Sunday, May 15, 2011

Silver Lake Flea Market, Hollis, NH

Last weekend I drove North to Hollis, NH, to check out not one, not two, but THREE flea markets, all conveniently located on a section of Route 122. I'm not entirely sure why they don't just merge to become one giant flea market monopoly, but market politics aren't important – the key thing is that there's a lot of cheap stuff.

The slight downside is that you do have to pay for parking. There are lots (read: fields) that are maintained by the flea market which will run you about $2, but I found parking for $1 at a random person's house who turned their yard into parking for flea market attendees. My first score of the day!

From there I headed across the street to Shirley's Flea Market, which is right next to the Hollis Flea Market. Honestly, I'm not entirely sure where the dividing line is between the markets, so for convenience's sake, I'm going to treat these the same because there's not much difference in layout and selection. Tables are positioned somewhat haphazardly under pine trees without much of a discernible pattern to the vendor spots. I found it difficult to keep track of where I'd been with this set-up, but, in truth, I wasn't especially wowed by too much of the selection. I'd say the majority of the tables felt more like a yard sale, which can still yield good finds, but you have to wade through the selection of late 80s board games, Avon and paperback books first. I wasn't in the wading mood (I had a lunch date with my mom and sister to get to), but I did pick up some vintage fabric for $4 and a cute wire basket and metal pot for $12. My only piece of advice to the market owners would be to get rid of the cans nailed to trees marked "butts." Or maybe not put them at eye level . . . or maybe not have 100 of them . . .

Across the street is the Silver Lake Flea Market. This was a breath of fresh air in terms of layout (finally, rows!) and there were more antique and vintage sellers. There's even a row of indoor booths, which I imagine is handy on drizzly days. I just purchased a tiny pitcher for $1 that I'm going to use to hold toothpicks, but I saw lots of things that piqued my interest including vintage metal patio chairs, pretty glassware and an awesome round rug with a chicken (how I wish I had a place for it!).

I spent about 45 minutes checking out the various tables, but I was in speedy-mode so I think you could spend more time if you were in the mood to pick through. Most of the vendors seem more than willing to haggle so you could definitely get some good deals here. I recommend bringing a big tote bag to hold your finds, though I saw a couple of people with wagons. If you buy furniture, you have to haul it away yourself, so plan ahead in terms of transport and manpower.

Here is where to find the Hollis Flea Market, and its website (the only one with a website, I believe). The hours should be more or less the same for the two other markets.

Hollis Flea Market
436 Silver Lake Road
Hollis, NH 03049
Open Sundays at 6 a.m. until about 3 p.m.; April-early November

I recommend trying to get to the market in the morning – I arrived by 10 a.m. and it was definitely hopping, though thanks to the open layout, it doesn't feel overly crowded. There are several snack stands if you get hungry, and make sure to bring plenty of cash.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Consignment Corner, Chelmsford, MA

You can't see it in this photo, but there's a total of 6,000 square feet of shopping space for you to get into trouble in.

It never ceases to amaze me how much awesome stuff consignment shop owners can squeeze into their retail spaces. In the case of the Consignment Corner in Chelmsford, you get not one but two buildings filled with antiques, collectibles, glassware, dishes, furniture, art and more than you probably care to see listed out here.

Consignment Corner is on my local cheap-stuff circuit as it's a mere 20 minute drive from home. On my last visit, I picked up a rabbit garden ornament for $10 (I am now officially cutting myself off from cement animals), a fun metal plate for $3 and a pretty framed needlepoint dated 1948 for $8. And that's just the tip of the bargain iceberg. A couple of years ago I purchased a fancy coffee table and scallop-top end table for about $75 total (not even Bob's Discount Furniture can beat that).

My all-time favorite find was a sugar bowl with a spoon holder for $6. It just oozes vintage cuteness.

