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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Florence, Colorado: K.D. Elise Photography

Working in an antiques mall is about the funnest place to work. It's not a stuffy place with objects that meanings have long passed.

Regular blog readers know that once in awhile I like to jump from behind the counter at The Loralie Antique Mall (formerly The Iron Gate Antique Mall) in Florence, Colorado and ask people why they are buying a certain object and what they plan to do with it.

I truly LIKE antiques and collectibles. But what I LOVE is the true stories people have to tell me when they venture into the antiques mall.

This lovely woman was happy to tell me her plans for the pink enamel baby washtub she purchased at The Loralie Antique Mall at 109 W. Main St. in Florence--which is the antiques capital of Colorado.

She will be using it as a prop in her photography business. She specializes in newborn baby photography, but also takes fantastic pictures of toddlers and people of any age.

Here's just a sample of her work.

It doesn't get much cuter than this.

K.D. Elise Photography is based in Pueblo, but serves clients all over Colorado.

I suggest one and all check out the website: for all the great details on this talented lady.

And now we know some of the secrets of K.D. Elise Photography's smashing success: Incredible talent and knowing that taking the short drive to Florence to purchase antique props for all those adorable pictures is the way to go.

K.D. Elise Photography my be reached at 719-371-3770.

All stories about businesses highlighted on this blog are done TOTALLY free of charge. One purpose of this blog is to showcase talent and fun things to do, see and buy in southern Colorado. If you have a story you'd like to submit for possible inclusion on this blog, you may do so at:

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Florence, Colorado: Steampunk Shotgun Weddings

Just the other day I was sitting in the fair burg of Florence (antiques capital of Colorado and a most quirky, zippy and fun place) and thinking: Wouldn't it be nice if I could attend a shotgun wedding?

Actually I was not thinking that. I never thought I'd even type those words. But now it is possible.

As most regular blog readers know, I've dubbed Florence, the unofficial steampunk capital of Colorado. Why? Because I can. It's my blog and I can write anything I want.

Truly though, this town has one of the most fantastic and varied steampunk festivals anywhere.

Carriage rides, costume contests, games for the kids, arts, crafts, steampunkalicious cuisine and more.

BUT this year, there are new additions. Shotgun weddings. And marriage vow renewals--steampunk style of course.

This year the Escape In Time To Steampunk And Wine Festival is April 22 and 23.

It's never too early to start planning for that shotgun wedding or marriage vow renewal.

I wonder if there will be any Elvis impersonators, steampunk style, officiating. I can only hope...

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Florence, Colorado: Having Fun With Robert Redford

Can I be honest? Many of the townsfolk in Florence--the antiques capital of Colorado--are having way too much fun with the cast and crew of the movie, Our Souls At Night.

A few days ago, Robert Redford and Jane Fonda were filming most of the day (and into the night) on Main Street, by and in the Fremont Lanes bowling alley.

I got an insight into actually how hard the crew and cast work. The days and nights are long.

And that day I talked to so many Robert Redford fans, I lost track of them all.

Many of the fans used the antiques mall I work at to stage their "observations" of the stars.

And I got this weird feeling how it must feel to be a star. How it must feel to have literally millions of people around the world wondering how old you looked. How you walked. Talked. Acted. Moved. Felt.

Everyone wanting a little piece of you. And commenting to total strangers (like me) on the stars' movements.

Most of it was in good fun. But after a day of talking to and watching Robert Redford fans, I was chuckling. The next day at work, I was mentioning to a customer that my humble observations indicated that women were way more forthcoming in their admiration and "comments" about Redford.

Basically if a bunch of men came and asked me how old Fonda looked, or yelled across the street to her--men would be frowned upon.

Nobody asked me if Jane Fonda's years of fitness seemed to be paying off. Yes, it did to my eyes.

One male customer overheard me cheerfully observing that women were a bit naughty and over-the-top in their admiration and talk about Redford.

He came to counter and told me," If men were doing the same thing you said the Redford fans were doing, we'd be arrested," he noted cheerfully. I agreed with him, even though it was all in good fun.

I  saw firsthand the long hours these stars worked. And I began to wonder what it was like for them.

I didn't have to wonder long.

And I didn't have to wonder long how the stars would react if a Florence resident asked if they could have a picture.

I know the lady in the picture. She's a sweet lady who happens to live in a house in downtown Florence, but a bit aways from the filming. Her husband heard things going on in the alley and noticed Mr. Redford in the alley.

I've often wondered what it would be like to  find Robert Redford in your alley. Okay, I've never wondered that. But it amuses me.

The lady's husband attempted to get pictures, but Mr. Redford was out of camera range. So the husband asked if he could get a picture.

It turns out Mr. Redford was apparently using the alley to bypass the major thoroughfares in Florence, so as to not be noticed.

But it turns out Mr. Redford and a crew member were a class act and took time to take a picture. The lady's camera jammed and a crew member took the picture for them.

Just another day in Florence when Robert Redford shows up in your alley. What fun!

Florence's Main Street will be closed Monday, the 10th from about 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. for more filming. So once again the town will get to see the stars and crew at work.

In just my chance observations of the crew and stars from afar, the filming of the movie has brought a sense of fun and excitement to Florence. Word on the street is,most Florence residents are loving this and hope Colorado is the site for many more movies.

Florence, like I am sure many other small Colorado towns, have built-in advantages for movie production crews. Florence, being the antiques capital of Colorado, has dozens of stores full of things at good prices for the movie sets and props. Some of the crew members, most of them from other states, were also doing browsing and shopping for their own homes.

