(If you prefer, you can listen to this as a podcast! Smells Like Grandma, episode 1 – 5.)

A few weeks ago I spent the weekend washing out old perfume bottles. Well, technically, washing vintage & retro figural eau de cologne bottles – because perfume rarely comes in such bottles. Which is why most of us refer to such bottles as “fragrance bottles,” but collectors consider the category to be “perfume bottles,” a subset of vanity collectibles, or “collectible bottles”, a subset of “decorative collectibles.” But I digress.

I was washing old fragrance bottles. The majority of these were Avon bottles – primarily the figurative types. And perhaps it was the strong smells from the near 100 different bottled grandma scents, but I started giggling.

At the risk of further digression, I feel the need to address a few other things before I completely offend a great number of Avon ladies & Avon fans.

I’ve been an Avon Lady – not once, but twice, including after having reached one of the highest points in the beauty products game by working for Estee Lauder. So I’m not knocking Avon.

Not only is Avon the oldest beauty company in the United States, with a long history of economically empowering women, but Avon has for decades been the #1 fragrance-cosmetic company in the US with high rankings worldwide. Not so much #1 recently (which is a longer story about marketing and changing markets – and corporate buy-outs), but Avon still ranks in the top 10-15 worldwide every year. This means lots more people than grandmas are wearing Avon. But the nickname still holds – as we shall see.

In any case, there’s a whole lot of Avon bottles circulating. And being collected.

While most collector pros will focus on the obvious things (condition, condition, condition – the importance of boxes, true limited runs, fan favorites, etc.), in this podcast we like to talk about objects in context. In this case, the objects are vintage & reto Avon bottles, and the context of “grandma scents” is also a nostalgic nod to scents of the past.

According to science, smell and memory are linked. Dr. Alan Hirsch, founder of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, says, “The quickest way to affect somebody’s moods or behavior, quicker than with any other sensory modality, is with smell.” So collecting perfume bottles, Avon or not, is closely linked to memory.

Vintage scents may link you to your grandma, yes. Maybe it’s a scent she wore. My grandma wore Avon’s Charisma for special occasions, so it’s part of Christmas for me. But vintage perfume scents may remind you of your grandma, or grandmas in general, at least in part, because most fragrances tend to go bad & get that funky old smell after 3-5 years – and who doesn’t have a grandma who has old fragrance bottles getting dusty on her dresser? (Hence all the washing I’ve been doing!)

Or the scents may link you to your own past – a special occasion, your first big girl perfume, your first kiss – your own teen spirit, if you will. Meaning you might now be the “grandma” part of “grandma scent.”

But another part of the context of collectible Avon bottles is the heading-toward-us-like-a-bullet-train holiday season.

As I found in my sink, there is a ton of evidence of the gift-giving of Avon. Perhaps none as obvious as the array of men’s fragrance decanters.

There are a ton of cars, which may seem gifty enough for the generic men in your life. I mean, I guess glass cars look cool… I tend to like the kitschy stuff, including white poodle Avon decanters, so who am I to judge?

But there’s more. Including a plethora of men’s footwear options…

So.

Many.

Boots.

As a woman who used to sell men’s shoes, let me tell you there is nothing – & I mean nothing – like the odor of a teenaged boy’s feet. You learn in the shoe business to inhale deeply before you even begin to bend toward the feet – slowly exhaling as you go, so that you will not need to inhale again before you have exited the danger zone. You also learn to smile with commiseration with any mothers about – because they know what you are going through and are suffering in mortified silence as well.

So anyway, the notion of selling any fragrance in footwear form is, well, it just doesn’t smell right. Yet Avon has more variations of boot cologne bottles than seems possible.

