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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Who Says Collectibles Can't Be Funny? Satan Pig, A Sign Of The Apocalypse

The King of Impeccable Taste is a cool character. Not much rattles him. He can look a scary clown in the eye and not flinch. He can see a ratty voodoo doll and only chuckle. He can whip up steampunk junk and fry up bacon in a pan and never, never let me forget he's a man and almost always has impeccable taste.

But one thing on our junket through Florence today rattled him. You know it has to be good to rattle him.

Of course, I screamed, "Come over here. This falls in the category: What The Hell Is This Doing In An Antiques Store." That's what I screamed. But this a family-friendly blog, so I usually refer to things as, what the heck is this doing in an antiques store.

But this thing definitely reminded us both of hell.

I am not lying. The King actually said," What the hell is a Satan Pig doing in here? Pigs don't have horns. I believe this thing is one of the seven signs of the Apocalypse."

"You mean, the sign of Calypso?" I asked. "The tag says it's a Mexican folk art pig. Maybe Calypso made it's way into Mexico more than I suspected?"

"I said Apocalypse," the King said tersely.

Still stunned, I looked for reason and logic in the world of folk art and collectibles.

After all, I have Frida Kahlo collectibles and books. I am a huge fan. I know that Frida, even at her grittiest, would not inflict a Satan Pig into the world of folk art--nor would any folk artist of her fine nation.

 Yes, the King kept hissing,"It's a Satan Pig. You cannot explain it away,"  as he did the sign of the cross.

OK, there are certain things in the world of collectibles and art you just can't explain away. So in order to cleanse and absolve myself, I went on another junket in Florence, the antiques capital of Colorado-- to find more scary clowns. It turns out there are indeed scarier things than clowns.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Who Says Antiques Can't Be Funny? Umm--And Crazy!

Yes, I find some antiques funny. OK, I find most of life pretty darn funny. Yes, I live in Florence--the antiques capital of Colorado and it was here I discovered just how funny antiques can really be.

A few weeks ago, many antiques shops decorated windows for Pioneer Days. I took some pictures of the windows at Legends and Lace, and the Iron Gate Antiques Mall, both on Florence's Main St.

For some odd reason, I was allowed to get a little crazy with the window at the Iron Gate. I showed some pictures of the display and some corny signs I printed up in previous blog posts. Naturally, I was a bit curious as to the reaction browsers and customers would have. I totally get that some people would think it was a bit over the top. In fact, one of the employees commented on how corny it was. When I casually mentioned that I might have had something to do with that travesty--the review changed to: cute.

Some feedback came in from customers. Sophisticated. I was surprised by that one. But the proof was in how much attention a window gets and how many of the items showcased actually sell from the window. OK, on both counts.

But sometimes things can backfire!

To refresh your memories. This was one of the corny things we did in the window.

That's an antique surgery or dental table. And the leg is a vintage prosthesis.

I thought it was corny. But hey, you try and decorate a window based on the items vendors have in their booths and somehow get a theme going.

So, here's where it almost backfired. I was sitting in Iron Gate Antique Mall by the door on an antique church pew. OK, I know it's sacrilegious to think of someone of my ilk to be in a church pew. But it's located by the door and occasionally I sit there and greet customers.

The pew has a great view of the entire window. I noticed two gentleman walking by, then they put on the brakes and stopped by the "leg" display. Even though I couldn't hear them, I could see them quivering with laughter.

I was thinking" Thank God! Someone besides me think this is a little amusing.

But these guys were laughing so hard, I was wondering why. They then came in the store.

As I greeted them (without mentioning I noticed them guffawing outside) I noticed the gentleman laughing the hardest had a leg prosthesis. I inwardly cringed, thinking: Oh my God! In my wildest window-decorating fantasies, I NEVER even thought of how people who were missing a limb would take this. What have I done!?

The men greeted me and strode by, still chuckling. They never once mentioned it was offensive.

And that's when I realized, if someone with a partially missing leg thought it was hysterically funny--then I too could come out of the closet and be as corny as I want.

Yes, even though it almost backfired: Who Says Antiques Can't Be Funny?

Florence can't be the only place in the country with some funny antiques. Feel free to send us your funny antiques' pictures and maybe we'll put the on the blog.