Until I witnessed it up close, I never realized how Florence is the perfect town for a crew to come in and purchase so many things for the movie, all on foot and within a few block radius. And since Florence is a small town, most shop workers know what is in their own stores as well as neighboring stores and can help crew members find the item that will set the mood for a scene.

The day I saw Mr. Redford from afar many times, working hard, I texted a friend and said,"Another boring day at work, watching Robert Redford so many times that I've lost count."

My friend texted back telling me that I HAD to get his autograph and tell him that she's loved him from the 1970s.

I'm the type of person that would NEVER ask a star for their autograph. Or a picture. And I have no way of getting to the stars, unless I happened to find one of them in my alley. And if I did spot one of them in my alley, I'd probably chuckle and leave them alone.

But I will attempt to get an autograph (through another co-worker) for my friend. There are rumors flying all over town. One was the Redford and Fonda will be going into all Florence's places of business to meet and greet and sign autographs on Monday. Another rumor was the meet and greet will take place on Tuesday at a yet undisclosed location and time.

  I like to make people happy. And I have a feeling these stars, even though they are tired from filming, understand that and make time to make people happy. Heck, in my opinion they already have made many people happy, even if the rumors of formal meet and greets aren't true.


Friday, October 7, 2016

Florence, Colorado: All The Single (And Married) Ladies Love Robert Redford

In a previous blog post, I mentioned that interest in Jane Fonda seemed a bit higher in Florence--the antiques capital of Colorado--than for Robert Redford.

Well, that changed today.

Filming for the Jane Fonda and Robert Redford movie, Our Souls At Night, was happening at Fremont Lanes today. I've never been inside the bowling alley, but I hear it's one of only a few six-lane historic venues left.

I happened to have a bird's eye view of the bowling alley most of the day. And then I spotted Robert Redford once. Then twice. I lost count at about six times.

Last week folks came in the antiques mall, where I work, and asked if I had seen Jane. No.

Ah, but today I was asked if I had seen Robert. Yes. From afar.

And the "lady" asking the question was nine years old. She was very wistful in asking, hinting and almost begging if she could see Robert. I told her I had no status, but perhaps if she asked one of the crew they might tell her when and how she could see him.

Then the truth came out. I asked,"Who is it who REALLY wants to see Robert?"

It was the girl's mother. Darn little charmer. She almost had me convinced.

The mother and her winsome daughter came back later and said the crew said there would be no contact or autographs until Oct. 11 when there would be a meet and greet. I wasn't able to find out what time or where, but I will update if and when I find out.

Another local antiques dealer and store worker was trolling the streets and got a picture of Robert, right before a car went by and almost ruined our pictures.

One time when Robert walked out of Fremont Lanes, a small group of middle-aged ladies screamed across the street,"Oh, Robert! Come over here!"

But mostly all the ladies, young and older, were quite dignified.

A few came in the antiques mall and wondered if Robert Redford was still handsome.

I can report that he is. I got just one distant picture, where you cannot tell. But a neighboring shop owner got a close-up picture of him that proves it. But that photo is stuck on my phone. I am not very adept with technical things, but will attempt to post it.

But here's my distant picture of the actor and storyteller whose popularity is at quite the fever pitch in Florence.

He's wearing a red plaid shirt and entering the bowling alley.

Another fan came by and said she wanted Robert to sign a horse book that she had of his.

And yes, I finally caught two glimpses of Jane Fonda around the bowling alley. She seemed very animated and engaged and it was a pleasure to even see these two professionals from afar working hard all day long while I attempted to keep their enthused fans happy.

Jane Fonda Robert Redford Movie Takes The Cake In Florence Colorado

As most know, the cast and crew of the Netflix film, Our Souls At Night, starring Jane Fonda and Robert Redford has been in Florence--the antiques capital of Colorado--filming.

And the town has transformed in more ways than one.

One of our burg's favorite shops, Antique Warehouse, at 110 E. Main St., which specializes in Western items and vintage lighting, was temporarily transformed into a bakery for the movie.

For days, I strolled by to admire a nice selection of "homemade" jams and jellies in the shop's window and the luscious fake cakes.

As far as I know, Antique Warehouse was open for business as usual, except during filming.

But today a woman came into the antiques mall I work at and asked where the store was that specialized in horse tack. I told her it was now a "bakery."

She thought she was going "crazy" and was laughing and relieved when I told her the store was still what it used to be, but looked a bit different due to movie magic.

Right on cue almost, I snapped this pictures of some crew members taking the cake. Well, taking the cakes down the street. Seems like the Antique Warehouse is back to normal. But my mouth was watering every time I skipped by, thinking of sugar highs and movie magic.

That sign you see in the cake picture? That's pointing to The Loralie Antique Mall at 109 W. Main St.
There's quite a bit of magic going on there, but that's for another blog post...

Local Florence,Colorado Celebrities To Be In Jane Fonda, Robert Redford Movie

I just got word that two of our local "celebrities" Barry and Barb Brierley will be in the Jane Fonda and Robert Redford movie, Our Souls At Night, currently being filmed in Florence--the antiques capital of Colorado.
                                                      BARB and BARRY BRIERLEY

Barb just received confirmation, she and her husband will be extras in a funeral scene, being filmed next week at the Bell Tower Cultural Center.

Barb is the founder of Florence's annual Steampunk & Wine fundraiser festival, as well as co-owner of Spirit Riders Western Emporium at 111 W. Main St.

Barry is a well-known author and artist. His specialty is Native American and Western novels, backed by meticulous research. He also does the cover art for his books.

