A Conversation Between Two Professional Thrift Shoppers
"Museum Service Too"
“We’ve broken through now; through the confusion ...and delusion... of buying rare antiques for pittance at thrift stores? The reader missed it? It’s pretty clear: We, the professional, have knowledge of... the (positive) design merits... of objects... for sale in thrift stores. A ‘you don’t’ is our common thrift store encounter. That means ‘walk right by it’. ‘It’ is a true (and preferably rare) antique... priced ...for pittance. MY... our... COMMON day is absolved by, eventually, thrift store after thrift store, discerning a ‘day payer’ (includes gas and lunch at restaurant) find. We never know what design medium and design form it will appear as. There is, in denoting the broad... VERY BROAD... realms of design... too many... to predict or pre-suppose. It is, as we have tried to demonstrate... simply sitting there... on a shelf of bric-brac (‘crud’) ‘for sale’. Our ‘eye’ whisks over all... plucking each ‘good one’ from the shelves for pittance in seconds. And then we leave.”
“Might as well give them up to a sad truth too. While your at it.”
“Oh... you know; the... HOW should I call them... fairly.”
“Call who? And what’s ‘fairly’?’
“Well... they’re there, buying. You know who I mean. Mr. and Ms Smart-Ass. The NEW world order (of buying ‘antiques’ in ‘thrift stores’).”
“You mean the sort-ta-like SF (Part Four) but ‘claim (to be) pro’, semi-pro, MISTER Pro or Mrs. Grab-Art?”
“Your always generous (with your labels).”
“Mrs. Art Pro. How about Mr. DEALER. Mr. Cell Phone Look-up? Ms. Grub the Stuff. Mrs. WATCH YOU? Yeah, yeah. I really like Mr. and Mrs. I’m-Taking-a-Second Look at All the Crap I Grabbed Because Now I’m Not Sure About It (being a great art find I can sell on the internet).
“Yes... they are VERY cute.”
“You always, like, want to TALK to those people. Like... that’s soooo weird.”
“It’s not weird. It’s moth and flame. I mean... they ARE THERE with a battle plan. And they totally don’t get it (art, design). They think it’s THEM; THEY KNOW and they WILL tell you about it. Like: ‘I’m a DECORATOR’. Really? Well... I clean out cat litter boxes. That’s why I’M here. I mean really; it’s FUNNY.
“But sad behind that. You know; ‘throwing at it’. They’re throwing everything at it they got and, like: HEY BEEN TO A MUSEUM RECENTLY DOESN’T LOOK LIKE IT TO ME.”
“So we should say that your pretty much all American; American design. That’s what you are buying. Mostly. I mean... you buy around (outside of her fields of expertise) pretty good. But Americana is you.”
“I stick to that. I like it. I find it. I find a lot more than I’d ever expect.”
“So you are, we must understand, all over the board (very inclusive of design forms) of American design. That includes, like, World War II and Pop Culture but is deep in the early periods (17th-19th century American decorative arts). It’s dolls and books and china plates and rugs and frames and rings and buttons and eye glasses and... like... NUTS”. But American. Mostly.”
“I do European. And Pacific rim. I mean. I can’t fail mostly.”
“But it’s Americana; like... AMERICANA wristwatches.”
“Right. I see it (use her art-design trained eye)”.
“Then you goof on the guy buying a painting that sucks.”
“Well... I have to. I mean... it’s just that he’s staring at it...: THAT means it sucks and HE thinks it’s (him staring at it) making it GOOD. If a thrift shop painting doesn’t make it in, like, TWO seconds and from twenty feet away then, I promise, in the art world (her art and design discerning eye) IT SUCKS. So, like, I can’t resist watching them. I mean: ‘HE’S GONNA BUY IT YUCK’.”
“Didn’t we start with paintings?”
“Yeah; Flat Rate (Part One ). He’s CLASSIC. He’s, like, out there right now trying to find a painting.”
“And you’ve told him; someone has to HAVE a good painting before a thrift store can have a good one for sale cheap. Most people do NOT have a good painting. Most paintings suck so... therefore... most painting in thrift stores suck. So you don’t need to stare at them trying to decide if they are good. They are not.”
“Most art in thrift shops is no good. That’s because most of the art people (the general populace) have is no good. We’re looking for a very singular item; good art. Decorative arts. Good design. If you don’t know what that is your gonna screw yourself as soon as you start buying (paying real dollars) for what you think is good. It’s probably not good. It’s probably actually BAD. You’ve (the reader) been told.