We Found YOU In Florence, The Antiques Capital Of Colorado: Alison Helsley & Rose-Marie Gerschefske

A priest, a rabbi and a parrot walk into a bar…No, wait! Two nice young women walk into a store in Florence, the antiques capital of Colorado and buy a tractor crankshaft… OK, now I have the story correct.

As most regular blog readers know, I semi-recently  started a new feature here. It’s simple. Not long ago, a marketing campaign started in Florence—Find It In Florence. I have nothing to do with that campaign. But since I am a perennially curious former newspaper reporter who has always been fascinated with the true stories evident in seemingly ordinary life—I decided to see what would happen when I pop out of nowhere with a camera and a notepad and ask people what they are going to do with that antiques’ find, they discovered in Florence. So, now we have: Will We Find YOU In Florence, The Antiques Capital of Colorado?

This time around we found two creative, fun-loving women who hauled a big rusty vintage tractor crankshaft ($42) t to the counter of the Iron Gate Antique Mall in Florence.

Naturally I could not help asking what they were going to do with that lovely, heavy rusty beast. I knew there had to be a better way to do weight training.

Alison Helsley of Canon City (recently relocated from Dallas, Texas) was delighted to find this work of art in Florence. She is planning to make a table base. She described the look she is going for as: “industrial, modern rustic.”
            Rose-Marie (left) and Alison show off their latest Florence find--a tractor crankshaft

Music to my ears! I knew exactly what she meant—and that scared me. But that’s what working around lovely eccentric, rusty and yummy vintage things does to a person.

“It’s going to make an awesome coffee table,” Alison said.

I have no doubt about that. Alison said she is going to use a metal cog as the base and some pallet wood as the top.

As usual, I asked Alison to send True Story Club a photo of the finished product.

Alison was accompanied by her friend, Rose-Marie Gerschefske, who is visiting from Dallas. Rose-Marie got a mini-workout by helping her friend with the crankshaft and lifting it up for a picture.

OK, as usual we had a blast with: Will We Find YOU in Florence, the Antiques Capital of Colorado. But the question is: Will you be the next people we find in Florence?

You might be shopping in Florence and someone might come up and ask you if you want to be found in Florence—and be on this blog. So far, not one person has refused! Everyone has been gracious and shared what they were buying and WHY.

Even if I don’t find YOU in Florence—you are welcome to submit a photo of yourself and/or your friends and family and share what YOU found in Florence. It can be an item, a meal or an experience. I am really not that fussy—as long as we are all having fun, sharing a memory or sharing a creative idea.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

What I FOUND In Florence: Steampunk & Punktique

I found this steampunk contraption today in Florence. It was sitting outside Spirit Riders on Main St. Most of know Florence is the official antiques capital of Colorado. But the quaint town is also becoming the unofficial steampunk capital of Colorado.

This is the way to trip out one's three-wheel bicycle. There is even a water faucet on the back of the bike. I assume that's to provide water for the steam power!

Today is the eve of the 88th annual Pioneer Days which features a huge slate of activities including the open air market, Junktique. New this year is Punktique, an open air steampunk market. It all starts Friday, September 18. Most events, including a steampunk ball, parade and much more--happen on Friday and Saturday. But there are a few events on Sunday.

The antiques stores in Florence mostly have always been packed with steampunk, neo-Victorian and industrial finds.

So even if one misses Pioneer Days, Junktique and Punktique--there are finds seven days a week.

And Florence is also getting ready for its 2nd annual Steampunk Festival in April. So there are opportunities galore to get your steampunk on!

What I FOUND In Florence, The Antiques Capital of Colorado

What have I found in Florence, Colorado? As many know, we recently started a blog feature—Will We Find YOU in Florence?

Florence is the antiques capital of Colorado. Recently some very brilliant people came up with a marketing plan for Florence. FIND IT IN FLORENCE. I have nothing to do with that campaign, but I do recognize brilliance when I see it.

I would like to say that I have a lightning-fast intellect and that when I heard about, FIND IT IN FLORENCE, I immediately thought of a feature: Will We Find YOU In Florence? I cannot say that. Actually it did occur to me within moments of hearing about the new marketing plan—but it was an idea brewing for over a year.

