Total Pageviews

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Confessions Of An Antiques Store Worker: That Cast Iron Is Going To Abu Dhabi?

Confessions of an antiques store worker? No, you won't find anything too spicy here. Just mildly amusing or heartwarming. But then, just about anything amuses me or makes my heart melt.

Here's the latest--Who Says Antiques Can't Be Fun?

Truly, I cannot imagine when someone is ringing up a purchase in a big-box store that they are told where the customer is taking their purchase or who it is for. That's the advantage of working in an antiques store in a small town--Florence, the antiques capital of Colorado.



A nice lady who just moved to Florence came in to purchase a cast iron griddle. She took some time deciding which one was just right. Then she flipped the griddle over and said, "This is rather ironic!"

The griddle was made in Florence. Florence, Alabama--but close enough.

I left her alone to decide and she came to cash register with her purchase. It wasn't the Florence one. She liked the patina and feel of the other one. For those who don't know the joys of cast iron--each one has its own personality.

"This is going to Abu Dhabi," she stated.

I had never thought about it before, but I imagine that the capital of the United Arab Emirates does not have a huge selection of vintage cast iron cookware made in the USA.

Of course, I would never be so bold as to ask why she needed a cast iron griddle in Abu Dhabi. OK, I would be that bold--but she told me before I asked. She will be spending two months there to welcome a new grandchild and her son's cast iron was sullied by a roommate in Abu Dhabi who didn't know that it is a travesty to soak cast iron in the sink.

Yes, antiques from Florence go all around the world. It's a toss up which is more interesting--the actual items being purchased or the stories the people have who are doing the purchasing. I think I'll go with the people and their stories.

Last month a young man came in ye olde antiques store. He was a handsome Japanese fellow who was dressed in nice athletic shoes and jeans and a shirt, but he was wearing a plaid bathrobe over his street clothes.

I'm on the edge of being as old as Methuselah, so I was not sure if this was some new hipster fashion in the USA--or in Japan. The only reason I bring it up--it comes up later in the story.

He dashed around the store (using sign language mostly) asking me to open all the cases that had vintage eyeglass in them. He tried them on. I said,"You are going to wear these?" He said, yes.

By the time we were on our fourth or fifth pair, I was pretty sure he couldn't wear all of them. He ran to the cash register and purchased four or five pairs. He barely spoke English--but I understood that he owned an antiques store in Japan. I asked if people in Japan liked American antiques. For some reason I could not imagine that they would--at least in large quantities. And especially turn-of-the century eyeglasses. He assured me they did.

He flipped out a few hundred dollar bills and indicated he did understand American money and would not know how much he was supposed to get back. So I tried to explain. He had come from Denver and was going back to Japan with all the eyeglasses the next day. I kept asking him how he found out about Florence, but his English was not good enough to understand.

A short time later another antiques dealer and friend came in the store and I told her a nice guy from Japan was buying up all our eyeglasses. "Was he wearing a plaid robe?" I said, yes. She told me he was at another store she was visiting, running through the store with his robe flapping, buying all the eyeglass he could find.

So, you never know what a day in the antiques capital of Florence will bring. Cast iron destined for Abu Dhabi or massive amounts of eyeglasses headed for Japan.

Florence is currently out of eyeglass mostly--but will be restocking soon. 

Confessions Of An Antiques Store Worker: Florence, Italy or Florence, Colorado?

I've worked a few places in my life. And they all have had their moments. But truly the most interesting jobs I've ever had is working at several antiques shops.

Confessions of an antiques store worker? No, you won't find anything too spicy here. Just mildly amusing or heartwarming. But then, just about anything amuses me or makes my heart melt.

Here's today's--Who Says Antiques Can't Be Fun?


My confessions come from working in Florence, the antiques capital of Colorado. No, I've never worked with either of the Keno brothers (pictured above), of Antiques Roadshow fame, but I did get to see them years ago in Denver at an Antiques Roadshow taping. And they are just as hyper and charming, jumping all around the furniture, in person as on TV.

Today I was working at ye olde antiques store and a father and daughter came in. He purchased a few old bottles and some Life magazines. He bought his daughter a nice, but inexpensive turquoise ring. She thanked him profusely.

