Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Board Silly

Last week I shared with you some of my patriot's purchases from a local thrift store I frequent.

This store also holds a small auction every Saturday afternoon at 2:30 PM. 

There are people visiting "my" thrift shop routinely just to check out the auction. What goes up for auction is anything deemed more valuable than usual, at times true antiques, larger pieces of finer furniture or original art work. Potentially whatever the staff at this store eyeballs and envisions "Auction-worthy!" goes into the mix.

In the run-up to each auction they place on display a black binder filled with one page for each item going up for bids. At the top of every page they write out what they are calling the item (often less helpful than you'd imagine) along with a number (numbers being harder to confuse). 

They list a starting bid, an amount derived from the same completely stupefying process used to price other regular merchandise sold on racks and shelves.  People interested in bidding are instructed to enter a name, a telephone number and a bid, on the corresponding item's page.  

Typically the bidding goes up one dollar at a time but periodically some enthusiast will narrow the competitive field by jumping the dollar amount up into what I consider the Thrift Store Stratosphere. 

I tried attending the auction a few times but had to swear off. My stubbornly competitive nature is a definite drawback when it comes to bidding to buy.

Swept up in the process, I come perilously close to bidding prices potentially much higher than reasonable and absolutely higher than the ceiling I'd pre-determined. Keeping track of the cost faded as the object of the auction morphed to become "do whatever it takes to beat out that b*stard trying to buy my treasure!".  

The auctions were not a good way for me to shop, clearly.   

But I do still covet, dearly, several items I see on auction from time to time. Not to be totally foiled by my competitive nature, I have devised an alternative.I make a bid in the notebook. I don't do this by any particular formula, I go up one dollar over the last bid in the book and leave it there. 

If on the following Saturday afternoon somebody shows up willing to pay a dollar more than I bid (if I am still the highest bid in the book), then so be it.  I lose.  If on the other hand, this is one of those items that seems to appeal to me more than anybody else around - and that does happen rarely - then I win! 

A store employee dutifully calls me to say my bid was the winner and I have until Tuesday to come in and pay and pick up my treasure.  This tends to trigger a several hour to days long spell of being inordinately pleased with myself.  If I win an auction item without going through the in person bidding, in my book, that means the universe decided.   The universe agreed I deserved to win!

Who am I to argue with the universe?

Which is how I ended up with this beauty.A Howard Automatic Folding Ironing Table. "The Finest of Them All". I think it is completely cunning and cannot imagine why nobody else wanted it.   They didn't and I did and I got it for about what it costs for two people to eat burgers and fries at a fast food spot. 

I cannot find anything that tells me how old it is. I am guessing most ironing boards went metal by the 1960s or thereabouts. I can't unearth any information on the original company other than some auctions for equipment which may mean they've gone out of business.

I don't really care. This Automatic Folding Ironing Table is valuable to me. I find older household laundry or kitchen tools and equipment charming, and I am happy happy happy to give this old board a new home.

I may be wrong to idealize the naiveté of the 1940s, 50s, and 60s, but I do. Items from that time span are appealing in a way I can't quite explain. It is partly a feeling of connecting through the items to my mother, her sisters, their mother and aunts before them. But that isn't all of it.

The appeal also rests in imagining the original purchaser, male or female, setting up a home, out buying these items with all optimism that these tools and conveniences were going to be part of how their home would function "just so". I believe we all do that with our shopping to one extent or another. It is later perhaps when we realize we've more or less missed the mark once the day to day reality of laundry or meal preparation settles in.

But at the moment when we are out doing the shopping, just then, at that point, it is all still a hypothetical. Our interaction, our relationship with the product is as yet an unrealized vision. As such, it is all still potentially perfect. I believe that is what tugs at me.  That sense of unrealized perfection draws me in like a bee to nectar.

How about you? Do you find any particular type of item appealing in a strongly emotional way? What embodies "perfection" for you when out shopping? It is your turn now and I'd really enjoy hearing from you.


Iris said...

I love your Howard Automatic! Your unrealized perfection idea is so well articulated. I've felt that vague notion many times but never thought through it before.

bee said...

ooohh. i love that. it would be great to stage pics. :D