I started working in a few of Florence’s antiques shops about two years ago. And people tell stories. Stories about themselves. Stories about what the items they are buying. Stories about the feelings and memories the items they were buying or looking for invoked.

And sometimes they don’t tell the stories—but I can see there is a story there.

I didn’t have a blog when I started working in the shops and hearing these stories. I had a vague idea that if I was so fascinated by some of these stories and observations, that others might find it a bit interesting.

My only regret is that I didn’t get my camera and notepad out quite some time ago!

Here’s what I found in Florence. Interesting people. Interesting ideas. Interesting items.  Creativity, humor and so much more.

Here’s a story I missed a few months ago. Antiques shops often have a box of two of old photos, labeled: Instant Relatives.

Let me backtrack. I am not new to the antiques world. I sold online for over a decade. But I am new to the in-person antiques trade. I’ve had dealers and former shop owners (and current shop owners) tell me the market has changed radically. I can see that. Prices have dropped due to economic conditions and the online marketplaces.

But several dealers have told me the antiques trade has changed from a collectors market to a decorating market. I’ve also been told that antiques and collectibles are not that popular with most younger people—and that in a few generations all the real collectors will have passed on to the great Antiques Store In The Sky, that hardly anyone will be left to appreciate antiques.


Yes, now that I am in the stores, in person, and also based on years of online selling—I do see changes. Oak furniture—down in price and popularity. Fancy dishes and clear glass—hard to sell.  Most people want sturdy dishes or admit to using paper plates. Gasp!

I know dealers who lament the fact, that things they used to take to the scrap iron yard are now in hot demand. You know, rusty wheels, rakes, pitchforks, baskets, widgets, beat-up wash basins and enamelware. Straight  Victorian?  Used to be hot, now not so much. Steampunk and industrial with neo-Victorian undertones? Hot!

Linens? Doilies? Too fussy. People buy them—but for about $1 to $3 each.

I heard all this and expected to never see anyone in an antiques store under the age of 50.

And I just wish I would have captured on my camera and this blog—all the really young people who are into antiques and collectibles. They are just into them in  different ways and using them in ways that are new and fresh.

Remember the photos marked: Instant Relatives? A 20-something couple came in, rifled through the box and picked out a photo of a man with a wild beard. I mean, this beard had more character and patina than most antiques and could have housed a family of chipmunks.

I slightly snickered as I bagged the photo purchase. Then I really looked at the customer! He had a WILD beard that could have housed a modern family of chipmunks. Then I looked at his wife. She was wearing a T-shirt that read: I’M WITH BEARDO!

Ah, the story those two (and his beard) could have told. If I would have thought to ask them about it.
But my favorite story I missed putting on this blog were two little kids. They TOTALLY debunked the idea that when a few generations die off—there will be no one left to appreciate antiques.

These kids came into a Florence antiques shop with their mother. She bought a few small items. The children looked to be about age 10 and 12. The ten-year-old had flaming red hair. His brother, I assume, was dark-haired and serious. Serious about antiques!

He brought two vintage welding torches to the counter. One was mine, so I gave him a better price on it, without him asking. The other one had no price, so I asked him to show me where he found the torch. Occasionally a tag falls off an item, or a vendor forgets to price an item. But if we can find the booth, we can usually figure it out. The boy led me to the dark recesses of the back of the shop—the place where loading dollies, boxes, tools and other things vital to running a store are stored. He had to go up a loading dock and then climb down a few dark stairs to get to the area. He found the torch there.

I gently told him that was a storage area (not open to customers) and the item was not for sale, but applauded his persistence in attempting to find a torch.

I pointed out some other torches in the store that were for sale. “I have that one. And that one,” he said.

I eventually found him another one he didn’t have. It turns out the kid just bought a bunch of welding torches on Ebay and had the beginning of a huge collection and looked for them in every corner of every antiques and junk store he could get his mother to stop at.

I can’t imagine the day the kid gets his driver’s license!

So, his brother led me to the coin section of store and I helped him with his purchase of some wheat pennies. I asked the red-haired kid if he was a coin collector. He looked at me with a smile and said he just purchased a bag of 3,000 coins in search of some valuable ones—especially those wheat pennies he loved.

