If you’ve been in our shop, you’ve probably heard us ask “Are you looking for anything special?” We always ask because our third barn, not accessible to the public, is full of back up inventory. This Gone with the Wind-style settee is just one example of the furniture that is waiting for a spot in one of our main buildings. So if you are “on a mission” and you don’t see what you’re looking for, be sure you to ask!
Yes, winter is coming and much of our garden inventory will be going (into storage, that is). We generally wait for the leaves to fall before start storing & stacking so don’t procrastinate if there’s something in our outside area that you’ve been considering! We will keep some urns and planters accessible for holiday greens but we will be putting away much of our other outside farm & garden inventory. (And by the way, this is a great time to negotiate pricing on our outside inventory.)
Last week, I blogged about our visit from the set designers of the upcoming Mark Wahlberg film Wonderland. Set in the Seventies, the Wonderland decorators bought vintage beer advertising & barware, a taxidermy salmon, wooden signs, and an old porch glider (among other things).
This week, we were visited by the set designers for the upcoming Columbia Pictures film “Little Women” directed by Greta Gerwig (“Ladybird”). These ladies are staging Victorian interiors, a 19th century publishing house, an art studio, a NYC street scene, and formal garden party. They filled their car with quilts, baskets, industrial spools of yarn, ironstone, a tin paint box, old paint brushes, and wooden crates. They’re sending a truck for milk cans & furniture; the prop crew is coming back this week to look at old type, printers trays, leather books, and clothing; and we’re discussing rental of some higher end pieces for the garden scenes.
All of these folks have been great to work with–they are enthusiastic, friendly, focused, and very open to suggestions! They left us with a “want list” of things they need by the start of filming in October so we will be on the hunt to see what we can come up with in the next month or so.
And by the way, we just read that the actors who were in talks to star in the film included Meryl Streep, Emma Stone, and Saoirse Ronan, so if we do rent some of our garden pieces, our customers may be able to buy a Victorian chair that Meryl Streep sat in! We’ll keep you posted!
Over the years, set designers staging films in the New England area have come to us for set decor & props. The very first film to feature pieces from Butler’s was Steven Spielberg’s “Amistad.” In that film, most of the objects from our shop (barrels, crates, rope, nautical pulleys, tools) were used in dock scenes. The next set that will be sprinkled with our stuff is the upcoming Netflix film “Wonderland” starring Mark Wahlberg and directed by Peter Berg. “Wonderland” is based on the TV show “Spenser for Hire,” a 1980s TV crime drama about a Boston private investigator.
Designers have been in and out of the shop over the past several days picking out crusty 1970s decor including a taxidermy salmon, vintage Budweiser & Pabst signs, old liquor bottles, industrial lights, vintage table lamps, a wooden sign from the Seabrook dog track, and an old porch glider. With thanks to our iphone cameras, we were able to get everything selected, pulled, and packed for today’s pick-up. According to the crew that we met today, filming starts this fall and the correct pronunciation of the shooting location is “Dorchesta.” There’s no release date yet but we will patiently wait to see Marky Mark, of the Funky Bunch, sitting in a bar decorated with vintage beer signs from our shop!
If you’ve been in our shop lately, you know that we buy and sell a lot of antique taxidermy. There are state and federal regulations with regard to buying, selling, and possessing taxidermy so it’s important to understand the laws in your state before buying “stuffed animals.” In the state of New Hampshire, the general rule is that taxidermy is allowed as long as the animals were not obtained illegally and are not protected. This is a current list of New Hampshire’s Endangered Species. Creatures protect by federal laws include birds that are part of The Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Other protected birds include birds of prey, like eagles and owls. In fact, possession of taxidermy eagles and owls is illegal in many states even if the piece was created before the laws were enacted. In the case of our owl, we contacted the New Hampshire Department of Fish & Game for permission to display her in the shop.
- How do I clean vintage clothing? I generally recommend hand-washing vintage clothing. Start with a gentle detergent and move into more aggressive cleaners only if necessary. I use Oxi-Clean Versatile for whites & colors. I use bleach only as a last resort as it can deteriorate fragile fabrics.
- Is there any way to help a sticky zipper? Yes, there is! Just run an old-fashioned pencil up and down your zipper–graphite is an excellent dry lubricant and will get that sticky zipper working like new.
- Where do I find replacement buttons for my vintage garment? In short, the easiest thing to do when a vintage piece is missing a button is to replace all of the buttons with an appropriate substitute. Finding an exact match can be impossible.
- How should I store my vintage clothing? First of all, no wire hangers. I use flat velvet hangers in my shop but only because I can fit more clothing on my racks with flat hangers. Padded hangers are ideal and flat storage is best for anything heavy or beaded.
