, I attended by myself, with my children, or with my husband. Children 12 and under always get in free. For the rest, it’s only $3. We found medieval room decor for my son, scooters and two-person tricycles for my children, metal dollhouses, child-size chairs, and many things that are so integrated into our lives that it feels like they’ve always been there.
It was only a matter of time before I ended up selling vintage there myself.
I saw our storage and shelves fill up after our family began browsing estatesales.net on Fridays, my husband’s day off, and hitting the local sales with promising photos.
With my friend, who sells vintage and current clothing on Poshmark, we applied as vendors and got our spot. Vendor check-in closed at 8 a.m. The event started at 9 a.m.
This meant we rose earlier than we would have liked, and even earlier still as my eager 12-year-old rose with the sun “to experience helping run a booth” at Vintage at the Yard. We packed the truck the night before, left at 7:15 a.m. in two vehicles, arrived, checked in, located spot #39, and began the long haul of carrying things to our grassy knoll. The ground was wet. My boots were weak. Before long, my soaks were soaked.
Still, once set up, I drank my coffee and began to wake up, despite the shivers of the unseasonal mid-spring chill. People gathered outside the gate when the clock turned to 9 a.m.
Customers began pouring in.
Foot traffic was continuous as they shuffled around our crowded booth. It probably took all of five minutes to make my first $2 sale, but it felt much longer. As I stood there, waves of doubt rolled over me. What if no one buys anything? What if I wasted my day? Will I have to haul all this stuff back home? And so on.
But once that first sale happened, the rest was rolling. From 9 a.m. to noon, the traffic was non-stop. The sales were steady. In between, I rearranged, made more space in the center of the booth, and tried to keep things looking good. I stood in the back offering prices to shoppers when I saw them lingering with an item. “Well, I can’t turn that down,” they said. It delighted me.
“It wants to go home with you,” I told a couple of customers.
And I believe it. These old things, through their years and uses, like the toys of Toy Story, have something of a life of their own. Collecting evolves into curating. There was artwork ready to move on, glassware, a few sticks of furniture, and some antiques from my parent’s house that needed a new life.
Meanwhile, my daughter had a job. She watched for other kids and invited them to come to pick a free toy. These toys were largely McDonald’s toys from the 1990s, I think, but whatever they were, there were bags of them stored at my parents, and the toys were a joy to the children and a moment of nostalgia for the parents.
By 1 p.m., the best of the booth was gone. Remnants remained. It looked more like a yard sale booth by then. The crowd shifted from antique lovers and folks in thrifted vintage attire to a more casual drop-by, strolling by, shopping by with the eyes rather than ready cash to dive in, digging for the untold treasures that lay in vintage sales.
And the last vintage sale
Near the end of the 6-hour run, my husband returned. As he moved the truck closer to load up, a man came back and bought the early 1900s Burroughs Adding Machine, the best and most unique item I brought that day. It was the right item for the right customer. There was the obligatory discussion of how unhappy his wife would be with him, but he didn’t mind. He knew the piece was meant for him. And while I sold it for way under value, the goal wasn’t to make millions. It was to rehome these things that deserve a better life than a life of storage, to be loved for the little treasures they are.