And yes, Barry is a Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid fan.

He's the author of Yesterday's Bandit, about Butch.

It's no coincidence that Barb and Barry are Robert Redford fans, since Redford starred in Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid. Barry has even painted a mural of Butch and Sundance at a historical church (now an inn) they own--and they are hoping they can get Redford's autograph on the mural.

Whether they get that autograph, we won't know for awhile. But the Brierleys are excited to be in the movie.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Have I Seen Jane Fonda In Florence, Colorado?

I work in an antiques mall in Florence, the antiques capital of Colorado.

That work is quite a departure from some of my previous work as a small-town newspaper reporter; and later as a freelance writer and online merchant, working from the anonymity of my home.

But, alas, even though at my core I am shy, I have found the work gives me the opportunity to experience what makes me tick. You see, I am all about the story. The story of people's lives. What makes THEM tick. How they think. Feel. Live. Love.

And oddly enough, being in an antiques mall, gives me the privilege of hearing how people feel about politics, antiques, memories, family and life in general.

I've likened the experience to what it must have felt like, sitting around an old pickle barrel in a general store, playing checkers and catching up on real life.

The other day someone came into the store and yelled,"Have you seen Jane Fonda?"

No. I had not.

But in a way I HAVE seen her.

For those who don't know, much of the filming for the Netflix movie, based on the book, Our Souls At Night, is being shot in Florence.

For weeks, I saw the books, that one of the mall's vendors brought in for sale, fly off the shelves. Our Souls At Night, by Colorado native, the late Kent Haruf, sold so quickly, I got no chance to purchase a copy. There seemed to be more interest in the Jane Fonda-related books for sale. Not that people don't love Robert Redford though.

People came in the store and attempted to start lively discussions about Fonda's past, which as I've mentioned was slightly before my time, as I was young during the Vietnam-war era.

I basically ignored that controversy, while remaining empathetic to those with strong feelings.

Then I started getting glimpses of Jane Fonda, not in person, but by the people who are working on the movie. Or knew the author of Our Souls At Night, or who know the widow of the author.

Many of the antique shop workers and store owners, got to know many of the people working on the movie on a first name basis. And many of the movie people got to know the workers and owners by name and character. Long story, short: We were all having a great time helping them find antiques and collectibles and "props" for the movie. Some of the items were being purchased and some rented. And the movie pros seemed to be having a good time, because frankly, we have some pretty colorful characters and fun people in the antiques trade here in Florence.

The level of professionalism was high. And the level of gratitude on both ends, high.

I got to talking to one movie professional about how finding these "set"items was not just a job, but a sense of satisfaction.

Though it was not spoken in direct words, I understood that these people working around the stars are trying to tell a story. An important story. And even an inanimate object has to be chosen with care, thought and feeling.

I had no idea how much went into the behind-the-scenes work.

I started to learn the difference between the "set" people and "prop" people. I watched the carpenters and electricians and their body language. This is more than a job to them. They are telling a story. The word, satisfaction, kept coming up, not only from one movie pros lips, but even through body language of other movie pros I saw working from a distance.

Yesterday a movie pro came into the shop for items for the movie. By some "miracle" I was able to find the items within minutes, that were the right size and fit into the story. I won't say what the items were, but it was odd, because one of the items (unknown to me and the movie professional) until it reached checkout, was that the item was marked, HOLT.

Neither of us knew there was even a Holt pottery company. That won't show in the movie. But it was an odd sign--because Holt is the name of the fictional Colorado town, noted in the movie and book.

I commented to the movie pro, that I was impressed with all my dealings with the movie pros. Sweet and professional, were the words I used.

I was told that it started at the top and who the stars hired and wanted to surround themselves with. Basically the stars were sweet and caring people with loyalty and integrity.

We got to talking about some of the projects the movie pro had worked on over the years. Many of them ones I had seen and enjoyed over the decades.

It was a slightly emotional conversation, because I was mentioning items and story lines in one current production that had touched me--made me laugh or cry or experience strong emotions.

And the movie pro, well that was the whole point, with the work and the satisfaction behind the work. Behind-the-scenes, each item is chosen with such care and excruciating detail to evoke emotions and get feedback.

And it all starts at the top.

We had a great conversation--me being allowed to see what makes stories and people tick, for just a brief moment. I'll never look at movies, TV or even the stars like Jane Fonda and Robert Redford the same.

In this conversation, which was genuine, heartfelt and spontaneous on both sides--I was asked to NOT get online and say anything about the star, even though it was ALL wonderful and almost brought me to tears.

The movie pro did NOT know I live for seeing what makes people tick and the STORY. I told the person, I did have a blog, but would not reveal anything with personal details. The person had NO clue I had a blog. the person just saw another person who got intrigued, not by the stars, but by the story and satisfaction of contributing to the story of all of our lives.

So, I have included NO personal details of our conversation or anything specific about the people at the top.

So, no I have NOT seen Jane Fonda. But in a way, I have seen her, because I've seen the people around her that don't consider their jobs, just jobs, but something more to do with the soul, the human experience and telling the story.

Today I was driving downtown Florence (on my way to the book club) and saw filming was going on. Many people were on the streets, apparently hoping to get a glimpse of the stars. I was on my way to a book club meeting, where the attendees, of course, noticed the slight traffic snarl and onlookers.

Oddly enough, most of the "bookies" were more interested in the STORY of, Our Souls At Night, and not so much the fanfare, even though we couldn't help but be intrigued.

On my way back from the meeting, I had a chance to pull over and possibly catch a glimpse of the filming and stars. I chose to come home instead.