- What’s the best way to repair vintage clothing? It depends on the issue but in general, I always repair by hand. Seam splits can be easily repaired by hand as can button holes. Tears and deterioration are hard to fix. Tears in solid fabrics can be repaired from the inside by using a piece of fabric for reinforcement. Sheer fabrics are harder to fix. I save trim, appliques, fabric flowers, and other bits & pieces because sometimes the easiest (and prettiest) fix is to cover the problem area.
- Store your records vertically. (Records that are stacked can warp.)
- Store your records in an environment that is not too humid. (We can’t tell you the number of “basement stored” record collections we’ve looked at over the years at that have moisture damage to the covers and mold in the record grooves. Dirty records can be cleaned but the only solution for moldy records is a dumpster.)
- Store your records out of direct sunlight. (Records can handle a certain amount of heat but direct sunlight will warp your vinyl.)
- Store your records in sturdy containers. Wooden crates work well but reinforced wooden shelving is even better.
- Store your LPs in plastic sleeves but don’t seal them closed. (Plastic sleeves will protect your vinyl when you’re sliding records on & off shelves or in & out of crates. Leaving the plastic sleeves open allows for air circulation which prevents condensation and damage.)
Wabi-sabi is an ancient Japanese framework rooted in Zen Buddhism that celebrates the imperfect beauty of nature, with all of its natural flaws and blemishes. Antiques, in their natural state, blend perfectly with the concept of wabi-sabi in decor & design. Antiques, by definition, are imperfect. Most, if not all, antiques have surfaces that reflect years of use and repairs that reflect the history of the object. The wabi-sabi approach to beauty in imperfection is something that antique collectors have always practiced. To include wabi-sabi in your own aesthetic, embrace the imperfections in antiques, celebrate natural finishes, clear clutter by curating your collections, and include natural elements.
Why we oppose internet sales tax.
- There are over 12,000 tax jurisdictions in the country. Forbes magazine estimates the annual cost for small business to collect and distribute these tax dollars would be between $57,500 and $200,000 annually.
- In addition to collecting and submitting tax revenues to all of these districts, small businesses will have to complete monthly or quarterly returns in each district. This means additional time & money to small businesses.
- In addition to the number of tax districts, there are variables that further compound tax revenue calculation: some items & ingredients are tax exempt (varying by jurisdiction) and jurisdictions have tax holidays (varying dates nationwide).
- While proponents of internet tax declare that software is available to help small business with the aforementioned, that is not the case. And when such software is developed, what is the likelihood that it will be affordable for small businesses?
- Many small businesses, in an effort to augment their brick & mortar sales, sell on eBay, etsy, Amazon, and the like. Those of us who use these web sites, give these businesses about 15%-20 of our annual sales. In addition, we are under the thumb of the feedback systems, preferred search systems, and shipping requirements imposed by these corporations. As a result, many small businesses (including us) have and are investing in the creation of our own autonomous web sites in order to fully control our business destiny. Corporations like Amazon (already collecting taxes voluntarily) have a work force that allows them to handle these massive tax requirements. So it’s no surprise that big business supports internet sales—little guys are either going to have to get onboard with ebay or Amazon or go out of business.
- We have no sales tax in New Hampshire. By requiring NH businesses to collect taxes for 12,000 tax jurisdictions across the country, the burden is being shifted from the buyer to the seller, from the taxpayer to the business owner. As taxpayers, we all responsible to report our income to our state government and to remit the amount we owe. How can we fairly make small NH businesses responsible for collection and distribution of the tax revenues for individual residents of other states? And on another note, this will open up the possibility of collecting taxes for other countries (an exponential complication).
- On a more intangible note, many of our brick & mortar customers are from out-of-state. In fact, more than 50% of customers are from outside of New Hampshire. When a customer from California comes to our shop, there is no tax on their purchase. However, when they get home from their vacation and visit our shop online, suddenly our prices go up 10%. So I guess that means we are defining the internet as an entity that exists in the physical location of the person who is viewing a particular online store. But that seems contrary to the view that the internet is everywhere and nowhere.
Our last three Tuesdays have been spent at one amazing, overgrown, uninhabited home in Southern New Hampshire. The former owner was a collector of anything big, heavy, weird, and quirky! We’ve brought home truly unusual pieces including outdoor sculptures & statues, an array of taxidermy, architectural salvage, old signs, weathervanes & cupolas, and some industrial pieces. Fortunately, we have had help from our strapping, young offspring and their friends because nothing from this estate weighed less than 100 pounds! So, thanks to Billie, Jackson, Beau, and Jake, our quest to keep our inventory as interesting as possible continues! If you’re in the neighborhood and you’ve never seen a buffalo up close, stop by!