Friday, April 4, 2014

Tote Bag Courtesans

Tote Bag Courtesans;
The Maine Antiques Dealer’s “Summer People”

            For the first ten days after the 4th of July, year round residential antiques dealers (pickers) shuffle.  They shuffle into their summer.  It’s high summer in the Maine antiques trade for seven weeks.  There are summer antiques auctions.  Summer antiques shows.  And summer antiques shops.  Some go “here”.  Some go “there”.  A few “sit shop”.  Not their shop.  Someone else’s shop.  James Hutton sits shop at The Gallery.  The owners are “gone for the day” (to an auction or show… or just shop hopping with lunch).  He sits at the desk in the front of the store and holds court with all the other pickers who show up knowing “he’s there Monday’s and Tuesdays” “all summer”.  They sit and talk, all day, oblivious to the world.  Hutton never “helps” a “customer”.  He never stops talking or even looks at a customer unless the customer proceeds to disturb him.  Very few ever do.  Women with tote bags come, walk throughout the store at varied rates, occasionally touch something, occasionally stand back to inspect something and …maybe… peer at something (usually made of sterling silver) in a locked display case.  Do they buy something?  Never on Hutton’s watch.
            “Tote Bag Courtesans” they are called.  “Tote Bag TROLLOPS!” Hutton calls them.  “They come in.  They circle.  They leave.  They know nothing about antiques.  Then they stand outside of the store in pairs comparing their new Turk’s head knot bracelets, solid gold lobster earrings and Greek style sandals after taking a pictured of the store with their cell phones.  They’re NOT courtesans; they are TROLLOPS.  Tote bag Courtesans ACTULLY KNOW SOMETHING and BUY SOMETHING!  They’re a whole different league.  They NEVER go NEAR an antiques shop in the center of a tourist village.  They never go near THOSE VILLAGES either.  They do not have to.  They already have (coastal Maine) property.  It’s already full of antiques.  With twelve courtesans for customers I can run a whole business.  With the trollops I tell them where the worst lobster roll in town is”.
            Tote Bag Courtesans are easy to spot.  They’re in front of you buying coffee in Yarmouth.  Perfectly “best” Preppy dressed… and a little too old to be doing that.  They are not on their cell.  Their doggy is professionally groomed.  They’re car is a decade old.  If they are really rough and tumble it’s a Subaru.  They carry the tote bag (Bean’s)… or better.  And know it.  When they look at you, you don’t exist.  Unless you sold them a thirty-six inch Chippendale bracket base desk with old finish, lipped drawers, original hardware and having come from a historically prominent local seafaring family’s estate.  Then they “nice to see you” “just thinking of you” “want to get an antique mirror”
            “Looking glass”.
            “Looking glass?”
            “Looking glass is the proper title for an antique mirror.”
            “That’s what my mother always called them too.”

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