I've already had a glimpse into the soul of the story and how seriously everyone takes telling that story. I've gotten a glimpse, that most "stars" become stars because of their commitments to the story and making sure they are surrounded by people with the same commitment. Through several conversations over several weeks time with movie pros, the picture (pun intended) became clear. People like Jane Fonda and Robert Redford don't have relevant careers that last decades and make an indelible mark on audiences without a commitment to the story that boggles the mind without finding people that share the same vision.

Yes, in a way, Florence, had become a bit of a microcosm to observe the movie pros, with almost a whole town watching and interacting. And it's all been good. And it's all been a learning experience. And it's been a look into the literal soul of telling the story.

 And that is good enough for me. Because I do believe I got a glimpse of the stars and experienced more than if I would have just "seen" them.

Is Florence One Of The Most Interesting Towns In Colorado?


Florence, the antiques capital of Colorado has been so interesting lately that I've had nary an extra second to post anything.

That will change soon. And I'll have some insights into many of the exciting things going on in our small burg.

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Florence,CO: 89th Annual Pioneer Day--Junktique, Parade, Hollywood & more

You know you want it. You know you need it. Small-town America at its best and a festival that brings out the best in people.

On September 16, 17 and 18, Florence--the antiques capital of Colorado will celebrate the 89th annual Pioneer Day.

Alright, there is so much packed into these three days, that it's near impossible to envision it all.

So, I'll just highlight some of the fun and frolic planned for all ages.

On Friday and Saturday, many vendors of fine antiques and good old fashioned junk come into town and treat everyone to an open-air shopping experience.

Of course, there is a parade, a craft fair, music, delicious food and libations, a street dance, coal car races, a flyover and a tractor pull.

Um, did I mention the hoagie eating contest? No, I did not. My mouth was too full practicing for the event.

Did I mention there will be six former Denver Broncos in town? No, I did not, because I was too busy daydreaming about all the fans that will be welcoming them.

Did I mention that this year the production crew for a Jane Fonda and Robert Redford movie will be in town during the Pioneer Day parade?  No, I did not, because I was too busy envisioning all the thousands of people that will be in town not only to enjoy one of the best parades in Colorado, but also might be captured in the background during filming.

Shoot! There's more exciting things going on in Florence lately than Colorado has spectacular mountains.

And you can find out more about Pioneer Day at its Facebook page:

Will I be on the streets hoping to get into the parade filming for the Netflix movie, Our Souls At Night?

No, I'll be running my hoagie-eating body around an antiques mall all three days selling beverages and wonderful antiques to all the people fortunate enough to be in Florence during the best little festival ever.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Florence, Colorado: Jane Fonda & Robert Redford & Some Feisty People

Oh my! I've lived in Colorado for many decades and besides the scenery, the people are often what make this place so special.

Recently when I heard that Florence, Colorado was chosen as the town to film the Netflix movie, Our Souls At Night, starring Jane Fonda and Robert Redford--I was pleasantly surprised. I can't deny that Fonda and Redford are great actors. And I am a fan of the late Kent Haruf, the Colorado author of the book, the movie is based on.

But there are some feisty people out there in my beloved Colorado.

My first clue was when I was driving to my bank in Florence and I saw someone had gotten some white shoe polish and written, "Go Home Hanoi Jane" on their SUV. My first thought was,"Heck, Fremont County is pretty feisty. I had no idea."

I admit the Hanoi Jane incidents were a bit before my time. I was alive then, but just graduating from high school when the Vietnam War was totally over. So, I had to look it up online last week.

I like to balance facts and see both sides. What Fonda did seemed a bit incomprehensible to me. But I saw where she made public apologies. People have long memories though.

I  told a coworker about the, Go Home Hanoi Jane SUV, and her comment was,"Already?"

My coworker already has a section in ye olde antiques store devoted to Robert Redford and Jane Fonda and is also planning on offering copies of Our Souls At Night for sale. So, I had no idea she also had strong feelings about the subject.

She said her brother was in the Vietnam War and Fonda had spread some information that put him and his fellow soldiers in danger. She said she would have been so angry if he had died because of that. Of course. She said her brother has never forgotten.

But she had the attitude that this is the here and now, and she's preparing for an event that will showcase Florence to the whole world.

That's my attitude too. But I empathize with how people feel.

I had no idea how many people had direct or indirect experience with Jane Fonda's activities.

And today the news hit the major local media outlets that there was a casting call for extras for the movie. And the comment boards were lighting up. People indeed have long memories.

I won't recount any of the Hanoi Jane comments. Even though I have my political opinions, I won't recount all the negative comments about liberals.

But I will recount this one found on a Colorado media comment section: "The filming will take place in Florence. She's 78, he's 80. The title of the movie is "Our Souls at Night," not "Two Leathery Old People Try to Breathe at High Altitude," as originally proposed.

Oh my! Such feisty Colorado folks!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Florence,Colorado: World-known Textile Designer Setting Up Shop

People who suggest that much doesn't go on in a small town, aren't familiar with Florence, Colorado.

Sure, we are a small town of just about 4,000. We're a little off the beaten track, but people from all over the world somehow find our small burg.

Personally, I can't keep up with all the changes in Florence.

But here's sneak preview of one exciting change.

I've only been in Florence four years, but after I started to get to know the town, county and people, I often commented and thought, that there are more talented and avant garde folks in Fremont County per square mile than just about any other place I've lived. And I've lived on the West and East coasts and many points in between.

We have world-class artists, authors, craftspeople, culinary masters, antique dealers and more.