Other excellent items discovered on my last trip include a selection of painted storage drawers for $18 and a yellow ladder for $22. I really, really wanted to buy it, but I already picked up a bicycle-riding chicken from Home Goods in the morning. There are limits to the number and scale of objects I can safely bring into the house without comment from the husband.

The owner is super nice and helpful if you're looking for something specific. If you happen to be browsing on a chilly day, just dress appropriately because one of the two buildings is not heated. No worries – the main shop is climate controlled. Didn't come with cash? Fear not, the shop accepts plastic. All the more reason to love it.

 Here are the hours and location:

Consignment Corner
17 Groton Road (Rt. 40)
North Chelmsford, MA 01863
(978) 251-7130 *
Hours May-Oct: Wednesday-Thursday 10-5; 
Friday 10-4:30; Saturday 11-5; Sunday 10-4

Just one directional note of caution: If you plug the address into your GPS, chances are it's going to take you to exit 32 off of Route 3, which just happens to be the most confusing traffic circle known to man. It's worth the hassle if you're trying to get to the Einstein Brothers off of the same exit, but if you're not going to stop for a cinnamon-sugar bagel, save yourself the headache and take exit 33 toward Chelmsford.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Oh My Gosh Antiques & Collectibles, Sterling, MA

If you've never been to my "Oh My Gosh" Antiques, do yourself a favor and go there on your next free weekend. This place is packed with affordable home decor, garden accessories, dishes, tools, furniture, architectural salvage, vintage toys and more or less anything else you can think of.

It's housed in a cider mill that dates back to the late 1800s. The mill ceased production in the 1980s and since then has gone through several renovations and owners. The current incarnation is an antiques and collectibles shop with more than 100 dealers and even a few specialty shops like a bead store, paint-your-own pottery studio and period furniture dealers.

The main event is certainly the dealer shop. Now, I pride myself on having excellent stamina for bargain-hunting trips, but I think I may have met my match (in a good way). It doesn't look so big from the parking lot, but let me tell you, this place just keeps going and going. Just when I thought I had reached the end, I'd spot another row or room of dealers. By the time I reached the basement, I had to take a few minutes to sit with my head between my knees due to the overwhelming amounts of vintage cuteness. It was just too much. I eventually got it together and went on to finish my trip and even managed to stay under budget in spite of a very long list of potential purchases.

The owner, Cheryl, said that she's been in business for nine years. She also raises about 25 chickens, which totally makes me love her. I also kind of love that she mentioned how unpleasant it is to shovel now-thawed-out chicken droppings from the floor of the coop. That's a level of detail that makes her a very personable shop owner. It is also making me reconsider my dream of someday raising chickens.

My exciting finds for the day were a pink depression glass bowl for $5, a hedgehog garden statue for $20 (not cheap, but that's what these hunks of cement go for), a drawer for $6 that will eventually become a planter, a metal flower candle holder for $5 and a chicken statue of sorts for $9. I'm not going to lie – the chicken was a total impulse purchase. I just couldn't resist the addition of the scrambling chicks. I'm sure there's a shelf somewhere in my house that could benefit from some farm-like cuteness. And if not, then clearly I need to keep an eye out for a new shelf.

Other worthy finds included an adorable old dresses for $115 that I think would make the cutest-ever potting table and a fun sunburst mirror for $25. Maybe on my next trip.

Here's where to go to treasure hunting:

Oh My Gosh Antiques & Collectibles
15 Waushacum Ave.
Sterling, MA 01564
(978) 422-8675 *
Open daily 11-5, until 8 Tuesday and Thursday

The store accepts Visa, Mastercard and Discover, so don't feel like you're restricted to the cash in your wallet. I certainly didn't.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Jeffrey's Antique Co-op

I like to avoid antique shops because they tend to fall into one of two categories: 1.) Expensive or 2.) Expensive. Erm . . . okay, maybe one category. I will happily pay the price of admission to view cool old things in a museum – I can live with not having them on display in my home. Now, allow me to step off of my soap box to lavish praise on a new-to-me concept: The group shop.