“After that it’s, for us, like, wild card. I mean: Remember when we said about not touching the stuff. Like... that’s real. We don’t touch the stuff in thrift stores. I mean... yuck. All I ever do is the ‘that one’. Then I’m gone. Your more social about it. But, your WAY more hands off than anyone else around.”
“I’m... I keep it clean. But your like... crazy. With a point.”
“I’m... I keep it clean. But your like... crazy. With a point.”
“And the point is what?”
“Well... design. No need to touch unless it’s a ‘go’ of good design. Then just take it to check out.”
“I like to think of it as courteous on my part; I’m, like, LEAVING IT (the rest of it) undisturbed for, well, THEM to... Hey, who cares.”
“I don’t think you can be stopped or beaten. Really. You especially. You bring so much with your eye. It doesn’t matter that your that good. It’s actually that the others (in the thrift stores) are THAT BAD. That’s why I can succeed. You know: I’m not competing with someone like you. Dealers like you aren’t in the thrift stores. That’s why I have a chance. Like we said: Most of it is just sitting there on the shelf for sale.
“Ok... I want to do a design flirt here; give an example of how WE see things using design. I’m not gonna be too detailed. YOU (the reader) can fill out the details with your own STUDY of design. What I want is to try and show is how WE ‘see’.”
“This is in the thrift stores?”
“Well... our SEE in the thrift stores but this is about ‘see’ with ‘design’ soooo thrift stores, I guess, just happen to be the room we’re in. Not at first though: First comes design.
“Design, here, first, in this example, is design of furniture; furniture design and designs. As furniture emerges as design form (meaning that first there was no furniture and then it began to ‘appear’ in western civilization) a FORM of furniture appeared that was a table to serve tea on; a tea table. That’s, like, at the earliest ... 1720’s peaking as a design form in the 1760’s and declining by 1800. It ‘declined’; began to disappear as a design form of furniture, when people ....stopped drinking tea and started drinking coffee. ‘Tea tables’ lingered as a furniture design form but... coffee drinking came along and pushed tea drinking to the side and... people drank coffee in a different way than they drank tea; men as business beverage-at-hand and women as a parlor beverage (a ‘parlor’ was a new design form of room-in-a-house. Tea tables... actually... disappeared. And for a while... during the century of the parlor... coffee was served... there (in the parlor)... from a side table. BUT the parlor changed as a room design... to become a more family inclusive AND expansive room slowly titled ‘the living room’ and there... in this new room design setting appeared a new furniture design form FOR service in that room... the ‘coffee table’. That is... a NEW design form ‘appeared’ and... is still hanging around in the living room (that, too, the living room, is still hanging around as design form). The coffee table is still an active... design form of furniture. For the record, the coffee table IS a design form that people are ‘choosey’ about... as opposed to ‘other furniture’ in their ‘living room’. That means that ‘people’ actually make personal art choices about ‘their’ coffee table. That... ah... shows... off... their ‘taste’ (knowledge of art). Yes it does.
“Understand the premise? Design forms appear and disappear in... design history.
“Jumping to the modern shopping paradise of the thrift store... YEAH they have all kinds of coffee tables to choose from and NEVER (? Ha, ha) ‘turn up’ an unnoticed 18th century TEA table in there...: Would one know one if one... walked by it? But... more stunning to the current design eye is... denoting that thrift stores are the vanguard of design-gone-bad-so-dumped-by-owner...: The ...American... design... form of the ‘home entertainment unit’; the monster that used to hold ‘THE TV” before ‘flat screen’... IS in the process of ...disappearing... as an American design form... by being ‘try to sell them’ at ...a thrift store near you RIGHT NOW. YES one may using their art and design eye to NOTICE that the back forty of the Salvation Army is FULL of a VANISHING AMERICAN DESIGN FORM... right now (2014).
“THAT... process... of (furniture design and) usage in civilization... appearing and ...disappearing design forms IS what the design based vision of “STUFF” is “SEE”. That’s what WE SEE in a thrift store; design in flux. In this case too... it is... disappearing AMERICAN design. Home entertainment units WILL ‘disappear’ and become a ‘rare form’ of ‘American furniture’. The soft lesson here is that thrift stores ARE on the vanguard of ‘design’ ‘changes’. Didn’t realize that thrift stores have a ‘museum service’ too? They do; they are telling the design / art eye ‘what’s going on out there’.