Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Organized Chaos

Talk about a crazy month at the shop for Panoply!  We've all come to know that January typically centers on organization - at least that's what the magazines try to get us to think - getting holiday decor tucked away, etc. - but I believe we've coined a new activity for the month - organized chaos!

Right after Christmas, we sold a primitive utility cabinet that was originally purchased to display smalls.  Here's a photo (below) of the cabinet's interior, with four of the five shelves.  Needless to say, the fifth shelf was also loaded, as was the floor space at the bottom AND the space above.  We always try to capitalize on vertical space, as booth space real estate comes with a price!  So, On Jan 7th, we unloaded the cabinet, and rearranged all the items pictured below.

Next up:  we located a curio cabinet to move into another area of ours, so that we could display several small items under lock and key.  By Jan 14th, the curio pictured below was situated, and starting to shape up (i.e., fill up).

 By the end of that same week, an underpinning of a new display sold - the crock bench pictured below.  So that prompted a whole new display in the space we had just overhauled the first week of the month!

We then flipped one whole section, wall for wall, open space for open space, during week three of January!  We added a couple new anchoring pieces, (items that can hold several smalls!), and thought we were, once again, well organized.  And each time we do a move, we clean, so our space was being very well maintained throughout. 

New crock bench, open floor section (note chicken coop now standing, behind bench).
Left wall, new wooden crates & vintage wire laundry basket.
Right wall, new washstand.

Lo and behold, we get a phone call this past weekend, saying our center section is about to be disrupted.  Seems normal people out there in the real world are also organizing in their real homes, and one of them wanted to purchase our center anchoring louvered cabinet.  As you can see by the photo below, it's quite the cottage piece, found with its original paint.  And very sturdy - it had a nice shelf inside with adjustable tracking on the sides for varying heights.

Center wall, louvered cabinet, holding pillows, and industrial wire baskets on stool - both sold; both holding smalls.

So, for our January finale, we tried to minimize the moves, and opted to slide the cubby pictured below into the vacant space, keeping the vertical real estate maximized.  That blank space on the right of the wall is the breaker box, where staff needs daily access to turn lights on/off.  You can also see (in the details, if you compare to the photo above) that we added lace around the wire laundry basket's edge, and slid the garden urns to the right of the cubby (and stuffed a few pillows into it!). 

It goes without saying that we love what we're doing, and what we did in January is a testament to what they say in this business - move things around regularly, and you will stir interest from customers - it looks like new things every week, just because they get moved around so much!  I hope the months to come are just as good as January seemed to be.  I like organized chaos.

Center wall re-do, with cubby now anchoring the space.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Be Mine

Another couple weeks have flown by, along with a couple more trips to our local antique mall to fluff the booths.  Actually, it was a little more than that - two weeks ago we located a curio cabinet to use for display, so that week was spent hauling it, cleaning it, shopping hardware (locks), getting more items ready for display, and THEN placing it in the booth space.  Yesterday we restaged two major sections of our displays because the crock bench sold (new display photos to come, but the bench that started the major overhaul is here:  Fluffing's more like overhauling for us when just one item gets displaced because we have so.much.stuff.

We're ready for Valentine's Day, where the universal message seems to be, "Be Mine".

I guess that's the universal theme for collectors, too - be mine.  I've read many a blog or article that asks the rhetorical question at its end, "What do you collect?"  My list is pretty long, depending on how many you count as the rule for calling something a collection or not.  And then there's the other two-thirds of Panoply's lists (my two sisters, M & J).  By the way, you can also follow us on Pinterest at (the easy button's in the right-hand column of this blog).  I have one board devoted entirely to Panoply - Three Sisters' Antiques & Other Treasures, as well as several other boards.  Here's [some of] our lists of things we collect:
  • Purses - antique beaded & mesh, and the not-so-easy-to-find children's purses.  This is my all-time favorite pasttime, so much so that I even travel to gatherings with like-minded collectors in distant cities just to be with them, shop among them, and share with them.  They are my friends.  Purse ephemera (particularly photographs of women with their antique purses) are another extension of this collection - a little hard to come by, but much more affordable than the purses.
  • Antique dolls - my sister M has been collecting antique dolls like I have purses, only longer.  She's a master dollmaker, and has had a small business in the past of repairing antique dolls and producing reproductions of many, as well as teaching dollmaking.  Suffice it to say she has an entirely gorgeous suite in her home that was built with her doll displays in mind.
  • Primitives - my sister J loves primitives and feels certain she was a servant in a former life.  Her home comes to life with a classy mix of traditional decor with a dash of primitive accessories.  She's very into crocks, utensils, and hardware, and has made entire wall displays of her collections. 
  • Linens - love, love, love old linens, especially those which are hand-worked.  Within this are sub-categories:  quilts, pillowcases, tablecloths, dresser scarves, hankies.  My sisters and I all love linens.  We buy, launder & press them, keep many, and sell the rest.
  • Miniature books - an oddity that I thought perhaps my voracious reader husband would get into (but no, he doesn't like 'stuff'.  I know, sad, but true).
  • Religious relics - I just feel the need to rescue them, probably a guilty complex left over from parochial education.
  • Old china - which I actually use.  I come from a big family, and host several get-togethers annually.  My jadeite is my favorite china collectible, but I also collect mismatched pieces of white ironstone and [mostly] brown transferware.  I also have several sets of of very useful estate acquired patterns, ranging in service from 12 to 24.
  • Then there's sterling and silverplate serving pieces & utensils, hotel silver, hats, perfume bottles.......

