Monday, April 05, 2010

Use it, Or Lose it!

Yesterday my friend and I paid a visit to our local flea market in the hope of finding some treasures...I was looking for goodies for my shop, and Debbie was on the look-out for gardenalia, as she is about to embark into the world of vintage selling too, by having her first ever stand at a fair later in the year.
We waited outside the gates before opening time (we weren't first in the queue, I hasten to add, as that would involve getting up VERY early! ;-))...And before long a huge queue of people had grown behind us. It is quite incredible really how many people are prepared to spend their day-off rootling through 'old stuff'! In fact it actually made me a little sad as I am all too aware that our high streets are beginning to suffer...(more on that in a moment...)

Once the gates were opened there was a huge surge of people running in to try to snap up a bargain, or to find an elusive treasure of one kind or another...
I bought a few bits and bobs on arrival and soon decided to take my more fragile purchases back to my car. This must have been about 11.30 am and as I walked out of the gates there was still a long queue of people still waiting to pay their entrance fee to come in - That's two hours after opening time! I find it quite remarkable really, to think that there really were so many people all looking to buy old over new, and yet, where do all of these people go after the fair is over?...Very few of them seem to be shopping on the high streets these days.

As I have had my shop now for around three months, and have chatted to a lot of people in that time, I am very conscious of the fact that few of us are using our local high streets now. I am still having local people come into my shop asking how long I have been there, as they haven't seen me before and that they rarely come into the town any more...

Its such an expense to run even the smallest of shops and these hard working entrepreneurs need our help if the independent shops are to survive. They provide the niche items amongst the often soulless, highly manufactured goods of the chain stores and supermarkets.

I spent all day yesterday searching for pretty, unusual items to fill my shop's shelves. I pride myself on the fact that I have always bought items that I love, taking hours sometimes to select pieces, one item at a time to fit with my look; rather than going to an auction, for example, and buying up a 'job lot' which may only have one or two items in a box that I actually like and would be happy to sell-on.
It seemed VERY difficult yesterday to find lovely things...MUCH was very expensive - far more than I would be happy charging in my own shop! I pride myself on passing any 'good buy' savings onto my customers and not charging more that an item is realistically worth...tricky when so much was expensive to start with...

Buying from fairs was so much easier just a couple of years ago. (For example! - and there are many more great buying trips in my blog's archive...)

Don't get me wrong, I realise the sellers at the fairs (I myself am often one of them!) need to make a living...and I do hope that there is room for all of us, be it at the various fairs and markets or on the high streets...Just don't be in too much of a hurry to dismiss the high street as the expensive place to shop, as I can assure you, in many cases it isn't.

The BBC will be filming a new TV series in Shepton Mallet as from May/June of this year. The programme is going to document how our shopping habits have changed and how the UK's smaller high streets are under threat for a variety reasons. Belinda has written the general details of the new series on her blog, which can be found here.

The few photos above were most of my purchases from the full day's foraging. Buying fabrics and lace is always a good buy for me as it means that I can make a one-of-a-kind treasure for my shop (at a reasonable price! ;-)) - With the added appeal that the bits and pieces have all been recycled.


I admit that I was a little disappointed with my haul yesterday, so needed another opportunity to search today...
Hubby and I made a quick visit to the annual Mells Daffodil Fair this morning. Usually we'd stay all day and watch all of the competitions and displays, but today we just did a quick flit of the 130 stalls and then came home.

(Well, apart from taking a few quick snaps of the fabulous Town Criers!...

...And Morris Dancers!)

My booty included a glass jug, deco mirrored frame and some pretty Victorian baby bonnets.
The Liberty Toile curtains are actually a perfect fit for our back room's window, so those will be staying with me.
This week I shall be getting my stock ready for the Vintage Textile and Costume Day at Dairy House this Sunday. A fair where you are sure to find some beautiful treasures...I shall also be using it as an opportunity to promote my little shop on Shepton's Market Place!

Hope you've had a lovely Easter weekend,
Niki x
PS: I'd also just like to share this with you - My youngest daughter has been working on this little Viking doll all day today. He's going to be a special pressie for a friend of hers who does historical re-enactments! So cute! :)


  1. Hello Niki! Love the Viking doll...your daughter did a great job! That's too bad that you didn't come home with as many nice things as you'd hoped to the other day. I love little out of the way shops in small towns and villages or even in cities if I happen to be there (which isn't often). I think there will always be people who love shopping in little stores and you're can find some WONDERFUL treasures at reasonable prices at shops like yours. I just wished I lived closer to yours! Have fun shopping for more goodies..thanks for sharing your 'finds' with us. Take care. Maura

  2. Your daughter's Viking doll is FABULOUS! I know where she gets her talent!!! ;)

    We face the same problem here... large chain stores ("megastores" some call them), and "warehouses" (where you can buy literally everything from your clothes, to car tires, to groceries, to your lumber), really are taking a toll on the Mom & Pop shops. We used to have an entire wall at our CookShop dedicated to housing a fabulous collection of cookbooks... that has all but vanished, as Amazon and other online outlets have cornered the market on books now. I used to have such fun ordering cookbooks for the shop; now the only ones we carry are the little local paperback cookbooks that Amazon doesn't have. Sad really.

  3. Hi Niki

    Although pleased with what I bought, I do feel that the flea market hasn't been as good over the past year or so compared to previous years. You have to search MUCH harder for something good and I agree with you about the prices.