I was warmed by it. Just observing a father and daughter out for a fun day was nice.

As I handed him his bag, he said," Today my wife is arriving in Florence, Italy. So when I talked to her I said, 'Well we are ALSO going to be in Florence today!'"

I chuckled. "Where are you all from?"

He said Colorado Springs, but he just had to come to Florence today--so he could feel a connection and make a little family joke and memory about them all being in Florence today, even though his wife was visiting their other daughter who was studying in Florence, Italy.

I said,"And that begs the question, which Florence is the better place to be today?"

He laughed, but I could tell he thought it was a tie, because each parent was sharing a special moment with their daughters in Florence, at almost the same moment.

Monday, November 23, 2015

SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY: Shop Florence or Be Square

Yeah, yeah--I guess I could be subtle and tell y'all to come to Florence the antiques capital of Colorado and shop like crazy in some subtle and marketeering way on Small Business Saturday--Nov. 28. Nah, I'm not going subtle. Enough of that.

I think I'll go the guilt trip way. Or perhaps the slightly humorous way. I don't know. I haven't made up my mind. I just write and I think. Or think as I write.

As you can tell, I usually don't think much before I write. I was thinking (which always gets me into trouble) that I should tell people that Florence is the antiques capital of Colorado and loaded, yes loaded, with antiques stores. Then I should tell them most of the stores are in charming historical buildings. And then, that the heartbeat of America is small businesses and supporting one's community. That's all true. But first people have to know certain small businesses are even out there.


No, no--this isn't a good reason to shop Small Business Saturday--even though it is TRUE that people do get more personalized help with annoying questions at small businesses.

Now, I don't consider ANY question anyone asks annoying. But today I did hear one that did annoy the heck out of me! NOT because a customer asked it, but because of what it implied.

Customer: Geez! Do you get any business here?

Me: (thinking) Why, yes! I am ringing up your order, even though it is small. But I reply: Well, I only work here a day or two a week. But some days, yes, and others not as much.

Customer: I'm not sure why you are even open on Mondays!

Me: Where are you all from?

She mentioned a state on the East Coast.

Me: Well, how did you end up here, in the antiques capital of Colorado from (blank)?

The customer yells to a relative," Did you know this was the antiques capital of Colorado?"

The relative answers, that she did not--even though she is building a home in another part of Colorado and her contractor told her she had to come to Florence.

And therein lies the problem!

Florence, Colorado is a rather unique town. It has more antiques stores per capita that anywhere else in Colorado. But it also has world-class art galleries, excellent eateries and gifts and quality handmade crafts and gold-mining supplies, beads, jewelry-making supplies, rocks and more.



Maybe if we hired this hunk, a few more people would realize that Florence is one of  the  most quintessential small locally-owned business towns in the universe.


Not recommended. Besides, Florence only has two liquor stores.


Ah, recommended! Keep calm. Mall shopping is fine sometimes, but being able to walk from store to store is a quaint village-type setting--much better.

So, really. Shop Florence on Small Business Saturday, Nov. 28. But better yet--shop anytime you want to find things you just won't find in big-box stores--all year-round in places like Florence.

But I really should let you in on a secret. Florence truly does have some fantastic antiques and collectibles. But the town also has:


Oh--yeah! Don't worry. This ain't a stuffy antiques town. We have taxidermy so cheap you'll wonder why you didn't get Uncle Fred a huge deer mount for under $50 before. You'll find stuff so funny and charming and unexpected, you will wonder why you didn't make the trip to Florence before.

Fremont County's Newest Newspaper: FREMONT COUNTY CRUSADER

Fremont County has a new newspaper--Fremont County Crusader.


The weekly newspaper is available at various locations throughout the county and also by subscription.

The Fremont County Crusader is an independent newspaper with a conservative and constitutional foundation. Besides covering conservative, constitutional and religious issues, the paper also covers a variety of local news, charitable events, art and cultural events and feature stories.

More information is available at: www.FremontCountyCrusader.com

Fremont County's Newest Treasure: ELEVATED Magazine

You are going to love this. I often talk about all the treasures in Fremont County, on this blog--and the newest treasure I stumbled upon is a delightful treat. Elevated Magazine just released its third issue (Dec. 2015 + Jan. 2016) and it is beautiful. And free!