And now Florence is proud to welcome a world-known textile designer. I won't give any more details right now and wait for the official announcement. But let's just say, that people are already coming in ye olde antiques shop with great excitement, anticipating the design studio and retail space that will be coming soon.

I had the pleasure of meeting the designer before I knew the Florence plans and the stellar career. And it was a pleasure. And fans and admirers are already coming in, beyond excited that Florence was chosen as the artist's new venue.

We'll keep you updated on that new change and some other fun changes that are in the works for Florence--the antiques capital of Colorado.

Florence, Colorado: Jane Fonda Robert Redford Production Crew In Town Today

The production crew for the Jane Fonda and Robert Redford movie to be filmed in Florence, Colorado where in town today.

Now, I am happy to say, that even though I had little clue I would meet any of the crew, that I did conduct myself as would be befitting  a ye olde antiques shop worker.

I was minding my own business. You know, answering phone calls. Greeting customers. Ringing up sales. Having a great time as I usually do being surrounded by happy customers and browsers and lots of cool antiques.

One of my antiques buddies, who also has a small rental space in ye olde antiques shop came zipping in to tell me that the production crew was a few doors down in another shop.

"Cool," I replied.

"Yeah!" he enthused," When I heard what they were doing in there, I went up and asked if I could be an extra."

"You didn't!?"

"I did!"

"And what did they say?"

"They looked at me like I was crazy."

"OK, what did they really say?"

"They said that wasn't their area."

Ah, the hopes of another antiques dealer's dreams of 15 seconds of fame--squashed.

I did read in a few newspaper reports that it would be announced when and if there were opportunities for extras. Extras, not stalkers. LOL!

My antiques buddy is not a stalker, but they probably didn't know that.

For those of you who don't know, Florence has been chosen for filming of a Netflix movie based on Kent Haruf's novel, Our Souls At Night. The late Haruf was a Colorado resident.

Jane Fonda and Robert Redford will be in town sometime in September. They are wonderful actors. And they seem like lovely people. I wonder if they are ready for Florence, though.

                                 JANE FONDA & ROBERT REDFORD: Ready For Florence, Colorado?

Shortly after my stalker buddy, I mean my antiques friend, left--several members of the production crew came in ye olde antiques store. I could immediately tell they were interested in vintage items, not extras, for the movie. That's why they occasionally let me work in ye olde antiques store, because I can usually discern what people want.

They were looking to rent some items for filming, so I put them in touch with the owner of the items.

Apparently filming will be starting around Sept. 12, but no firm shooting schedule is set right now.

Even though the items the crew was inquiring about renting, were not my items, I recalled that many years ago, I sold many items to a set decorator for Drew Barrymore's film, Riding In The Car With Boys.

I sold the items via Ebay. The items were to go in a scene of a vintage store. I still have the receipt.

 I was excited to see my items in the movie. Of course, I rushed to see the movie and see my handpicked items that some set decorator loved.


But it was still exciting.

 And I hope I get to see the items I work around in Florence,  actually in a movie. Please, don't cut that scene. LOL!

Florence, Colorado: Will Anyone Buy An Entire House Of Antiques?

Florence, Colorado is the official antiques capital of Colorado.

Most every time I work at ye olde antiques store I either get a few phone calls or in-person visits from people wanting to sell a few antiques.

Today I got a call from a professional "downsizer" who was helping an elderly client, well, downsize.

She was calling from Manitou Springs (about 35 minutes from Florence) which borders on Colorado Springs.

The downsizer told me there wasn't much of a market in Colorado Springs, which is about 100 times the size of Florence.

I thought about that for a moment. It's true Colorado Springs has many very nice antiques malls. But malls are usually made up of numerous dealers with rather small spaces. They simply, often, don't have the room or resources to buy an entire houseful of antiques.

And this lady was offering the potential for someone to buy the entire houseful of mint-condition European antiques.

I could tell the downsizer wasn't exactly sure if she was calling the right town. She was.

She wasn't sure anyone would be able to handle so many big pieces. I told her that Florence had the advantage of having several shop owners who are sole proprietors and have large amounts of floor space and storage facilities.

I also told her that a few of the stores have large shop trucks that can handle moving large pieces or entire households.

Let me assure you, Florence is the right town to call when you want to sell or buy antiques.

If you want a few insights (totally my opinions) about selling antiques and collectibles, you can read a previous blog post at:

Now, I don't give names of which stores of who buys what on this blog--but tips on how to find out are in that other blog post.

First, it helps to know who specializes in what. And when you call most any shop in Florence, or the Chamber of Commerce or any related business, they will generally know and steer you in the right direction.

There is a spirit of cooperation in Florence, and if someone isn't interested in an entire household or a certain speciality, they often know who is--and will make sure you connect with the right person.

Florence Colorado: Start Spreading The News

Let's face reality. Most small towns in Colorado (or anywhere for that matter) don't have big advertising budgets.

Florence is the official antiques capital of Colorado. True. But how many people really know that?

What I do know is that visitors to Florence are often the ones who attempt to spread the news far and wide about what exactly is in Florence.

Today a regular visitor to Florence stopped by ye olde antiques shop and told me she took a nice pile of brochures to her hometown of Colorado Springs. Now I won't mention if she took it to the Chamber of Commerce or the Visitor's Bureau or a similar organization. I know. But around here we don't kiss and tell. We just kiss.

All this lady hoped to do was spread the word about Florence. She has no connections to Florence other than she loves to visit regularly from her home in the Springs, about half an hour's drive away.