The kids finally came to the counter to make their purchases. The red-haired kid told his brother,” Sheesh! You and your torch collection!”

I whispered to” Red”, “I heard a rumor that there is a customer in the store who just purchased 3,000 coins, so I’d say that person was also quite the collector also.”

Red grinned. Just because he thought torches were a strange thing to collect, he got what I was teasing him about.

Yes, this is just a bit of what I’ve found in Florence. Kids crazy for collecting. Young people using antiques for humor. Creative people using antiques for projects that spark the imagination.

And now I hope to capture the stories and people behind some of these antiques’ purchases.

And I need your help. WILL WE FIND YOU IN FLORENCE? Florence is the antiques capital of Colorado and draws people from all over the state and neighboring states—but I can’t be everywhere at once, darnit!

If you found yourself in Florence and found something interesting (it can be art, junk, antiques, a good meal or whatever) take a picture of yourself. Or have a family member or friend take a picture of you. Just make sure there is something recognizable to Florence somewhere in the picture. Take a picture of yourself and/or your posse enjoying food, wearing jewelry you purchased here… And let us know at what shop or restaurant you found yourself in Florence. You can mention the price you paid—if you wish. And even more importantly we want you to mention what feeling it invoked. Did your purchase bring back a good memory? Are you a collector? Did your grandma lose some item she had as a young person—and you found one just like it? Are you buying the item as a gift? Did you accidentally break your significant others prized do-dad and just found a replacement?

Do you work at the country’s largest flea market, yet found yourself in Florence purchasing collectibles, like Genieva Grigsby of Canton, Texas? We recently featured Genieva on--Will We Find YOU in Florence and she's pictured below.

Do you have plans to turn one of the objects you found into a world-class art project? Did you find a big rusty wheel (as did a fellow I recently talked to) and plan on building your own pottery wheel with it? Did you find the perfect antique cupboard (as a woman in Florence did recently) because your family keeps messing up your mudroom with all their shoes and jackets? Did you find a hard-to-find milk bottle from the dairy your parents owned when you were just a baby? Did you find oil can from a refinery you lived by on the East Coast that is now out of business? Yes, there are all stories from real customers that found themselves in Florence, before I had the foresight to capture their stories and histories.

We want to know about you and the story behind the purchase!

Send us your pictures and a brief story. Don’t worry—I’ll write it up for you, if you don’t want to write it yourself. There is no charge on either end for being in: Will We Find YOU In Florence? This is all for fun and to share the people behind the purchases and why and how they ended up in Florence.

Have a shop or restaurant or other business in Florence?  It’s simple, ask they people if they want to be on a blog that shares stories about people in Florence and people finding themselves in Florence. Snap a picture. Ask them a few questions—their name, the town they are from and what was so fun or special about their experience or purchase. Send it to this blog—and within a few days, or weeks—depending on my schedule, it will likely appear.

We Found YOU In Florence: Genieva Grigsby of Canton, Texas

You will find the most interesting people shopping in Florence—the antiques capital of Colorado. 

This time we found Genieva Grigsby of Canton, Texas. We overheard her talking with friends about shopping for antiques and collectibles all the way in Florence.

Of course my ears perked up. Why was it so unusual for someone from out of town to be finding treasures in Florence?

“Have you ever heard of Canton, Texas?” Genieva asked me.

I admitted I had not.

I was in for a delightful education. It turns out Canton has a population of less than 5,000 people—yet on First Monday Trade Days—anywhere from 100,000 to 500,000 visitors flood the small town for what it purported to the country’s largest and oldest continuously operating flea market.

And Genieva works at the First Monday Trade Days, renting vendor spaces. “You can’t shop when you are working,” she laughed . Genieva has been working in the office at the flea market for about a decade.

The event hosts up to 6,000 vendors with a variety of merchandise ranging from antiques, collectibles, electronics and good old-fashioned junk.

So how did Genieva FIND Florence? She also has a home in Creede, Colorado. But friends from Pueblo accidentally discovered Florence years ago and could not wait to share Florence.

We found Genieva in Florence. And what did she find? Lots of things, besides a fun day with family and friends, and the thrill of the hunt. But she was particularly happy with this find.