You can find this stunning magazine, celebrating local merchants and artisans in the Royal Gorge region, at many locations in Canon City.

Look for this photo on the front cover.

                                                 Photo by Dawn Lincoln Photography

I found my copy of Elevated Magazine today at The Iron Gate Antique Mall in Florence. And I couldn't be more delighted. There is top-drawer photography, stories, ads and information celebrating what is special about this region.


I've seen magazines similar to this in Aspen, Vail and other areas across the country--but I've got to say that Elevated Magazine is so cool, enticing and well-done and I've not seen a better magazine of this type anywhere.

I'm predicting Elevated Magazine will be a huge hit not only with tourists, visitors and locals--but it will grow into all areas of Fremont County.

More information about Fremont County's newest treasure is at: www.elevatedmagazinecolorado.com or at its Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ElevatedMagazine/timeline

Sandy Dale & The Gnarlies Holiday Open House In Florence, Colorado

'Tis the season for a magical time. And what better time to journey into the magical world of Florence artist, Sandy Dale and The Gnarlies, as they invite one and all to a holiday open house at their studio, Friday, Dec. 4 from 5 to 8.m.


Sandy Dale's (and The Gnarlies') studio is located at 220-A W. Main St. in Florence. Yes, Florence, the antiques capital of Colorado.


Everyone is invited. There will be punch, cookies and perhaps a new addition or two of The Gnarlies.


This is a picture we took last spring at Sandy Dale's studio, right before Florence's first steampunk festival. But there will be new creations at the studio for the holiday open house.

Besides being able to visit with Sandy Dale and The Gnarlies, there will be a sneak peak at Dale's latest artistic adventure--Rat-A-Tat Bindery And Book Repair.

More information about artist Sandy Dale and The Gnarlies is available at their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TheGnarlies-148314498558258/timeline

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

B & B Pawn and Antiques: New Business In Florence--The Antiques Capital Of Colorado

Florence is the antiques capital of Colorado and last week the town's newest business--B & B Pawn and Antiques opened at 727 E. Main St.

B & B Pawn and Antiques opened last Friday and Sunday we stopped in to see what we could find. Yes, we found bargains!

Florence's newest business is located in a two-storey building that formerly housed a Mexican restaurant.

The bottom floor is dedicated to the pawn section and had a good selection of tools and those garage and household-type items. Down in the basement was the bargain room. We scooped up a few bargains down there. But what really interested us was the upstairs, which is where the antiques and collectibles are.

I predict B & B Pawn & Antiques will become a picker's paradise. Prices on furniture, lamps and more were so reasonable we could not resist snagging some more bargains.

We talked to co-owner Allen Berner who told us that firearms, more pawned items and antiques are on the way. But we found the place well-stocked, considering B & B had only been open three days when we arrived.

                                   Allen Berner, co-owner of B & B Pawn and Antiques

Berner said he and co-owner Jim Toothaker both enjoyed careers in law enforcement for about 20 years each and when deciding which new career path to take, they decided on pawn items and antiques. "We both like old stuff," he said.

Oh, yes. And we love old stuff too. But what we really liked were the prices. No high-faluting prices at B & B.

                                An old map upstairs at B & B depicting some of Florence's businesses


The name, B & B, according to Berner came from each partner's middle initials--so each would get equal billing.

B & B Pawn and Antiques is open seven days a week. Hours are: Monday through Friday--8 to 6, Saturdays--9 to 5 and Sundays, 11 to 4.

The Pour House Coffee Shop: Artist & Community Gathering In Florence, Colorado

I've been telling people for years that they are missing out if they don't live in Florence, Colorado--or at least visit it and enjoy. Why? Because for a town of just about 4,000 there is more going on than in most larger burgs. But it all boils down to world class. Around most every corner, there are world-class artists, antique dealers, a coffee roaster extraordinaire and some culinary delights that are wonderful.

But most importantly, there is a sense of community here. No, not a sense. There is community here.

This blog post, we'll focus on Kenny Paul, that coffee roaster extraordinaire and owner of The Pour House at 202 W. Main St. in Florence.

