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!
For those of you who are familiar with our record business, you know that we stock all of the used vinyl in the Bullmoose Music store in Portsmouth. Bullmoose decided to make some changes and asked us to cut the used vinyl inventory by 50%. After much hard work, we have finished consolidating our inventory in Portsmouth which means that there is a vinyl bonanza in Northwood! We managed to squeeze one of our Portsmouth racks into the RS Butler’s record room so we are officially swimming in LPs! Everything has been reorganized, rejuvenated, and repriced! Don has added new sections of $3 records and completely expanded the inventory.
We will continue to keep our space at Bullmoose fully stocked (though certain genres & artists will not be represented) so don’t dismay! And as always, if there’s anything special you are looking for, give us a call or send us an email! Hope to see you soon!
Several years ago a lovely 92 year old lady named Helen called us to evaluate a record collection that had belonged to her recently deceased husband. Don & I went on the call together. We both remember driving up to her mid-century split home (grey shingles with purple trim) and thinking “this is the kind of place that would have classic mid-century decor.” And bingo! Avocado kitchen, chrome laminate kitchen table, and a living room & bedroom full of pristine mid-century furniture. We spent the better part of the morning looking at records and visiting with Helen. We bought her husband’s Jazz collection along with her mother’s antique featherweight sewing machine. At that time, Helen wasn’t sure where her life was going to take her so she wasn’t ready to part with her furniture but she promised us she’d call if she ever decided to sell.
Last week, our phone rang. It wasn’t Helen. It was her niece and her grandniece who had flown out from Wyoming when Helen suddenly became ill. They arrived in time to bring her back to her home where she died shortly after. As they started the process of sorting through Helen’s things, they came upon a note that Helen thad written on the back of our business card. It simply said, call Colleen & Don–they want to buy my furniture.
And so we went back to Helen’s house last week (to meet two equally lovely women) and we bought Helen’s furniture. Such is the “happy-sad” business of antiques dealers. But we were honored to meet Helen, and we are very happy to be able to find new homes for her treasured Heywood Wakefield. So if you’re looking for well-loved pieces that have a story, you know where to go!
Peace & love to Helen.
If you’re a New Hampshire native, you know that tourism is one of our state’s biggest industries which means that we all depend on dollars from people who are visiting. In the antiques business, one of the biggest obstacles for travelers is how to ship “the big stuff.” In the past, tourists and travelers have either had to drive trailers cross country or pay exorbitant freight charges when shopping for larger pieces. But thanks to uShip, that’s no longer the case.
uShip is an online marketplace for shipping services. The concept is simple. If you need something shipped, you register your job on the uShip web site by providing the pick up & delivery destinations, a description of the item (s), and date requirements. Then shippers bid on your job. It’s the competitive bidding process that reduces the cost. In simple terms, shippers need to keep their vehicles full to maximize their incomes so, as they travel & deliver, they pick up additional items via uShip to keep their trucks full. uShip customers can accept a bid at anytime during the process so it’s a very efficient and cost-effective way to move “the big stuff” across the country.
In the past few years, I’ve been able to sell large pieces to traveling buyers thanks to uShip. In fact, I’ve just sold some large industrial pieces to a couple in Colorado thanks to this innovative service. And last season, I sent a pair of cast iron antique urns to California with a traveler who became a registered uShipper to keep is vehicle filled with deliveries and cover his gas expenses! I’ve never had a customer complain about the cost or service of their uShipper so uShip gets a big “thumbs up” from us.
Our business depends on a lot of things but the most obvious is inventory. We work hard to keep our shop filled with cool pieces that will keep our customers entertained & inspired. Don & I are on the road every week doing our house calls but, beyond our Tuesday treasure hunts in attics, barns & basements, we have an army of pickers. Some of these hardworking friends pick full-time and others pick on the weekends to earn extra money.
Each one has his or her own specialty: Leslie picks vintage mid-century kitsch & clothing, Ian picks mantiques & leather, Julie picks clothes & accessories, John picks quirky & weird, Caron picks Asian imports & hippie stuff, Pete picks factory & architectural, and everyone picks garden for me because they know it’s my absolute favorite.