She was told that unless she was a member of the organization, she would be unable to leave any brochures.

This enthusiastic Florence booster was undeterred and told two volunteers at unnamed organization that she'd leave them some brochures for their own use. She then asked them if they knew what was in Florence. No, neither of them knew.

Of course, my jaw dropped. I lived in the Springs for over 20 years and knew about Florence many moons ago by virtue of hopping in my car and exploring--without reading an ad or brochure or word of mouth.


So, thanks to the customer today, who told me her story about spreading the news of Florence, Colorado.

And don't you dare tell me you haven't heard of Florence, Colorado. Either read the rest of the blog for just a glimpse into the town. Or go to the Florence Chamber of Commerce page. Or Google Florence. You'll be surprised that a town of under 4,000 has so much going on.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Jane Fonda & Robert Redford Trotting To Florence Colorado

Jane Fonda and Robert Redford  are coming to Florence. Florence Colorado. Not Italy.

I obviously have a modest blog that focuses primarily on our fair burg. And you'd think I'd be among the first to know. Nope. I just found out today.

My first reaction when I was told was, that it was hilarious because on the days they are scheduled to be here, I will be working at ye olde antiques shop on Florence's Main Street. And a few of my of my co-workers will be out of town on long-ago scheduled vacations, leaving me and another co-worker to take care of business.

I called my co-worker to tell her the news and she was like, "Yeah."

I was like: "Don't you think there will be 50,000 or so extra people in town gawking and we'll be a bit overwhelmed?"

She didn't seem to care on way or the other. "I really don't care. I'm not the kind of person who cares if Elvis is in the building," she said.

Well, I wasn't worried about Elvis or even Jane and Robert. I was slightly concerned that with crowds of extra folks, we'd be running our geriatric feet off trying to sell beverages, antiques and collectibles.

For those of you who don't live in Florence, there are several festivals and happenings of note. But the biggest is Pioneer Days, complete with a parade and Junktique, an open-air market. Pioneer Days, Sept. 17 to 19 this year, usually fills the town to capacity even without a few movie stars in the mix.

Jane and Robert, reportedly will start filming during Pioneer Days and will be either in the parade or filming against the backdrop of it. Other scenes will also be shot in Florence.

They will be filming the eagerly-awaited Netflix film, Our Souls At Night, by the late Kent Haruf, a superb Colorado author.

Florence will be the fictional town of Holt, Colorado as depicted in the novel.

Florence apparently was chosen because of its small-town charm.

I've only been living in Florence for four years, but I can attest to its charm. Not just its outdoor art and architecture, but the charm of its people.

I do believe the producers of, Our Souls At Night, have chosen wisely. And I'll be watching from the antiques shop to see the reception the stars get. And I bet it will be very similar to the welcome that everyone gets in Florence--small-town friendliness at its best.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Confessions Of An Antiques Store Worker: Florence, Colorado

It's time to get out the figurative checkers and pickle barrel and feel the pulse of the town by working in ye olde antiques store in Florence, Colorado.

For those who don't know, Florence is the official antiques capital of Colorado and a burg of about 4,000 souls. We are off the beaten track, close to Highway 50, but not on it. We are accessible by Highways 67 and 115 and are over 20 miles from I-25. But people from all over the country and world, sometimes, manage to find the town. They don't come in droves usually, but at fast-enough clip to keep life and business interesting.

We moved here just a few years ago. We noticed real estate prices were way cheaper than Denver or Colorado Springs, where we owned homes. But that was to be expected since we are semi-isolated and the job market in Fremont County is decent, but nothing like the major metro areas along the Front Range.

We've had friends move here from a bigger Colorado city semi-recently and in helping them search online we noticed the real estate prices moving up.  We could not figure out why though. There have been no new major employers in the county. The economy here is decent with the rebuilding of the Royal Gorge Park (about 20 miles from Florence) but the economy is not exactly robust in Florence. Decent, but not robust.

We have friends who know a top real estate agent who sells in El Paso and Fremont counties and the agent reported the inventory is low in Fremont County and prices are rising.

Why? There was even a minor newspaper story about it, quoting local real estate agents noticing this and an influx of people, but the agents couldn't nail down exactly why  in order to establish a definitive pattern.

Well, all you have to do is hang out in ye olde antiques store to find out a reasonable theory.

A person came in the shop and knows a real estate agent who has been flooded with people moving in from a certain section of Colorado. I won't mention which section, since it's not my intent to give any area a bad rap.

I asked why people were flooding into Florence and buying houses when the job market here is what one would expect in a small town with few chain stores and very little industry except the prisons and small agricultural and related businesses.

The person replied that the area they are escaping from has went to pot--literally no pun intended. The illegal part of it. Illegal grows. And generally not from local people. The person said Cubans are often the ones bringing the illegal marijuana grows in.

I generally don't believe everything I hear. But this is the third time I have heard that. I heard it from an electrician. I had never thought of it before, but electricians and plumbers, etc. are generally all over, doing jobs and seeing what it happening in the real world.

And this area, folks are apparently escaping to Florence from, also has one of the highest per capita murder rates in the country.

And I know drugs (not marijuana only) are a problem in that Colorado town. I was in the town in question, actually buying antiques and saw it for myself. A friend had remembered from years back that she knew a neighborhood that had several antiques and junk stores all in a row. I was not familiar with the town much or the area. But we could only find one store that she vaguely remembered from years back.

I asked the store worker where all the other stores where, my friend remembered. She said that was years ago and the drugs were so bad that all the shop owners became scared and moved or went out of business.