    I got through the gates at around 10.30 & only stayed until lunch time as Alan cooked a Sunday roast for all 3 of us.

    Love the mirror and the lampshade, very pretty.

    Warm wishes
    Isabelle x

  4. Good for you sticking up for the High street shops, as you say they become limited and less variety as the big shops have cheaper imports.
    Having said that, I shop in at least two of the big name shops regularly and always buy British whenever possible.
    My nearest village used to have a Butchers', now we have 2 Co-operative society stores and neither seems to stock local produce! I do use them though for convenience when I visit the Doctors' Surgery or the Post office.

    Sorry for the length of this post!

    Glad you had some good buys at the two events.

    Best wishes,

    Sandie xx

  5. Your daughter is following in your footsteps, great viking! He is very cute.
    Isabelle x

  6. Hi Niki

    Sorry I missed you at the Flea. I came home with very few purchases (not like me!), having found it very difficult to find what I was looking for.

    It seemed strange buying rather than selling, and several dealers said 'oh, you'll be back ...' but I don't know that I shall.

    Panic mode is now setting in, making sure I am ticking off everything on the 'To Do List' for the Fair on Sunday.

    Sue xx

  7. Lovely post as always Niki, glad you managed to find some treasures over the weekend. See you Sunday! xx

  8. Hi Niki
    I agree with you (again). We travelled the 2 hours to Shepton, I bought a wheelbarrow for the garden, a beautiful chair for a child (chippy paint,1940s fabric)and a massive cockeral made from welded scrap metal for the garden, not a very good business trip! I was also trying to find people that would like to have a stand at our new Cotswold vintage fair, but the sort of stand that I was looking for didn't appear. We are trying to provide a fair which will give customers a visual feast (much like your shop). As you say a few years ago the fairs were much more of a source of lovliness at competitive prices. I stood at Malvern yesterday and had a good selling day, I only had time for a quick scout but again I couldn't find interesting stall holders.
    As far as shops, my friend Jane continues with an aclectic mix of exhibitions at her gallery (Winds of Change in Winchcombe)and she struggles, she continually tries to promote the town and spends much of her time helping stick-in-the mud business's with new ideas. I am taking on her gallery in the summer for a few months as a pop-up-vintge store, and am full of worries, however if I didn't try the new fair & shop idea I would forever be wondering...what if!
    I Know that people prefer individual & even eccentric shops to high street, it shows in that the popular stores Jack Wills, Toast, CK, etc all take their inspiration from vintage!
    I think I will stop now....sorry.
    p.s. Another talented girl in the family!
    pps see you on Sunday

  9. oops sory about my spelling mistakes!

  10. Guenievre12:14 pm

    Congratulations to your "youngest" daughter ! The Vicking Doll is nice !
    I understand (and agree with you) what you mean about "little" shops in town. It's the same situation in France ! People prefer to buy in supermarkets because they can find all what they need here ( except vintage things, ;-) )
    More and more little shops in French villages have to close, what a pity !
    Itry to go both : supermarkets and little shops ( where we can buy things they don't have in supermarkets ... and where we can speak to a seller)
    I went to a flea market yesterday and bought old laces, ribbons, old books.
    Have a nice week !

  11. Hello Niki,I love the lampshade! yes I agree car boots are becoming rather pricey here too,I had a shop a few years ago and I personally felt that the internet killed it for me and other small antique businesses,rather ironic as I sell online also,also my location wasnt that great,but your shop looks divine and I am sure it is a huge advantage to your high street,I prefer to shop locally as opposed to going into the larger stores,which I find are becoming more and more impersonal.

  12. Like mother like daughter...whata clever girl and what a lucky friend...I agree about use it or lose it...we try and use all our local stores even though it costs a little many little shops are going and its such a terrible shame...hope you had a lovely easter, I think you had a wonderful haul....loved the lace....

  13. Your daughter shows great talent, that viking is super. Agree with your 'use it or lose it' however in our town the small traders are being run out by huge rate bills and the only people who seem to be ablwe to fill the empty shops are charities and estate agents :(

  14. I do agree with you Niki, there are plenty of people out there willing to go out in all weathers to various fairs and markets to spend their money, but not coming into the high street.
    In my own town I am pleased to see the fruit and veg market coming back into our town (ironic that it was always a market town and yet the council chose to put the markets in the outer carpark, making it difficult for people to come in and park. So finally they wake up and smell the coffee lol ... bring the markets into the centre and just like the pied piper the people will follow.
    Have you thought of starting up your own flea market right outside your shop - you have enough contacts ?? (look at Portabello - they come from all over the world to visit) ... food for thought ;)
    Well i am hoping to see you soon, though i think i won't be making it this easter week ... can't believe it has been 3 months in the shop...

    best wishes Ginny xx

  15. Hello Niki,
    Just wanted to say I've been following your blog since you opened your shop, and I can't believe it's been 3 months. You've made a good point though about people selling things expensively at fairs. It's exactly the same round here. And most of the shops in our little town are charity shops which I find are also putting a premium on their items lately. Love all that you bought, and the viking is great.
    Only wished I lived nearer so I could visit your shop. Maybe a daytrip is due?? ;)
    Kind regards,

  16. Great Viking doll, we used to be in a Viking re-enactment group too !!
    It must be hard trying to buy for a fair price but being able to sell on for a small profit, your blog as ever, is lovely.
    twiggy x

  17. mummy you mean 'lose' not 'loose'!!

    love you!

    kay xxx


Thank you for finding the time to visit me...
Niki xx