Also known as cooperatives and galleries, these meccas of old stuff have several benefits over the traditional antique shop model (where a learned individual scours the planet for unique and generally expensive things). For starters, the big group shops can have upwards of fifty or more sellers. That brings shoppers like you and I plenty of choice and, best of all, a competitive market.

Sellers usually pay a monthly fee to rent out a section of the shop and are free to fill it with whatever they'd like. There are definitely sellers who have the really old, apparently-worth-a-lot stuff, but there are also vintage finds to be had. Some sellers even offer percentage-off deals on their booth offerings. Also useful: These shops tend to carry plate hangers and stands in a variety of sizes and a good selection of polishes and cleaners to buff up your finds.

I stumbled across a great group shop in Lunenburg, MA: Jeffrey's Antique Co-op. You probably aren't familiar with Lunenburg, and that's understandable because there's generally no reason anyone needs to go there. But it is a cute town, so if you're in the market for cheap stuff, then mosey on over and spend a couple of hours exploring the area. (Check the map on the left for other close-by shops!)

I liked Jeffrey's because it's organized in neat rows, so you can make your way methodically through the shop. I've been to group shops where it's tough to tell where one seller's booth ends and another begins (The Cottage in Amesbury, I'm looking at you), but this shop was set up well. To keep my trip to less than an hour, I generally ignore the rows with locked window displays. This may be a bit of an over generalization, but I figure if I have to get someone to unlock a booth, then anything in it probably costs more money than I want to pay.

I also liked the fact that there was someone from the shop walking around offering help – not in a creepy, "I'm going to follow you to make sure you don't steal anything" kind of way, more like "let me hold this stuff at the front for you."

I picked up a metal table for $10 that will make an adorable plant stand. There were some nice vases in the $10 range and I almost picked up a quilt stand for $20 (I've been keeping an eye out for something cute to hang dish towels on), but I left it for another lucky shopper. There was also a fun doll-size kitchen set that looked straight out of the 50s. Sadly, I think a miniature kitchen set would be crossing a line in the quirky home decor department, but I was tempted.

As an added bonus, Jeffrey's accept credit cards. (Yeah for not having to remember to stop at an ATM!)

Jeffrey's Antique Co-op
54 Chase Road
Lunenburg, MA 01462
Daily 10-5; Wednesdays 10-8

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Tilton and Cook Retail Cooperative

Allow me to preface this review with the following statement: I do not like writing negative reviews. No matter what you do, it always comes off a little bit pompous, and I hate to rain on anyone's parade (or business venture in this case). That said, I just wasn't a fan of Tilton & Cook Retail Cooperative and Furniture Consignment in Leominister, MA.

The concept certainly sounded promising. Its website describes the space as "a 10,000 square foot sprawling collection of retailers, artisans, flea marketers and service providers." However, what I found was a sprawling, dimly-lit complex that smelled like a musty basement.

The furniture consignment part actually looked fine, and the prices were fair. It's the rest of the building that left much to be desired. In order to delineate the space between booths, someone along the way made the unfortunate decision to use chain-link fence. Most of the spaces on the first level sat empty save a few here and there filled with pieces of furniture. The effect reminded me more of an animal shelter, except instead of puppies, you want to rescue forlorn-looking furniture.

A ramp with nothing between you and the first floor except thread-bare carpet leads to the next level. There isn't any fencing, thankfully, but there also doesn't appear to be any heat. A lone space heater was running at the entrance to a giant room with a network of tables filled to the brim with glassware, dishes and jewelery. The effect was rather cluttered and overwhelming, and with the chill and lack of good lighting, I just wasn't up to the task of going through everything.

On the way out I noticed a room containing a case with bakery items from Cakettes, a business based out of Warren, MA, that makes little truffle cakes and evidently runs a cafe of sorts at the cooperative. It's a cute idea, but given the old-stuff smell, dank lighting and warehouse-feel, looks terribly out of place.