Not that Avon figural bottles are necessarily shaped like scents. For example, the car decanters don’t smell like car exhaust or those cardboard trees. The 12-inch tall grandfather clock Avon bottle doesn’t smell like… clock. Nor does the spool of thread with thimble cap portend of a specific olfactory delight. In fact, most of Avon’s figural decanters seem perplexing to those of us who understand the marketing of fragrance… But still, men’s boots do suggest unpleasant scents. So I wrinkle my nose.

Perhaps my favorite – and by favorite, I mean most giggle-worthy – Avon men’s figural fragrance bottle is the weather vane – cupola combo.

In case you aren’t familiar with a cupola, it’s a small structure on the top of a building. They were used as lookouts, or to hold a bell or clock. Today, these small clocktowers typically provide ventilation or are purely decorative, perhaps holding up a weather vane. Just like this Avon bottle of aftershave. A decorative barn-red cupola topped with a black horse weather vane. “Thanks for thinking of me, grandma!”

Oddly enough, the weather vane – cupola combo container holds Deep Woods or Wild Country aftershave. And neither of those cologne names – i.e. the scent fantasy of a rugged outdoorsman who can’t be tamed – sounds like it belongs to a dude who wants to be domesticated by a farmhouse decor style.

This bottle does, however, lend itself to a gift-seeking grandma or & aunty who doesn’t know what to get a gent over the age of say 12.

Clearly, Avon has banked a lot of bucks from grandmas… But I think most folks would prefer the traditional $5 in a greeting card.

Feel free to share this with a grandma.

This Week's Story Avon Podcast Fargo Fair Oaks Antiques
Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,

The wifey’s new website devoted to her art & handmade items has launched: Luna.Tique.Boutique.

While that was a lot of hands-on creative work, it’s not the same level of physical dirt as creating the mixed media artwork!

While LunaTique art is definitely art work with a goth or dark edge, Halloween also approacheth – so it’s only natural that a lot of black paint is used. And not only the rather easily removed acrylic sort either. Lots & lots of black spray paint is used.

For those who know the pains of trying to get spray paint not only off the skin of the hands but off of (and beneath) fingernails, this little “how to” is for you.

black spray paint on hand

The first step in removing the spray paint is to squirt on some Goo Gone Spray Gel. Most antique dealers and junkers have this in their cleaning kits. (It is a great cleaning tool – just don’t use it on plastics!)

Just a few squirts on each hand, then rub hands together as if washing. Feel free to use a nailbrush or toothbrush to get around and under those fingernails.

 

Step two: Wash your hands with Dawn dishwashing liquid – and  before you rinse your hands clean – use your soapy hands to wipe down the bottles (both the Dawn bottle and the Goo Gone trigger bottle!)

Dawn does a great job of cutting through the oily Goo Gone so your hands aren’t all greasy feeling when done. However, if you don’t have any Dawn on hand (no pun intended!) and use some other soap or liquid dish soap (which likely will require more than one washing as Dawn really is the best), you can get that oily greasy feeling gone by squirting your hands with window cleaner or any standard all-purpose cleaner like 409. Just spray onto your hands, rub together, and rinse.

This photo shows my nearly clean hand after washing. While rinsing I just use my fingernails to slide the remaining paint off & down the drain. (Not so easy to photograph hands covered in paint or the washing process without ruining my phone – but I tried!)

 

clean hands with Goo Gone & Dawn
Tagged with: , , , ,

We will be at Fargo Antiques & Repurposed Market’s annual summer flea market this weekend! Not only are we bringing in fresh finds from farms (& other places) for the flea market outside – but we will be having a huge sale inside too: 50% off! That’s half off all items with vendor code YES, in our spaces & cases. (Unless already marked down, of course.)

Saturday, June 20th, from 10 am until 6 pm

Sunday, June 21st, from noon until 6 pm.

No early sales.

50% off Fair Oaks Antiques at Fargo Antiques & Repruposed Market's Annual Summer Flea Market
Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,

Someone made a nifty little list or directory of great places to shop for vintage in the Fargo-Moorhead area – and we are super psyched to be on it!