She liked this vintage food chopper (found at Iron Gate Antique Mall for under $15) replete with a tomato graphic that matches her kitchen cabinets.

Most of us locally know that Florence has the largest amount of antiques stores in Colorado per capita—making it a paradise from shoppers all around the country, but it’s always fascinating to find out about other parts of the country.

Canton’s First Monday Trade Days started in the 1850s when the first Monday of the month was the time circuit judges made their rounds. Naturally the townspeople gathered for that and to catch up on town news and sell and trade farm and other items.

 The event eventually grew into the USA’s largest and oldest flea market that still retains its historical name, but now operates on Thursday through Sunday before the first Monday of every month. You can find out more by going to: or:
Will we find YOU in Florence, the antiques capital of Colorado? That's part of a new (an hopefully fun) feature on this blog. It's simple. There is so much to find in Florence, but we want to find YOU in Florence and see what YOU found in Florence. Even if we don't find you first, feel free to send us a selfie or picture of you and your Florence find. Simply include your name and where you are from, the item and what you plan to do with it. Try and get a Florence landmark or background in the picture, so we know you found it in Florence. And feel free to tell us how much you paid for it (if you want) and what store you purchased it from. Shop owners in Florence are also welcome to submit pictures (and a brief story) about who they found in Florence and have it appear on this blog. There is no charge on either end for this--it's all about fun and sharing.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Who Says Antiques Can't Be Fun? A Leg & A Ho In Florence--The Antiques Capital Of Colorado

Who says antiques can't be fun? Certainly not me.

There are a few people in Florence--the antiques capital of Colorado--who seem to have a warped sense of humor. If you read a previous blog post, you saw just a sampling of window displays in honor the 88th annual Pioneer Days, slated for Sept. 18 to 20.

One of the most amusing windows was spotted at Legends and Lace with its sporting ladies and a gentleman caller getting ready for, ahem, a night of romance.

Then we went to Iron Gate Antiques Mall and spotted a window with some rather corny signs it. I noted there was a rumor a few more signs might pop up in the window. And I wasn't lying.

If you don't believe the level of silliness going on in the antiques trade (in select parts of Florence) breeze by the Iron Gate and Legends and Lace to see for yourself.

Since we visited the Iron Gate window last week--this sign popped up. GET A LEG UP ON YOUR SHOPPING. Sigh! How original!

That's an old dental or medical table (for sale) and a leg (yes, also for sale). And getting a leg up on the shopping refers to Junktique and Punktique on Sept. 18 and 19. Most people know about Junktique--and open air market replete with fine antiques, collectibles and plain, old junk and other fun stuff.

But Punktique is NEW! It's also an open air market, and caters to those interested in steampunk items. Now, a few weeks ago I did a search on the word--PUNKTIQUE. It does not come up that much, except in terms of an alternative music genre. So, (and you heard it hear first) the PUNKTIQUE open air market for steampunkers (and all those with tastes leaning towards neo-Victorian, industrial and gothic) in Florence, MIGHT well be one of the first such events in the USA. I say USA--because steampunk is much more popular in the UK and Australia and is starting to come into its own in the USA more.

Now, won't that be exciting--to be at one of the first punktique markets ever?

Back to the window display. Some of those window decorators at Iron Gate could not resist this one.

Oh, my goodness! Travesty upon the English language! Imagine getting a real antique HOE and imagining the pioneers might have been thinking about farm implements when they came up with the slogan: Westward Ho! What kind of crazed antiques dealers do they have in Florence?

See you at Pioneer Days and Junktique and Punktique. You won't know who I am. I'll have my camera. But I'll be in hiding. Why? Because as you might have guessed--I am the butcher of the English language responsible for these signs.

AND I also might see you somewhere in Florence--the antiques capital of Colorado--when I pop out of nowhere and ask to take your picture for our new feature: Will we find YOU in Florence?