I asked the obvious question: Where are the police?

"What police? There aren't enough police in this town," she replied.

As we left the store with our purchases, we were approached by a person who looked like a drug addict who insisted on helping us load our vehicle despite our saying, no thanks. He insisted and I gave him the few dollars I knew he wanted and so he would leave us alone, which he did.

Not a horrible experience, since the guy was respectful. But not a fun shopping experience that would draw most people to a town or neighborhood. And my and my friend are small town at heart, but perhaps are a bit more streetwise than some people since we've lived in some challenging areas all across the country.

I was told by the person who came into the shop I work in Florence, that people are coming in droves from this certain town, overtaken in part by drugs and also another town in Colorado that isn't quite as drug conflicted, but getting there.

At least now we know why real estate prices are rising in Florence and why we do run into so many transplants. And I understand. We all want small town America. We all want those conveniences and culture of the bigger cities, but we also want that small town security where we know our neighbors and can live relatively crime-free because the town is small enough so we can see what is going on.

Not that long ago, as we were moving here, and I was noticing the ridiculously low prices on nice homes in Fremont County, I asked our real estate agent why it was so. I was almost like a kid in a candy shop, finally able to afford a house I could never dream of in most other Colorado towns.

He told me that most people (usually employed by the prisons) chose to commute to Florence and Fremont County from larger towns, so there were plenty of houses available here. I asked why.

"They want the "lifestyle" in those larger towns and they don't want the lifestyle here," he said.

And now a few short years later, many people don't want the lifestyle in those same cities and are driving up the prices to get the lifestyle here.

Confessions Of An Antiques Store Worker: We All Need A Hug

Working in an antiques store is kind of like sitting in an old general store with a pickle barrel and  checkers. That's a good thing. It's  like feeling the pulse of a town.

I find out people's stories. And that's what I love. Antiques are about stories. But to me it's just a vehicle to find out about what makes people tick. Tick. Tock. Like a vintage clock, chiming a comforting tone.

Usually the stories are upbeat. Sometimes controversial. And sometimes INCREDIBLY sad and touching.

Let me tell you about America. I can tell you about it, without leaving ye olde antiques store.

I rarely mention names on this blog (unless I get permission) and all the observations are true, but for obvious reasons I don't include all details so as not to intrude on people's deepest feelings.

Let me tell you about America. At least in my small town of Florence, Colorado.

I rang up a purchase for a nice gentleman. Another antiques dealer had stopped in to check out their booth. The gentleman asked if we had heard about a tragic story in the news that involved the death of a young person. We said yes. He said that was his child.

Tears immediately came to me, unasked. I wiped them away before anyone noticed. Then I noticed the other dealer with tears.

I am a shy person by nature, but leaned across the counter and gave the gentleman a hug. He hugged me back.

I told him I had read the obituary and also watched the news and told him something I remembered about his child, even though I never met his child. His eyes watered.

The other dealer told him that he had no idea how many people heard or read about his child and were praying for him daily, even though the death has faded from the news. The dealer went on to encourage him in every area of his dark journey.

In the midst of his grief and appreciation that two strangers "remembered" his child, he mentioned he was in the antiques store buying an item for his brother as a gift.

Let me tell you about small-town America. It's not different than anywhere else in America. There are good people everywhere. It's just easier to notice them in a small town. It's just easier to find a person with incredible courage that is out doing things for others even after losing a child. It's just easier to "remember" when someone had a tragedy. And it's easier in the slower pace to take time to share that human touch.

The gentleman started to leave. I wanted to hug him again so much--but thought I should not, since the first hug I gave him was spontaneous.

As he was leaving he looked at me and said, "May I have another hug? My child was all about hugging."

He did not have to ask twice.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Confession Of An Antiques Store Worker: Going Off The Grid

I'm curious. I can't help asking people what they are going to do with the things they buy at ye olde antiques mall where I occasionally work.

See this pile of tools. It's just a fraction of what they were purchasing.

Tool collectors? Nope. I've noticed a trend in antiques and collectibles.

Recently another person that used to be affiliated with an antiques shop told me that the younger generation, of which she was part of, was more into designing with antiques. They weren't really collectors.

That is partially true. And I've read plenty of articles (because I am nosy and curious) that spell doom and gloom for the antiques and collectibles markets due to the Baby Boomers getting older and being the last generation that will care about vintage things. It is true that certain antiques have taken a nosedive. I've witnessed it up close and personal.

But I can read all the articles that tell me to SELL now and don't buy any more antiques to sell or for speculation since the market is basically doomed for low to mid-priced items. According to some experts, unless I can purchase fine portraits and porcelain, etc. from the 18th century--I am doomed.

OK, I can't afford to buy really high-end stuff.

But facts don't lie. The younger generation, at least where I work, seem to be buying more antiques and collectibles than those Baby Boomers. Not that Baby Boomers don't get a little excited over some antiques.

But they aren't buying them for the reasons I would think.

The folks who were buying those tools did not look over age 25. They were a married couple.

So what were they going to do with all those tools? Go off the grid.

Turns out they just sold their house in Colorado and were planning on moving to another state where land is really cheap and building codes were almost non-existent. I'd mention the state, but I wouldn't want this information getting out and driving land prices up before these sweet kids could get their land.

They plan on building their own log cabin. Growing their own food and eventually be totally self-sustaining. And they decided to do the smart thing and come to Florence, the antiques capital of Colorado to make purchases. Most of the tools in their pile were in the $2 each range.

I asked them why they wanted to do it. I explained I came from the 1970s generation where most everyone read Mother Earth News and dreamed of doing this. But I had NO idea this new generation was into that.

