Serious Vintage Shopping

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Located in the historic Columbia Burlap Building across the 12th Street Bridge in the West Bottoms, Good JuJu is held the first weekend of every month by a group of women who are real characters and know their vintage goods. The August antique sale-a-rama delivered yet again as vendors packaged their best merchandise to look as if all decades of the 20th century had returned in the form of home furnishings. Word is spreading fast across the KC metro area about this most affordable and stylish destination for snagging unique room fillers – chairs, mirrors, mats, clocks, books, hats, tables, lamps and plates, framed photographs and old wood crates. If I had a naked home, I would swathe it in Good JuJu.

But I only have one clean white room with cream trim, wood floors and arched windows waiting for me in Houston, Tx. In a few days I will hit the road and drive 12 hours south to enroll in classes as a sophomore at Rice University. I will be living in one of nine residential colleges, in a single, in a dorm. And if you could only see the state of my room as it is now, perhaps you could understand why I’m amped to decorate a space other students consider to be a closet or hell hole. I have a solid little vision of a room just for Coco – without a broken treadmill at the foot of the bed or a a sibling’s forgotten Cd’s on the bookshelf and without a cluster of spiders in the corner – it all sounds good to me.

For the past two months now, I’ve methodically looked over the JuJu goods and have concluded that all are wonderful and many of them are necessary, but only a few are needed by me.

Purchase #1: 1950s Ceramic Owl

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I know what you’re thinking – like I need an owl. The thing is, I am an owl now – that is what they call Rice students. In an all-too-familiar moment of sentiment, I paid the $14.50 for the first of what will become an owl collection. I got the idea a few weeks ago when I attended a BBQ at the home of Rice alumni and discovered this particular hobby while scanning their living room set-up: owls were perched everywhere: on the walls, on the bookshelves, carved from natural wood or stone, owl paintings and even towels. I thought it fitting to purchase an owl too as most antique/vintage shops already possess a variety of the animal – for some unknown reason, back in the day they were as popular as houseplants.

Willa Raybould, one of the JuJu Coordinators and mother of a close friend, told me it was a piece a store like Anthropologie would manufacture and sell as new for triple the price. If school spirit weren’t enough, the salesmanship pushed me to confirm my purchase and now I am the owner of a white ceramic owl – and it’s staring at me now as I’m typing.

Purchase #2: Vintage Mele Jewelry Box

I am ashamed of the how I’ve maintained my jewelry over the years, treating even my most delicate  pieces as if they were paperclips, tossing them in any random storage unit I could find. Well I’m a woman aren’t I? A woman needs a jewelry box – and not one of those relics a grandmother gives her granddaughter to keep creepy porcelain dolls in – a beautiful box that reflects individual taste. Mine is golden mint green and opens from the top to reveal burnt orange velvet lining centered around a rectangular mirror and shallow cubbies to hold pairs of earrings. Two thin but wide shelves situate below the top tier, extending far back into the box for necklaces and bracelets.

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Only $25 to hold generation’s of jewelery between my mother and I and the countless other mystery women whose jewelry I have purchased over the years at estate sales, school scrap sales, garage sales and any sale really that has a corner for someones unwanted finery. The box is an accessory to accessories and holds its own among my extensive collection, newly void of macaroni necklaces and threaded friendship bracelets I’ve kept for too long.

Purchase #3: Vintage Mirror

Lisa, a.k.a. “Hot Lisa” as she affectionately likes to be called, told me this mirror was unusual because it reflected cleaner than most other vintage mirrors, free of the kinds of unflattering distortions that will impel any woman to throw a pretty mirror away. It hung elegantly at Good JuJu around a handful of other mirrors equally as stunning in appearance and impressive in size. I chose a modest $24 mirror in a color I find hard to describe – it isn’t just white or off-white or yellow or cream, it’s a matte composite of all these colors. I will hang it on my wall or lean it against my dresser for my much anticipated morning madness.

You don’t know this about me yet, but in school, I love to wake early and dress followed by coffee with the paper. It’s a comforting ritual I find benefits my overall academic performance. And with the doubtless few hours of sleep I’ll get a night, I know I’ll need a good mirror to apply under-eye concealer. I warned you I was methodical about these things, didn’t I?

cartoon5Beyond my three purchases, there was a handful of what I call “almosts” – the items you instinctively want to buy but talk yourself out it for one reason or another. My go-to excuses that keep me from racking up the bill – it’s chipped, it isn’t the size I’d like it to be, the color is off, the storage would be difficult, the upkeep a hassle – you name it, I’ll find a reason not to buy it – mainly – it costs too much. I almost purchased a $4 pair of small aviator sunglasses, a $1.50 pea green wallet, a $14 lamp with no shade, a $10 Edison fan that barely stirred the air in front of it and had a dangerously exposed electric cord, $25  owl book ends, $12.50 mint green shelves, a $19 paisley dining set box I considered using for my jewelry, a $16 acrylic painting of a tree by some mystery artist, a $1 plate I thought looked nice, an un-priced wooden sign that read “5-cent Beer,” and other nonsensical things I didn’t need but liked.

And so I leave town having scoured Good JuJu for a few perfect pieces. I am a pleased woman who will miss this random and rare Kansas City shopping adventure. Now to transport it all – that will likely be a subject of great debate in my next entree – so stay tuned.

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