We Found YOU In Florence, Colorado: Frankie Nelson & A Pitchfork

Will we find YOU in Florence, the antiques capital of Colorado? That's part of a new (an hopefully fun) feature on this blog. It's simple. There is so much to find in Florence, but we want to find YOU in Florence and see what YOU found in Florence. Even if we don't find you first, feel free to send us a selfie or picture of you and your Florence find. Simply include your name and where you are from, the item and what you plan to do with it. Try and get a Florence landmark or background in the picture, so we know you found it in Florence. And feel free to tell us how much you paid for it (if you want) and what store you purchased it from.

This week we found FRANKIE NELSON OF CANON CITY in Florence--the antiques capital of Colorado!

This nice lady was minding her own business and shopping in one of her favorite places in Florence--The Iron Gate Antiques Mall at 109 W. Main St.--when I popped out and FOUND HER IN FLORENCE.

Mrs. Nelson found a variety of treasures in Florence--but her main find was.... What do you think it was? I'll give you a hint.

You guessed it! A pitchfork. I was going to ask Mrs. Nelson to recreate this American Gothic artwork with her pitchfork purchase. But Mrs. Nelson was way too cheerful a person to even come close to pretending to be dour for a pitchfork picture.

Here's the real Frankie Nelson with her Florence pitchfork.

Yes, the dealers at Iron Gate (and in most of friendly Florence) care about customer safety. Those are some wine corks on the pitchfork tines.

Mrs. Nelson is an antiques dealer herself--so she knows Florence is one of the best places to come for fabulous finds for her own home and yard.

What do you think she's going to do with this antique beauty? She's going to put some corn cobs on them and make a delicious, antiquey, primitive bird feeder!

She even offered to send me a picture of the finished project, so I can put in on the blog.  So, she's my type of person and antiques collector--because she EXACTLY understood what we are going after on this blog, without me even explaining!

Mrs. Nelson also showed me lots of pictures of some fantastic things she's done in her home landscaping with antique wagons, a green thumb and sheer creativity. So, I cannot wait to see how she works this pitchfork into her autumn decor.

Yes, we found YOU in Florence--the antiques capital of Colorado--Frankie Nelson. Thanks for being a creative inspiration and sharing your decorating ideas with us--and letting us FIND you and share in your enthusiasm for antiques,collectibles, decorating and creative living.

You want to be FOUND in Florence? You can either wait for me to pop out of nowhere with my camera and goofy look on my face, asking if you want to be on this blog---OR you can send us a picture of what you found in Florence. Please make sure there is a Florence landmark or background so we know you are indeed in Florence. Let us know where in Florence you found it--and even how much you paid for it, if you want. And let us know what you plan to do with it. And we LOVE pictures of how you put your fantastic Florence find to use in your home or yard--or who you plan to give it to as a gift.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Marijuana? The Million-Dollar Mistake? Find Out At The Florence Colorado Enquirer

Is not voting  recreational marijuana into Florence, Colorado-- the million-dollar mistake?

You can find that out, and a whole lot more at:

This blog post is in NO way a political endorsement. I do not know who Mike Vendetti is--beyond the fact I saw his road signs a few days ago. He is running for the city council position in Ward 3 in Florence. And his signs claim there has been, a million-dollar mistake.

I went to his website at: and then went to his Facebook page for The Florence Colorado Enquirer.

I'm semi-new to Florence, so I have little to no knowledge who is who in city politics. But I did find Vendetti's website and Facebook page interesting. His love for Florence shines through.

I've been around Florence long enough to know that the city appears to be well-run, but is operating on a tight budget, as are most small towns. I've lived in a small town like Florence in another state and covered local issues for a newspaper--so I know, from the inside, some of the challenges small towns face in attempting to preserve all the things we love about small towns, without bringing in all the things we don't appreciate about major metropolitan areas.

And I have been around Florence long enough to know that most everyone I have met is relatively new to Florence. Most of do not know the politcal or fiscal climate in Florence. I think most people would be surprised just how many "new" people there are here--most of us just absorbing the ambiance and slowly getting acclimated. I think most people would be surprised WHY people move to Florence. I've asked a couple of dozen people, why, because I was in a retail position to be around new people moving into town. Perhaps someday I will write a post about the whys, because many of the answers surprised me.

Vendetti brings up some good points about bringing a recreational marijuana store to Florence.

I've always been against marijuana for recreational purposes.Years ago, I was one of the state's delegates that voted yes on medical and no on recreational. In my opinion, it is a travesty to not let medical marijuana in. And a travesty that the federal government is dragging its heels on more research on medical marijuana.

