Some thoughts on shopping for vintage
Today is Bath's first vintage and antiques market at Green Park Station, a disused railway station in central Bath. Frankly, I was disappointed. The organisers have made an effort, and there were appealing things like a pop-up tea room, but too many of the stalls were just selling bric-a-brac. I don't have any problem with bric-a-bra per se; back in the 1990s, when I first moved to the city, there was splendid and cheap junk market in the old bus depot – as well as my treasured 1930s film magazines, I bought a tailcoat there that had moths (discovered before they damaged anything precious) and generally would have fun padding around looking at stuff. So why didn't I enjoy this market?
For me, there are two ways of shopping for vintage. The way I buy most often is from charity shops / car boots/ jumble sales. Everyone I know with more than a passing interest in vintage knows that it would be ruinous to shop only from dedicated sellers of period items, and that if you're prepared to go regularly and look through the 63 Jilly Coopers three weeks running to find one novel by MG Eberhart, or wade through 87 polyester scarves, some with dubious marks, because sooner or later you'll find a silk one for £2, you can find a great deal of what you need.
(Scared of finding scungy bits in clothes, stained cups or mildewy books? Can't face sniffing the armpits in an old frock before making a buying decision? Dare I say it, you might not like vintage as much as you think you do.)
Anyway, the other way to buy vintage is to shop from a vintage specialist; the vintage clothing seller, the retailer specialising in old china. If someone advertises as specifically selling vintage, I expect two things: one, that prices will be relatively high; and two, that the sellers will be justified in charging a premium because they will have done the legwork required to bring a lot of desirable vintage into one place. I'll spend more, but save time.
I expected the market to be packed with the latter type of stall. There were a few that fitted into this bracket, such as one selling midcentury modern homewares, Mrs Stokes' teaware stall, a stall devoted entirely to door furniture and one selling vintage toys and games, but there were plenty that just seemed to be selling random old stuff at very high prices, with the assumption that people into vintage will buy any old tat, and I can sift through much cheaper random old tat in charity shops. For me to go back to the market, either the prices have to drop or the quality of stall has to improve.
What do you expect from people claiming to be selling vintage? And where are your happy hunting grounds? (You don't have to be too specific, if you don't want people coming to hoover up 'your' stuff!)