There’s also a nice little area on what happened to some of the old shops which have closed. Go check it out! Vintage Travels In Fargo-Moorhead.

Directory of vintage shopping & junking in Fargo, North Dakota & Moorhead, Minnesota
Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

Given the current situation, the dreaded coronavirus, we’ve seen an explosion in DIY and crafting — including a throw-back to Victorian hobbies, such as scrapbooking.

We’re no different; we’ve been putting in a lot more hours in the studio – and not just for custom pieces, but been listing items in our handmade Etsy shop, LunaTiqueBazaar, too.

And we’ve been keeping busy with our crafty-DIY supply shop, KindnessOfStrangers, including restocking with new old stock embroidery kits featuring kitsch-tastic wishing-wells, owls, & mushroom designs!

NOS retro vintage embroidery craft kits

But I, the wifey, came here to blog today to share some images of a sweet old scrapbook we once had in our possession. It was a book compiled by a woman who clearly had spent a long time in 1955 recovering from a hip injury.

vintage greeting cards in old scrapbook

Along with the kitschy old “get well” greeting cards, and an odd note from well-wisher about her icky toe (see below – if you wish!!), the maker of the book had created delightful drawings, including this “stepping stones to recovery” one.

Stepping Stones Leading To Recovery old scrapbook art

Note that this vintage scrapbook page below combines drawing or coloring with glued in images – charming & so much like today’s junk journals, right?!

It’s no wonder so many people today have joined in the junk journal craze!

For those who are not familiar with the phrase “junk journal” – it’s a handmade book, usually made & embellished with found & vintage items, the pages of which you fill with writings, artworks, clippings, doodles, stickers – whatever you wish! Rather combining the best of scrapbooks, diaries, & art journals. So many creative options!

red velvet junk journal
handmade vintage junk journal

(I’ve also written a bit more about junk journals over at The FARM’s blog – there’s a video too!)

The junk journals I sell are often called “naked” because they are created with plenty of blank pages to fill in. As you can see in this video I made. (I am so much better at making journals than videos lol)

Because so many of my extended family members are unable to see one another now (unless it’s on Zoom or something), I have spent most of April making nearly a dozen junk journals & mailing them out as gifts. In fact, we’ve often shown-off some of our junk journal pages in Zoom chats!

The journals were so well received, that I’ve spent the past few weeks taking custom orders for handmade junk journals their friends! Proof that everyone loves – & needs – a creative outlet.

Art is good for the soul.

Like Kevin Smith says,

Only someone who doesn’t understand art tells an artist their art somehow failed. How the fuck can art fail? Art can’t be graded, because it’s going to mean something different to everyone. You can’t apply a mathematical absolute to art because there is no one formula for self-expression.

It’s a quote I put into each one of the handmade junk journals I made for family & friends the past few weeks – hopefully, they find it as inspiring as I do!

For those interested… The icky toe news!

Dear Cousins - icky toe letter
Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,

I fell in love with Iris Apfel when I spotted her documentary on Netflix – I sent everyone to watch it. Whether you adore vintage costume jewelry, fashion & textiles, whimsical decor, or spunky old broads, you’ll love Iris. Most of the world now does. She’s become an icon. And most of what she exudes is knowledge that every self-styled vintage lover already knows. Following her is really following yourself. Rock on, Iris! Rock on all of us!

PS Iris is more than an icon – she’s put in the years of work too.

Iris was a decorator and textile designer for the better part of her career. In 1950 she and her husband, Carl, opened Old World Weavers, a textile firm they ran until 1992, servicing everyone from Emily Post to Dorothy Draper. Iris also was responsible for many White House restorations, including those of the Truman, Kennedy, and Clinton administrations.
Tagged with: , , , , ,

Today is National Beer Can Appreciation Day, honoring the day beer was first put into cans in 1935, and the Farm is celebrating with a New Year’s Old Beers event – featuring a book signing with Alicia Underlee Nelson, of Prairie Style File! She will be signing copies of her book, North Dakota Beer: A Heady History at the shop from 4 pm to 6 pm.