I still don't like the idea of recreational marijuana. But since my delegate days--I have changed my mind. I don't like the "idea" of it--for me personally. But if it is in the best interest of town like Florence, I am open to seeing the political discussion go forward.

Go and read Vendetti's pages for yourself. So many things made sense. And several things need more facts/research presented, in my opinion.

The Florence Colorado Enquirer had lots of input from people from all over Fremont County. And I learned more about Fremont County, Florence and what people think about recreational marijuana and a multitude of other things--than I have learned from my few short years here.

I hate to admit this, since I am in the antiques trade, but I think Florence is at a fiscal crossroads.

A fiscal crossroad that has to be addressed if the city is going to be able to maintain the services and infrastructure.

When I moved here, I assumed Florence was gaining most of its tax base from the antiques and art galleries. I recently spoke to someone who told me the city gets less that three percent of its tax base from the antiques stores and art galleries. Whether that is true or not, I don't know.

I still have mixed feelings about recreational marijuana. But one thing jumped out at me on The Florence Colorado Enquirer Facebook page. Vendetti suggested the town really finds out what need and demand is here. He totally supports the antiques and arts scene here for the ambience and culture (as I do) but suggested people might want to see if the recreational marijuana store idea filled the bigger need for finances. And if the stronger demand was for antiques or recreational marijuana.

That comment made me recall something that I had forgotten about. I talk to and work with dozens of antique dealers in a variety of stores. I know what they make. They tell me without me asking. I tell them what I make.

And one of them once told me, "I've been in this business for years. I'm barely scraping by. What are we doing wrong? I think we are in the wrong business--and this town needs recreational marijuana stores."

I dismissed that idea, even though I got a kick out of the suggestion that a bunch of antiques dealers start a co-op and get into selling legal pot. I had replied to the dealer, "Well, you should hire me as a manager, because I detest the smell of pot and the whole thing (except medical marijuana) because you would be sure I'd never be tempted to filch any pot. Now, if we were thinking of starting an ice cream or candy store--I'd be tempted to sample a little of our wares."

It is rather sobering to think that I had forgotten about these conversations, and totally dismissed that Florence should consider recreational marijuana stores. And recreational marijuana would no doubt bring a tourist clientele to the area, that would probably stop in the antiques and art galleries and restaurants. I hate to admit it--but I think it's true.

Being relatively new the area, I was not aware that Florence had voted for recreational marijuana. I was not aware that the prisons haven't totally brought in the jobs. I wasn't aware that major industry won't come to Florence because we don't have that much skilled labor.

As I said, I learned more at Vendetti's website and Facebook page in less than an hour, than I did from living here. So, no matter where one comes down on the recreational marijuana issue, his pages are not only an eye-opener--but educational.

Again, this post is NOT a political endorsement or an endorsement of recreational marijuana in Florence. It IS an endorsement of using some of the research Vendetti and others have done to find out what people in Florence really need and want. And finding out what is best to preserve what most of us appreciate about Florence.

Who Says Antiques Can't Be Fun: Florence, Colorado

Who says antiques can't be fun? As most everyone knows, Florence--the antiques capital of Colorado is gearing up for the 88th Annual Pioneer Days, held Sept. 18 to 20. This year the event will have a bit of steampunk flair.

There will be a steampunk ball street dance and Punktique. Annually, bargain hunters descend on Florence for Junktique--a cavalcade of bargains, antiques and good old-fashioned junk. New this year is Punktique--and open air steampunk market held at the same time as Junktique.

There are already lots of signs in Florence's windows welcoming steampunkers.

And a few windows that prove: antiques can be fun.

This was taken at Legends and Lace. This dude is taking a bath and strumming a melody: Love Always, according to his sheet music.

Ah! Seems innocent enough. Let's "pan" over to the other side of the window.

Oh my! You can't see it very well in the picture, but that there fancy lady is holding a cigarette holder and some money in her hand. And there's a pile of money on the table. My goodness! That dude is getting ready for an evening with the sporting ladies. The window is quite the homage to racy ladies--and I love it.

