Vintage Out Loud
Carmen Wagner is from Yuma, Arizona. She runs a fun, eclectic vintage shop on etsy with her family. They offer a variety of amazing old finds spanning the decades. We have conducted an interview with her.
What were the other choices before you decide to open a vintage and antique shop?
Before we opened this vintage shop we each had our own jobs that we spent all our time doing. I am a home health care provider and I still have some clients but it doesn’t take up my full day. My sister is a graphic designer who was doing freelance projects at the time when we first thought of opening our shop. Our mother is retired and spent most of her time tending to her garden. We each had a bit of free time on our hands and would frequently attend auctions and estate sales together on the weekend. That’s where we became inspired to do this. My sister has friends who sell on Etsy and really enjoy it, that’s when we started to read up on selling on this platform.
What do you think draws your customers to your vintage shop?
We try to keep an eclectic mix of items in our shop. We each have different tastes in what we are drawn to so it really works for keeping an interesting variety in stock. I think our customers really appreciate that they can stop in looking for one thing and see a variety of other options for gift ideas or collectables that they hadn’t thought of. We do our best to take bright sharp pictures and always give as much detail about each item and it’s vintage condition as possible. By the reviews that people leave for us we’ve come to realize that people are thrilled when their item arrives and it is exactly as described. People who enjoy vintage/antique items often treasure the flaws as the objects battle scars from withstanding the test of time.
What kind of details/description do you include when you identify the quality and condition of the items you carry in your shop?
When describing an item I first like to find out as much as I can about it. We feel it’s important to anyone interested in buying to know exactly what they are paying for. This is also a great way to entice new collectors who maybe didn’t know these details about these things. That’s part of the fun of old items, most of the time they have a story. Next I like to describe the items features. Even though we provide photos there maybe something you didn’t notice just by looking at the snapshots. We know that looking at a small photo on the computer is not the same as picking something up with your hands and really looking at it. That brings me to the final thing I describe, the condition. If it has stains, chips, crazing, tears, bends, holes… I am going let you know in the listing. When our customers can make an informed decision about their purchase they are more likely to love it when it arrives.
How did you first discover thereby defining the age and flaws as your vintage products' intrinsic beauty?
When we chose items for our shop most of the time we get it because something about it just spoke to us, but initially don’t know a lot about the item. One of the absolute joy’s of having this shop is all the things I have learned through doing the research. History lessons have never been so much fun for me. The real magic happens when I when I find out about the materials used, the craftsman who toiled over it’s creation, or the artist who put their time and heart into designing or decorating something worth signing their name to. Those items are always the most special to me. Just one more reason I like to share with our potential customers what is special about each of these treasures. In the age and flaws there is often a great story about how these items where used and who would have owned them. Sometimes the process starts by finding out what other sellers have found out about their similar items. Then I always check the facts with my own research. There are many places to read about the history of companies that made these items. I check sites that catalog the dates of when certain hallmarks where used, when a particular pattern or design style was sold and even collector show and tell sites where aficionados and avid collectors show their finds an share their details. These are all tools that have been key in providing well rounded information in our listings.
Who is manning the shop? Which is the very first item that was sold?
My sister and I are the ones who man the shop. I watch the shop, handle sales, communication with customers and do the bookkeeping. My sister, with her graphic design skills, was the natural choice to make our listings. She takes the photos and cleans them up to get them ready to post. We both take part in the research and writing the listings then she collects the rest of the information like measurements, weight, how to categorize it and creates the listings. Our mother is the ace for finding some of the best things at auction. She has the age and wisdom to be able to look at something and have a good idea if it’s potential value, also if it’s real or a knockoff. Part of our research comes from her hands on experience with having had something in her younger days. Speaking of having something in our younger days, Barbie dolls came out the year I was born. So it felt like a good sign that the very first Item sold in our shop was a Mod Twist and Turn Barbie doll with rooted eyelashes and side glancing eyes from the 60’s.
Name some quirky unique items that even you can't bear to let go?
Every once in awhile we do find things at auction that we keep because they fit into our personal collections but some of the more quirky fun things we have been fortunate enough to find we probably would not have purchased without the shop. Simply because we have to keep our collections down to a manageable size. Having our shop allows us to buy all kinds of amazing things, get to learn about them and enjoy having them for a short period of time. Some of the zaniest things we have sold are; A Mid-Century Hazelle's Marionette Teto The Clown, A Cluster Puzzle By Cadaco, A Tru-Vue Stereo Viewer from the 30’s, A Doctors Blood Sugar Test Kit By Lamotte Chemical Products from the 40’s (that one was a doozie), and my favorite was this crazy potentially dangerous toys from the 60’s A Vac-U-Form Set By Mattel still in working condition in it’s original box. A few of the current wow items in our shop include; A Rand McNally & Co Railroad Printers Hammerhead, Antique Wedgwood Jasperware Sugar Shaker, World's Finest Superman And Batman Together. No 181, Three TUFFY Screwdrivers Made By The Swallow Airplane Co., and a real jaw dropper are the Rare Antique Pair of Composition & Cloth Hungarian Dolls From The Mid 1800’s, they are a bit creepy looking though as they are missing their eyes. We have the original eyes but they are broken so they will ship with the dolls in little baggies. Their traditional Matyo outfits are fantastic though. Don’t take my word for it, stop on by and check out these gems for yourself.
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