There are 4 different parts of my business, Lost & Found:
- Writing the blog
- Selling the paint
- Painting custom work furniture
- Stocking my antique booth
It all started with my antique booth though, and even though I don’t put as much time into that aspect of my business as I used to, I still love hunting down good old junk and helping it find it’s way into new hands.
And along with hunting junk, finding the story behind the stuff makes the experience that much more rich.
Flea market vendors and estate sale workers typically don’t know the stories behind the things they are selling, so when the opportunity to buy directly from the person who owns them presents itself, you have the added adventure of hearing them walk down memory lane as they show you what they have to sell.
And that’s what I recently had the pleasure of experiencing.
It started about 2 months ago. I was outside, chasing down our the neighborhood old chihuahua who frequently escapes from his yard, when I ran into an elderly gentleman on the sidewalk.
He was standing outside a house on my street that is obviously abandoned.
Now remember, I live in ultimate suburbia, so it’s not very often you come across and overgrown, abandoned home around here.
But this house, according to neighborhood gossip, has been empty (at least of people) for over 10 years.
I was never able to get more of the story though about who owns it, how it got that way, and so on.
That little chihuahua though was about to help me solve a neighborhood mystery--the elderly gentleman I met on the street turned out to be the owner of the house!
We struck up a conversation and he started telling me all about the house, what’s inside it, and how it continues to be vandalized.
Turns out, after his first wife died about 15 years ago, he decided to move out of the house and just left most of the contents. Why he did that, I am not quite sure . . . but that’s the story.
He mentioned that because of the recent vandalism, it may finally be time for him to start getting stuff out of the house and possibly putting it on the market.
Well, wasn’t he lucky to have met me, a junk hunter!
We exchanged business cards and I told him anytime he was up for it, I would meet him at his house and look through what all he has.
I honestly wasn’t expecting to hear from him. I mean, this house has set in this exact state for over a decade.
Could my little entreaty to him really make him decide it was time to clear some stuff out?
Well, I guess it could!
A few weeks ago, Mr. Neighbor shows up at my front door and we set a date later that week to go dig through his house!
He was so sweet . . . very concerned about the broken glass and me hurting myself.
I assured him I was quite adept at picking through big piles of messes, and I was tougher than I look 🙂
When the day of the appointment came, my mom happened to be in town and she went with me.
We were both absolutely speechless when he opened the front door and invited us in.
- Piles and piles and piles of boxes, with stuff spilling out everywhere
- A kitchen, still with cabinets fully stocked and drawers filled with everything under the sun
- About 500 decorative, light-up Christmas houses set up all around the living room, on makeshift bookshelves
- Closets stuffed full of vintage clothing
- Entire bedrooms that looked like they were stuck in time–full bedroom sets, family photos on the wall, beds made and drawers filled with clothes
- Upstairs wall-to-wall bookshelves stacked to the brim with old books, postcards, and records.
I could go on . . . we spent 2 hours digging and barely scratched the surface of what this man had stored in this house.
There were entire rooms and outbuildings we couldn’t even get into . . . all around the corner in my little suburb.
I ended up buying from him a ton of old books, a huge stack of vintage postcards in plastic sleeves, a few pieces of antique english ironstone I found tucked in a kitchen cabinet, an old suitcase, some garden gnomes, a hand-made nativity set, and some copper cookware.
So this story is really fun, but also pretty sad.
I don’t know why this gentleman left everything in this house like he did.
He has children, but he said none of them want anything.
And the house had been deteriorated from lack of maintenance, so holes in the roof and pests had torn up and damaged so many wonderful things.
A silver lining to the story–Mr. Neighbor did spend lots of time telling me about how he and his new wife spend half of their year on cruise ships and love their new condo in Florida! So he seems happy in his new life.
I was really glad I had the chance to meet Mr. Neighbor and help him unload a few things.
But I was also thrilled to rescue these things out of a falling down house with the hope of putting them into the hands of some people who will treasure and appreciate them.
That is my heart with Lost & Found!
Giving new life to old things and new homes to things forgotten by others.
But by now, I’m sure you’d like to see some pictures…well, here are a few photos of my booth space with some of Mr. Neighbor’s finds, along with other “newly stocked” items. Enjoy!
This giant collection of vintage Little Golden Books was one of the best things I bought from him.
Since putting them in my booth a few days ago, I think I’ve sold 10 or 12. I’m so glad they are making their way back to people who want to treasure them.
Some of the books I found weren’t able to be saved intact, but they still had some gorgeous illustrations.
I bundled up pages from this children’s book, in hopes that someone will see their beauty.
They would make perfect framed art for a nursery.
And though I found this month’s ago, my little geometric design maple dresser is still for sale!
The last thing I want to show you in my booth space is completely unrelated to the story of Mr. Neighbor.
I’ve been wanting to spruce up my Fusion paint display, but I needed just the right piece to use. It had to be not too tall, and have lots of shelving space. When I found this old china cabinet at my local thrift store for $75, I knew it would work perfectly!
I took off all the doors and also the top trim piece (bc that would make it too tall for my space). While my mom was in town, she helped me by painting the outside in Buttermilk Cream, and the inside Inglenook.
It now is the perfect display! It already had a light installed, which really helps show off the Fusion colors. And all of my products (well, just about all of them!) fit now in one space.
So there you have it 🙂 A little tour through my booth, plus the story behind the stuff.
I guess the moral of this post is this:
Always chase down neighborhood chihuahuas,
because you never know where they might lead you.
There’s actually a Part 2 to this story! You can read it here.