Let's move down Florence's Main St. a little. Someone with a warped sense of humor was busy at the Iron Gate Antique Mall.

Looks innocuous enough. A bunch of grates hanging on the wall in the window. Yeah, it's a little steampunk. But you can't really see the sign in the right side of the picture. Some joker put up a sign that reads: Isn't This A "Grate" Wall? Honestly, I am appalled by that sign. When I find out who put it up there--I will tell them that antiques are a serious business and nothing to joke about.

What else is in the window at Iron Gate? Well, it's an homage to pioneers with a little steampunk thrown in.

Yes, someone had the audacity to dress a nice pioneer woman up, plunk a steampunk-inspired hat on her noggin and then give her a suitcase, a bear skull and a badminton racquet to fend off all the animals in the Old West (pictured in the background). She was placed in a Victorian-era baby buggy with a gizmo and light bulb-- to steampunk-power her buggy across the lone prairie.

At the top of this picture, one can see the wheels of her steampunk-powered buggy, which also has a big chain and anchor in the back. Why you ask? Just because.

There's some more taxidermied animals and a nice display of antique wheels. The same joker who put that "grate" wall sign up, decided to put a HOT WHEELS sign on that big rusty John Deere wheel.

There's a few more signs in the window. Rumor has it these window decorators were also going after that Burma Shave sign ambience. And rumor has it that a few more of those corny and appalling signs might appear in the window before Pioneer Days. I hear that one of the signs that might pop up is SO silly that people might gasp in shock.

All this nonsense really has to stop. People will start thinking antiques are fun. Wait, they are!

See you all at Pioneer Days, Junktique and Punktique. How will you know who I am? I'll be wearing a red rose. No, actually, I'll be wearing a taxidermied skunk with a sign around my neck that reads: SteamSkunk.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

We Found YOU In Florence: Patty & Fred Adkison & Blake Hansen

Will we find YOU in Florence, the antiques capital of Colorado? That's part of a new (an hopefully fun) feature on this blog. It's simple. There is so much to find in Florence, but we want to find YOU in Florence and see what YOU found in Florence. Congratulations to Patty and Fred Adkison of Canon City, Colorado. They were the first people we found in Florence and they were happy to share their Florence find with us. Even if we don't find you first, feel free to send us a selfie or picture of you and your Florence find. Simply include your name and where you are from, the item and what you plan to do with it. Try and get a Florence landmark or background in the picture, so we know you found it in Florence. And feel free to tell us how much you paid for it (if you want) and what store you purchased it from.

It was a family outing last weekend, when Patty and Fred Adkison, of Canon City, took their grandson, Blake Hansen, on an antiques junket to nearby Florence.

I have it on good authority that there was a little ice cream and a few hugs for Blake as he enjoyed the day with his grandparents, who happened to find exactly what they were looking for in Florence, the antiques capital of Colorado.

The Adkisons were visiting South Dakota and spotted many antique bed frames that some one had turned into outdoor benches. They snapped a lot of pictures. "We even brought a bed home from South Dakota," Patty said.

Of course, the Adkisons, knew the antiques capital of Colorado was just a few miles from their home and they thought they would see what they could find in Florence.

The Adkisons found one bed frame with rails (for $75) that Blake was eager to turn into a bench. According to Fred, bed rails aren't necessary in making the benches, though. Some angle iron works just fine.

Then they discovered a second bed frame in The Iron Gate Antique Mall (109 W. Main St.) pictured above. No bed rails--but the price was just $60. We loved both of the bed frames they purchased, but were particularly taken with this one due to the Art Deco style and well-preserved paint rendering of urns and flowers. Look above Blake's head, and you can spot some of the details.

The Adkisons promised to send a photo or two of the completed benches. We look forward to that. And if they do--of course, we'll put it on this blog, so you too can get inspired, not only by the great antiques in Florence, but by the creative energy people like the Adkisons are inspired by.

If we find YOU in Florence, and snap a picture of two of you and your finds (with your permission) you'll receive a little, bright green card with this blog address, so you can find the blog with your picture and story. And remember--if we don't find YOU first--feel free to contact us at this blog and we'll consider putting your picture and brief story online. There is no charge on either end for this. This is all free and just for fun!