As you've probably guessed by now, I don't recommend making a trip here if you're looking for fun home accessories or vintage finds. If you happen to be in the area visiting your great aunt and you need a dining room table or hutch, then by all means stop in and see what they have, but in its current state, I think you'd be better off checking out some of the consignment shops in the neighboring towns. There is a lot of potential here, and I allow that I may have seen it at a bad time, but that still leaves the off scent, chain-link prison cells and terrible lighting.

If you're interested, here's where you can find them:

Tilton & Cook Retail Cooperative and Furniture Consignment
38 Spruce St.
Leominister, MA 01453 * (978) 537-0500
Open Thursday-Sunday 9-4

I went to an antique co-op in the next town over, which was a much more successful venture. More details to come later in the week!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Lancaster Flea Market

Ed and I did some flea market/consignment shop scouting this morning in lovely Lancaster, Leominister and Lunenburg, MA. Our first stop was the Lancaster Flea Market. I had mixed feelings about it thanks to a less-than-stellar Yelp review that indicated that the market was past its prime. The market's website doesn't help – on the "What do we have?" page, highlights include incense, towels, vitamins and tarps. That's quite an assortment.

While the market did indeed have some of those delightful things, there were vintage, antique and collectible sellers in attendance, which made me happy. Of course, there were also booths where it looked like someone dumped the contents of their basement and fled the country. Ed pointed out that this might actually be cheaper than renting a storage unit. But if you can look past those fire hazards and the sellers with handbags of dubious origins, you might find a treasure or two.

I picked up a colander for $5 that I plan to paint and use as a fruit basket. I considered a few other purchases, including a framed crewel embroidery for $8 and a wooden crate for $15, but due to poor planning on my part, Ed ended up with all of the cash. That meant I had to seek him out before making a purchase, and I was not about to get into another cute vs. practical argument. So, learn from my mistake and be sure to commandeer the cash beforehand.

Here's the skinny on the market:

Lancaster Marketplace
1340 Lunenburg Road
Lancaster, MA 01523
Open Sundays 8-4 year-round

Parking is free, but there is an admission charge of $2 per person. Thankfully, there's a two-for-one coupon if you sign up for their newsletter. I kind of hate the idea of having to spend money to get in to a place where you're supposed to spend more money, but there are some amenities that you might not find at an outdoor market, like restrooms, shopping carts and a full-service snack bar. Plan on bringing cash – I didn't see any vendors taking credit cards.

Stay tuned this week for reviews on a great antiques co-op and a creepy furniture prison!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Reruns - Londonderry, NH

I was in consignment heaven while perusing Reruns, a shop in Londonderry, NH, about 5 minutes off of Route 93, exit 4. For starters, the place is HUGE, with two floors and rooms that keep on going and going. Seriously, I lost count after a while. The product selection ranges from antiques to gently used furniture and decorative pieces and everything in between.

I picked up a cute bird creamer for $7.20 and a pretty relish set for $12. I saw several other things piqued my interest, including a vintage bread box for $24 and – be still my chicken-loving heart – a mini wooden chicken coop filled with chicken figurines for $25. I'm pretty sure Ed's ears start ringing when I'm about to buy something frivolous, because I could practically feel the raised eyebrows from the parking lot. Alas, the chickens would have to find another home.

There were a lot of dishes and glassware, something that's certainly not hard to come by at these sorts of places. But the variety of merchandise more than makes up for that slight overage in stock. There's a clearance section, a room with old books, vintage postcards, framed art and plenty of furniture. Merchandise is discounted by 10% after 30 days and 20% after 60 days, so make sure you check the date on the tag.

And now for the detailed information:

3 Crosby Lane, The Gilcreast House
Londonderry, NH 03053
(603) 434-7067 *
Open Monday-Saturday 10-6; Sunday noon-5

The shop accepts Mastercard and Visa and  is conveniently located just down the road from the best Home Goods ever, so be sure to stop in there (assuming you don't blow your budget at Reruns, which could happen).