So, I guess the better question may be, "What don't you collect?"  That answer is pretty easy - glass.  Coming from West Virginia, that speaks volumes, as there are numerous glass factories that were started along our river valleys, most notably Blenko and Fenton.  None of us - M, J or myself - collect glassware, but we will occasionally purchase it for resell (as in the photo above, which has a piece of Pilgrim glass).

What makes your heart go pitter-patter?  What speaks to your heart and says "Be Mine"?  Hopefully, it's more than some "thing", and your heart is full with someone or several someones.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

New Year, New Arrangement

My local sister & I worked in our booth spaces in our local antique mall on Tuesday, Jan 8th - all day.  She had just gotten back from her beach vacation with my third sister (from Cincinnati), with whom we collectively call ourselves 'Panoply' (aka the Three Sisters).  Needless to say, she had to flip her switch and get her "game face" on with my arrival at her house early in the morning, loading my SUV with items to be used in our re-staging.

Talk about one thing leading to another!  Once one vignette is disassembled, it's like scope creep - it just keeps on going until something like the store closing (most typical for us), or having a late afternoon appointment (this day's case), stops us.

We rent about 255 square feet of space, in two separate floor sections, separated only by an aisle, on the main floor of our antique mall.  One area gravitates toward Primitive/Depression items and the other area is pretty much Romantic/Victorian/Art Deco.  We always try to keep a few anchoring pieces in our booths to display, but when one sells, it's a major overhaul.  That's what this past Tuesday was (a display piece with five shelves of displaced items sold!), plus we packed up and cleared out all of our unsold Christmas holiday items.  We're now looking toward early Spring - Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, and Easter.

Here are a few photos from our work this past Tuesday - just a few macro views of how we create moods with the things we've acquired and made available for sale.  We hope it's inviting for shoppers and inspiring to other shopkeepers.  Enjoy!

This is one of Panoply's booth spaces (the more Primitive/Depression displays), reset January, 2013.
This is the same Panoply booth, from the opposite angle.  The Primitive/Depression displays transition toward more Romantic on the left side.  Adjacent to the left side of this photo is our other booth space (see next photo).

This is Panoply's more Romantic/Victorian booth space, reset January, 2013. 

As you can tell by the photos, we display a fairly wide assortment of "picks"; hence, our name, Panoply, which means "a wide-ranging and impressive array". 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Into the Land of Blogosphere

With this new year of 2013, I am initiating myself into the Land of Blogosphere.  I welcome you, and hope that you will welcome me too, show me the way, be my Garmin, so to speak.  I am comfortable in the Lands of Email, Facebook, Pinterest, and many other technological applications, but this one is new.  And having multiple identities, i.e. email accounts, has given me much grief as I make this leap.  After all, January is the month to organize, something I consider as a personal strength.  Getting these identities all tidied up is something I'd much rather have perfected before I launched this, but I guess we all have to start somewhere, start being the key word.

I've had several false starts in the Land of Blogosphere.  You see, I signed onto Gmail in 2007 (personal) and again in 2008 (business).  Then I set up a YouTube account in 2010 (business), and then I started linking with other blogs (personal).  Oh yea, then there's a Google checkout somewhere in there.  And, now that I have a smartphone (Android), I'm accessing my Google email again (personal).

I couldn't figure out how to link the personal and business accounts together here in the Land of Blogosphere, so my business side (Panoply) invited my personal side (Rita) to join in the commotion (Panoply was where my intention of blogging began) .  I think I'm going to like it better this way, as my blogging will likely cover the gamut of my business and personal journeys.  Plus, I like for things to balance, seeing as how I come from a business accounting background (debit/credit, the answer always being zero).  And I enjoy left brain/right brain balance (business logic with artistic expression).  As a former ballerina, balance is key!  As a human being submersed in a world full of stressors, balance is critical!

So, here I go. 

Though mostly retired now, I mentioned I have a business background (accounting undergrad with an MBA earned later in my career).  I work part-time now, with my husband, in his consulting business.  And my other part-time job is more my passion:  Panoply, which means "a wide-ranging and impressive array".  Panoply is a small antiquing business, in which I share booth space with two of my six (!) sisters in our local antique mall.  We love the hunt, and the display as much or more as the hunt, and we each bring a different angle to the things we find, display and sell.  We were on board with Ruby Lane's beta operation of Ruby Plaza, having an online shop for two and half years by the same name (Panoply), until it closed on December 31, 2012.  Instead of migrating to Ruby Lane, I'll be exploring other venues on behalf of Panoply, as the year unfolds.  Entering the Land of Blogosphere is the first stop.  I hope you'll join me!

And how apropos is it that I begin this on January 6, the Feast of the Epiphany?!