We all know I'm a fan of vintage; that I've never met a flea market or estate sale I didn't like, and that given the choice between new and old, I'm almost always on team "old." (And that includes bourbon, wine, and houses, along with the jewelry I hunt for Elva.)
Several years ago, a friend in the antiques business recommended an up-and-coming website for online estate sales called Everything But The House that occasionally featured vintage and antique jewelry in its assorted offerings, and I had some luck finding some fun costume brooches and pendants to use in necklace designs here and there, supplementing our flea-market vintage adventures throughout the year.
It was wonderful--all bids start at $1, and because so few people had heard of the site at that point, odds were good one might score something fantastic for a pretty rockin' deal...and it was a quick trip to Cincinnati (their closest location) to pick up the wins. Now that Everything But The House has grown exponentially (and added a spot in Louisville) the deals are a little fewer and farther between...but they are there, and I've expanded my occasional searches on the site to include fun art, furniture, and decorative pieces for my house and studio.
When my daughters began learning to ride their bikes, and after I had such a joyful experience on two wheels on a recent adventure to Montreal (you can read all about it here), I decided it was time to find my own bicycle. I scoped out some of our wonderful local bike shops here in town, but never found anything that lit my world on fire, willing to wait for just the right ride to come my way. One winter afternoon, snowed in with the girls, I was browsing EBTH for jewelry, when a gorgeous green gem of a bike popped up in the line-up for a Louisville estate sale. A 1970s Schwinn Suburban with all its original hardware...one look and all three of us were sold. The girls cheered me on as I entered my bids, and a few days later, I was deemed the winner. We all high-fived and couldn't wait to meet her.
Though the chrome was a bit rusty and the tires needed replacing, I knew the bike could and would be fantastic. It's just like with those discarded chains and brooches--with some effort and vision, there is so much potential for beauty. I dropped my new/old bicycle with the guy in town who I felt might share my sentiments and perspective, the owner of Old Bikes Belong. I'd been following the shop on Instagram, seeing these rags-to-riches restorations of great old bikes, and I was certain he could bring the Schwinn back to life. Despite his initial hesitation (he sighed audibly when he saw the bike in the back of my car...not a good sign, but I gave him a pep talk that I'm SURE he enjoyed) he took on the challenge, and just a few weeks later, the bike was ready for pick-up.
I can't tell you how jazzed I was to see my new-and-improved vintage bicycle. Perfect paint job (original...he just cleaned it up) in glimmering green, the black leather seat (also original), brilliant chrome (restored to its high shine), and a beautiful basket that attaches to the back. I can throw my tote bag, lunch, and any flea market finds in the basket, hop on, and head from home to my studio just a few blocks away, adding such a sense of fun and brightness to my day with the bike-ride commute. I feel like a kid cruising down the Avenue; friends pass by, honking to say hello (I'm still working on waving and steering, peeps, so no offense intended if I seem unresponsive) strangers stop me to ask about the bike, I've even had some offers to buy it. For now, it's not for sale; it's way too much fun to ride, and, like so many other vintage finds, it brings such joy to see it brought back to life for another spin around the block.