Meet Beatriz from AlegriaCollection, her shop is full of wonderful vintage finds!
1. How did you get started as a vintage shop? When my husband and I got married in 1982, we settled in his hometown, Jackson, Mississippi. Between us, we owned a bed and a bookshelf. In order to have a place to sit when reading all those books, we went shopping for a couch. We never did find one, but on our way home we stumbled upon an auction house. We bought three pieces of furniture—and the rest is history. Every Saturday night we drove 45 minutes one way to an auction in Vicksburg where they sold real antiques: Mallard beds from New Orleans, Eastlake sideboards, Empire pier mirrors, amazing things that came from antebellum homes. We didn’t mind the smoke, the heat or the noise! We usually closed the place down well after midnight and drove 45 minutes home all over again–we were a lot younger then! Over the years we filled our house with auction finds–to the bursting point. We opened a booth at an antiques mall just to make room—and that’s where I caught the bug for selling vintage.
2. What types of vintage items do you specialize in? I don’t specialize, but I try to choose carefully so that I can earn a reputation as a shop that carries a good variety of nice vintage items. I’m partial to vintage jewelry, Depression-era kitchen utensils and vintage clothing.
3. Where do you acquire most of your vintage collectibles? Does it seem like merchandise is relatively easy or hard to come by? Most of my finds come from garage sales and auctions. I also take advantage of drastic discounts at antique malls (summers are very slow in Florida). I think the best bargains can be found at garage sales, though, but my day job interferes with that. So I’ve enlisted my husband, who’s retired, as my buyer–now he says he wants a commission! There are a lot of nice collectibles and vintage items out there, but I think high-quality vintage merchandise, especially clothing, is hard to come by. You have to put your name out as a serious buyer, so people will call you, rather than having to search and search with few or no results.
4. What would you say is your favourite decade for design? Or do you have more than one? I do love the entire Victorian era (many decades in that period) for shoes and clothing, although who can resist a flapper dress or an Art Deco brooch or a 1940s hat? Depression-era, utilitarian items really appeal to me because they speak of lean times and how people made do—I think those are the things that, in part, inspired the “shabby chic” style. And the hippie movement, with the flowing skirts, flowers in your hair and leather accessories, I think morphed into what we now call “boho,” which I also find very appealing. So, yes, I have more than one favorite decade for design!
5. What would say it is about vintage that makes it so desirable? For me the desirability of vintage is rooted in the connection to the past—lifestyle, customs, even values. I always wonder who owned an item originally, what was that person’s life like. I bet the 1960s coral-color gloves I recently found were worn by an average housewife (homemaker) to the grocery store! Was a fancy necklace purchased by someone who saved for weeks to be able to pay for it, or by a well-to-do husband as a gift for his wife? And things were made to last, so quality makes vintage desirable. What items being produced today will be around in 20, 30 years to be called “vintage”?
6. As we all know, many vintage pieces have interesting stories behind them. Do you have any tales you’d like to share about particular vintage items you own? We have a book entitled “The Poetical Works of Elizabeth Barrett Browning,” published in the 1800s. My husband found it as a boy in the 1950s in the basement of an abandoned Victorian house in Jackson, MS, where a former elementary-school principal had lived. Although in general the book is in poor condition, the edges of the pages are gold-leafed and the cover is made of beautifully embossed simulated leather with “Mrs. Browning” scripted in gold lettering across the front. It’s probably worthless, but priceless to us.
7. What would be your ultimate vintage find? An Edwardian dress. And no, I wouldn’t sell it!
8. How has your experience selling vintage items on Etsy been? It’s been tremendous! My Etsy shop, The Alegria Collection, has been very well received, and in just a few months I’ve sold lots of vintage items. The Etsy community is very supportive and I wouldn’t sell anywhere else!
9. What is one piece of advice you can give Etsy shop owners that has helped you in your experience? Try to keep your inventory moving by pricing carefully. When I’m lucky enough to buy a piece of jewelry for a dollar, even if it’s worth $50, I’d rather sell it for $25 than have it sit for months or not sell at all. That’s hard to do sometimes, and some may think it devalues other similar items, but it’s important to keep your shop looking fresh. A shop that hasn’t sold but 10 items in two years looks stale and unappealing, regardless of the quality of the merchandise.
10. Where else can we find you online? Right now only on Pinterest; pinterest.com/alegriacollec/. I should have a Facebook page up for The Alegria Collection soon.