                                         KENNY PAUL at THE POUR HOUSE COFFEE SHOP

I've only been in Florence a few years, but even I know that the experience, ambience, food and coffee at The Pour House is worthy of a standing ovation.

What some don't know is that The Pour House has a gallery of artwork decorating most every corner of the vintage building. A visit to The Pour House isn't only a treat for the taste buds, it's a treat for the soul.

So imagine my delight when just a few hours ago I discovered that Kenny is hosting their first ever--Artist & Community Gathering at The Pour House, Nov. 12 from 6 to 8 p.m.

I ripped the last flyer, advertising the event, out of his hand. I often do that to people who are passing out flyers in the antiques district--and then I  post the information on this blog. Why? Because I have a great passion for all things local. Shop locally. Thrive locally. Enjoy locally!

                              THE POUR HOUSE COFFEE SHOP at 202 W. Main St., Florence, CO

No worries if this first-ever artist and community gathering comes with too short notice to attend. Kenny noted that this event will happen the second Thursday of every month from 6 to 8 p.m. It's a chance to talk to local artists that display their work at The Pour House, as well as get together as a community.

As if that wasn't enough--The Pour House will be offering complimentary wine from the Vino Salida Wine Cellars.

And really there is even more! Most of us know that besides the world-class coffee at The Pour House, there is also a tasty light menu and baked goods available. Even more! That Truck will be parked outside during the Artist & Community Gathering. will a full menu available. Additionally, That Truck will be at The Pour House every Tuesday from about 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. to give Florencians and anyone else fortunate enough to be traveling through our quaint town a chance to enjoy another local culinary experience.

 I haven't had a chance to check out That Truck yet. But I'm pretty sure that if it is a collaboration with The Pour House--it will be fantastic. You can be sure, I will be checking it out and going into my Fremont Foodie review mode in the near future. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, you can be assured readers will be getting an honest (but less than world-class review) from me, because I only came in third place when interviewing for a restaurant review job several years ago at a large Colorado newspaper and also annoyed the heck out of celebrity chef, Lidia Bastianich many years ago in Manhattan.

But don't take my word for it (even though you should). If you've been to The Pour House, you know this is one of Florence's treasures. And if you haven't--you will be delighted. Check out the reviews on Google and other sites for The Pour House. Nearly flawless! As with many things in Florence and Fremont County--it is worth the drive to experience what we are all fortunate enough to experience any time we desire.



More information about That Truck is available at: www.thattruck.com

And more information about the world-class coffee at The Pour House is available at: http://www.florencecoffeemerchants.org/


Sunday, November 8, 2015

Who Says Dogs Can't Be funny? Cute Halloween Dogs

I admit it. Sometimes we like to dress our pooches up for Halloween. They like it almost as much as we do.

Yes--it's a devil dog. He's finally expressing how he feels when a few months ago, I made him do his imitation of Donald Trump complete with a combover.


No comment, except: I thought you loved me!


My eyes tell the story: It's 1932 and I just spent a long day in the soup lines. Brother, can you spare a dime--or a Milkbone?


You dare dress me up as a hippie? What do you think this is--Woodstock. Dogs don't give the Bronx cheer--but this is my version of it. I stick my tongue out at you.


Arggh! I am not sure what this costume even is! I show my hot distaste for it by yelling.


I do believe this tiny, little sombrero makes my nose look bigger.



Maybe if I look at the floor and imagine a huge, hot meaty burrito--all of this Halloween nightmare will go away.


I feel like I am caught in a time warp. The Rocky Horror Show. Perhaps if I do a jump to the left, I can escape these humans.


Darn it. This is getting ridiculous. See that collie in the background. I'm going to telepathically send a message to the humans that he should be next. But the collie is really a big ninny when it comes to getting into costume. I sit here patiently and put up with it, while killing them softly with my eyes.


Heh! Heh! You should have ran when you had the chance silly Collie. And yes, that witch hat does make your nose look bigger too.





Humans. Sigh.


There was only one way to distract the humans from dressing us up. I donned my specs, sat in the easy chair and read them a story about how dogs love everything about being with humans (from eating their delicious food, sleeping in bed and going for car rides) EXCEPT putting on clothes.