Today, I had a visit from Larry the Lighting Guy. Larry brings me every chandelier he can find including the incredible the crystal & iron fixture that hangs in the doorway of the new barn. Larry is an absolute joy, as are all of our pickers. We are very grateful for their hard work, for their funky & varied taste, and most importantly, for the joy that they bring to our day. Because what’s the point if you’re not having fun, right?
As we celebrate the first birthday of our web site, we are also celebrating the start of our 28th year in business. Sometimes we get so focused on the next project, that we forget to look back at how far we’ve come. So we took a quick dive into our trunk of old photos and pulled out these pictures of the property when we bought it in 1990. Talk about a fixxer upper!
Our first year was spent learning about septic systems, hot water heaters, and furnaces; the second year was spent learning about foundations, tree removal, and weddings; the third year was spent learning about running a business while sheet rocking, landscaping, and raising a baby, and so on and so on.
So here we are 28 years later. Two additions and two barns built. Many cherished family members gone and many new ones brought into the world. A pet cemetery filled with newfoundlands, cats, guinea pigs, bunnies, goats, and sheep. Two beautiful babies raised into two beautiful adults. And infinite gratitude for being able to make a living doing what we love to do.
As we look forward to another year, we know this business is not just about the stuff we sell, it’s about the people. Our friends, our family, our pickers, our customers–we thank you all for your moral support, your patronage, your insight, your enthusiasm, and most importantly, for the laughs. Every day is a new adventure for us and we are so thankful to have you all along for the ride.
It was more than 28 years ago when Don & I sat down with my mom & stepfather to talk about opening an antiques shop together. We looked at lots of properties and eventually settled on a run down pre-Victorian rental property on Route 4 in Northwood. Don & I agreed to manage & live at the shop and our adventure began. We started as a weekend “barn sale” in the original 18 x 24′ barn. The next 28 years brought weddings, babies, renovations, additions, and a lot of personal growth. About 5 years ago, my mom decided that it was time to slow down a bit so Don & I bought my parents half of the business & property. My mom continued to occupy space in the shop and to work on the weekends (while we followed our kids to soccer fields and theatre productions). But time moves on and things change. My stepfather died a year and a half ago. My mom has been creating a new life and has decided that she’s ready to fully retire from our business venture.
I grew up antiquing with my mom. I remember visiting May Atkinson (a renowned dealer from Newburyport, MA) back the seventies and helping my mom select oil paintings for our antique colonial home. I remember taking my lunch to school in an antique Cottolene Lard tin instead of a run-of-the-mill lunch box. I remember babysitting my brothers while my mom served as president of our local historical society. I remember learning about Betty lamps, cast iron peels, dutch ovens, candle molds, flax wheels, linsey-woolsey coverlets, turkey red damask, sponge ware, and on and on.
Though I will miss seeing my mom every Saturday, she will still be my resource for all things old. And she will still be my mom. And she will still be the kick-ass antiques dealer & business women who helped me become a kick-ass antiques dealer & business woman. So here’s to you Carla Penfield! Much love and gratitude from your favorite daughter.
Even in arctic temps, we are out there on the hunt! Last week, we were wandering around an abandoned optical factory with iphone flashlights in hand. Factory buildings are always fascinating and this one was no exception. The manufacturing equipment was massive–giant glass cutters, huge non-conductive slab work surfaces, and built-in sliding file systems. We brought home boxes of high-end glass lenses that were produced for medical & scientific equipment as well as some industrial stools & lockers.
We also bought some amazing industrial work tables that we couldn’t fit in our truck. Fortunately for us, the demo company that we work is very accommodating and offered to deliver the work tables/benches to us before demo. So we are anxiously awaiting delivery which is scheduled for next week. If you’re looking for a great industrial kitchen island or bar, check in with us! All of the tables that we bought are counter height–the smaller tables are metal with secondary wooden shelves underneath and the larger tables have metal frames with solid maple tops and a secondary shelves at the back. We are hoping to squeeze at least one of these work benches into the shop but some will definitely be heading for the storage barn.