I eat, sleep, and breathe vintage life. Vintage is my passion and, thankfully, it’s also my job. Seeing the look of excitement when someone finds that final piece for their collection, or they stumble upon an item they remember from their childhood makes me giddy. For me, vintage is not only about the monetary value, but also the value it brings to our lives. Vintage is something to respect and fuse in to our modern lives. Looking to the past to enrich our present. And, if treated lovingly, our future.
Belle Starr Antiques opened for business in 2010. Eight years later, I still don’t believe I’m lucky enough to work here; it's such a blast. Last year, Belle Starr made a big move and expanded, staking her claim in downtown Fort Smith. I took a risk and purchased a small slice of land and an old factory at 410 North B. The risk has paid off; Belle Starr now houses over ninety vendors and we operate a seven day a week establishment.
In the eight years I’ve been open, I have been fortunate enough to see a wide variety of antique and vintage items come through our doors. I love hearing the stories behind the items, collecting knowledge and anecdotes along the way.
There is a shared sense of nostalgia with vintage items. We all have memories tied to eras and the style it represented to us. I cannot tell you how often I hear, “My grandma had one of these!” If you’re drawn to something, whether it remind you of your childhood or just call to you in some way, buy it. These items aren't in multiples and readily available. That's the beauty of it. It's the luck of the draw, the thrill of the hunt. Not to mention the fact that you're paying absolute respect to it by recycling it back through, giving it new life.
Quality vintage is getting harder to find, becoming more obsolete. The products were made to last. They weren't created to be disposable, the materials and craftsmanship are what stand the test of time.The act and art of buying vintage is the ultimate recycling. A sustainable lifestyle better achieved by fusing these type items can only enrich the world of the environmentally conscientious person. For example, this amazing set of dessert dishes were found in store for just $9. Not only is the product itself more durable, the price itself is easier on the home budget. Quality vintage glassware blends right in with your modern table setting.
Perusing the aisles of big box department stores, you can see nods to vintage eras everywhere. Mid Century, one of my personal favorites, is known for beautiful clean lines, fitting in seamlessly with modern, minimalist style. While I love the influence Mid Century is having on today’s designs, it breaks my heart a little to see these items mass produced at triple the price and a fraction of the quality.
If you want to get into vintage, and you should, shopping your local market is the way to do it. With a little searching, you can find quality items that were produced in the 1950s; made of solid wood and built to last. For example, this incredible Mid Century collection came in the shop not long ago from Modern Vintage Company. That Heywood Wakefield hutch is now in my dining room. I called dibs as soon as it came in. Because I know better than to pass up an incredible piece by an incredible maker for an incredible price.
Most people, when they hear the word vintage, automatically think expensive. But, that isn’t necessarily the case. Shopping vintage offers a unique selection, allowing shoppers to add vintage elements to meld with their modern lifestyle as they come across them. It's incredible the deals you can find, and often negotiate. Something you certainly can’t do at a department store.
I practice what I preach. My home, built in 1947, has such a unique charm, uneven cabinets and all. My store is housed in an old factory. Built in the 1960s, it is the perfect location for our vintage market with ample opportunity for future growth. Investing in something that existed and sat, seemingly forgotten, has allowed business to flourish and bring joy and nostalgia to a lot of people.
When you shop for items in a vintage store, you are giving yourself the opportunity to piece together your own one of a kind vibe, a charm you create for yourself. The pieces in my home range from my favorite eras in style, 1920s - 1960s; an eclectic cohesion of Art Deco to Mid Century Modern that works well together because they all reflect my passions.
Don’t be afraid to mix patterns, eras, or styles. You are what really ties the whole room together. Though, you can never go wrong with a well-placed rug.