If you want to get in the mood, here’s an interesting article on beer can history: Meet Archaeology’s Beer Can Man.

Also, we brought in some killer vintage beer items for this event!

Circa the 1950s, a Schlitz globe light (incomplete but rare as all heck & cool to boot!), and a 1963 Pabst 3-D advertising piece featuring golf!

Lots more breweriana & beer collectibles in the shop too – and we dealers keep restocking as this has been super popular! So come check it out – and, don’t worry, if you can’t make it today, Alicia will be back on Saturday, January 25th, from 1 pm to 3 pm to do more book signing!

Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,

In case you missed our social media posts, Fair Oaks Antiques (that’s us!) has had a busy day in the media today!

First, the wifey was quoted in an Inforum story about Fargo Antiques & Repurposed Market, aka “The FARM,” entering its fifth year of business and branching out with events.

Deanna Dahlsad, a vendor who also co-hosts the Trash Or Treasure appraisal events, is excited by the expansion of events calendar.

“After 30-plus years in this business, it’s refreshing to find an antique mall that really gets what it’s all about,” Dahlsad said. “Antiquing or junking is more than a pure materialistic act; it’s about more than the objects themselves. This is about the creativity of self-expression, the preservation of history, the passion of collecting, green living, and so much more. These events are very exciting to me because they bring more opportunities to connect with our “FARM” friends, with like-minded folks.”

Then, at 8pm in the evening, the wifey was live on Night Time Live with Bob Harris (on The Mighty KFGO). She and local North Dakota author Alicia Underlee Nelson, of Prairie Style File, were talking with Bob about the New Year’s Old Beers event at the Farm -check it out!

Oh, yeah, and the aforementioned Trash Or Treasure appraisal fair events are back! Details on the latest one can be found here & you can secure your spot here.

See you at the Farm!

New Year's Old Beers Fargo Event

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thanksgiving means time with family, not working. However, in order for the family to be able to eat at the dining room table, one must first clear off all the inventory waiting to be cleaned & priced… So, in today’s endeavor to provide a clean horizontal surface fit for family, I, the wifey, had to work a bit.

To my delight, I rediscovered a few gems I’d forgotten about. As both these items are family & gift-related, I figured I’d take the time to share them.

On the face of things, both of these wall hangers are nifty enough. But it’s the back of them which really tells the stories & gives additional charm!

One is “A Tribute To My Dad.” A classic poem or motto from the 1920s, much like those by Buzza. However, someone has placed a plastic golden “DAD” plate on the front covering any attributions. (A search on the Internet attributes this work to MAH.)

We dare not try to remove the vanity “Dad” plate, for risk of damaging the original glass or framing – especially as the aforementioned back is where the real charm lies…

On the back brown framing paper, there’s a message written in what appears to be red marker:

Did you give this to your Dad?

Well, we all want to know!

But, sadly, we will only be able to imagine the answer is “yes”. And, for those of us who enjoy such flights of fancy, imagine how both the original gift-giving to dad went and the following story or stories involving the red marker questioner.

The other piece that has charmed me today has its own story to tell.

This piece is a framed handmade textile piece: a yellow and black Chevy hand-stitched onto a background of tan cloth (which rather resembles burlap). I am a huge fan of needlework, so this could be impressive enough. However, there’s a full story written on the back!

The inscription includes the birthday boy’s name & celebrates his birthday on April 25th, 1979 via this memento of childhood automobile memories:

This is a replica of our old Chevrolet that you had so much fun riding in the rumble seat. Remember? Hope you enjoy this picture. Much love, Mom & Dad

Just how does anyone want to give this up?!

I barely can, & it’s my job!

For anyone else who loves such charming pieces, come on out to the Farm this weekend – both pieces will be there!

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,