They laughed and replied they have talked about how they were born in the wrong generation.

I didn't tell them that while I respect young people, I wrongly made the assumption that most of them were glued to their Smart phones and computers and couldn't live a day without Starbucks.

The wife explained why, "It's about being an American and doing it because you can. Proving that you can do it."


I'm pretty sure she wasn't implying that other cultures don't do this in this modern era. I think she was saying that America is a wonderful place to live and prove yourself however you see fit, even if it's hard.

The husband echoed her sentiment and mentioned liberty and freedom to be who you want.

I actually got a chill up my neck and commented they must be Libertarians!

It turns out they were "just a little Libertarian."

Let's forget the labels. American. Libertarian. Off the grid. Pioneers.

They were simply telling me they were happy to live in America and be young and strong and free to choose a lifestyle that even older people might find too difficult.

And while these are the first antiques store customers who told me they were going off the grid with their purchases, surprisingly they weren't the first very young people to tell me they were buying antique tools and implements to get back to basics.

In other words--these antiques weren't being collected or going to gather dust in a display.

I had one young man who bought knives and hatchets say, once in awhile he simply goes into the woods for a few days and practices the art of survival and old school things just to know that he can.

These aren't people who are preppers or survivalists. Not that there is anything wrong with those pursuits. They are simply young people who don't want to sit in front of electronic devices all day. They want to be strong and prove themselves just because they can.

And I am meeting more and more of these young folks whose eyes literally sparkle when they are browsing at draw knives and planes and tools and dreaming of building their own log cabin or making furniture or making their way in the world on their own old school terms.

What a privilege to meet these "kids" and know that to them antiques aren't some old relic of days gone by--but useful tools in a meaningful and relevant life in the here and now.

Selling Your Antiques & Collectibles In Florence, The Antiques Capital of Colorado

I occasionally work in an antiques mall in Florence, the antiques capital of Colorado and most every day someone comes in off the streets to sell antiques or collectibles.

This post is a long overdue response to a blog buddy who emailed me awhile back asking about the best way to go about selling antiques or collectibles in Florence.

While I am not an expert on the subject, I'm happy to pass on a few tips on how it generally works.

One of the most asked questions is if the shop I work in (or others in town) take items on consignment. The answer is generally no. There are several antiques malls in Florence. And Florence is no different from most other towns when it comes to antiques malls. Most malls have individual dealers that rent a space--generally by the square foot and then pay the antiques mall a  commission (usually 10 percent) on each sale. Individual dealers, such as myself, generally have small spaces and don't have room for large items --unless the item is very unique and a good seller. Even a good seller can sit in an antiques booth for months and take up a fairly large amount of rent, cutting into the bottom line.

There are a few shops in Florence  owned by single owners that have the floor space to take items on consignment. I won't mention those shops by name, since most shop owners welcome folks off the street, but don't want to be deluged with people coming in wanting to sell items, unless they get an advance phone call and possibly a potential seller sending them a picture. Sometimes the owners (or dealers working in the antiques malls) will purchase select items on the spot. Generally the mall owners, out of respect, get the first chance to purchase items from people dropping in or calling--and if they don't want to purchase, usually whoever is working in the shop has the option to purchase.

Most owners of shops  tend to more buy out estates or buy in bulk at auctions, etc. But most do welcome people off the streets and love to share their knowledge even if they aren't able to buy the item.

One of the most common things that happens is people attempting to sell items look it up on Ebay. That's fair. People want to have a general idea of what something might be worth. But as someone who sold on Ebay for over 15 years--Ebay's pricing isn't always accurate. For example, sometimes I'd list an item and it would not sell, even though I listed it lower than the last crop of identical items that sold. Then I'd wait a few weeks and relist it and it would sell for double. Or, sometimes it would sell for less than half of what the "going" price was.

I've spoken to over a dozen people attempting to sell items who tell me it sells for $50 on Ebay. I say,"OK, what would YOU like for your item?" The answer is almost ALWAYS,"Why, $50 of course!"

That happened recently when a gentleman attempting to sell a vintage pair of eyeglasses for $50, that he insisted went for $50 on Ebay. I know that eyeglasses generally sell in Florence for about $19 to $24. If the glass are Civil War era or come in a metal case--perhaps a bit more. His glasses were very common.

Usually people ask DOUBLE the price that most dealers can expect to get. And most people don't realize dealers have to pay rent, commission and price things and keep records.

One gentleman insisted mounted deer antlers were going for $140 in a neighboring Colorado county. They go for a fraction of that in Florence. Of course, I always suggest people go to the place, whether it is Ebay or a neighboring county to get those prices. But inevitably--they always mention that might be impractical when I gently press the issue.

This sound rather negative, but it's the norm. That's not to say that I have not told people EXACTLY what the real-life, realistic retail prices are for things--and some of them offer to sell their items for a reasonable amount that I could make a small profit.

Recently some folks came in were thrilled with what they were attempting to sell. A very OLD, but common chair. Single chairs (unless they are carved or very unique) simply do not sell well except as plant stands. And for usually under $20. These folks kept saying how OLD their items were. Stanley levels without the bubble are fairly useless, except as wall hangers. OLD does not equal valuable always.

A lady came in fresh from an auction in a neighboring county. She said she got a very good deal on Ball glass jars. She brought me another jar from a dealer's booth in the mall that was $6. She said her jars were better than the $6 one we had and wanted $5 each for her jars. She was a lovely lady--but  a $1 profit isn't a profit to us, because if we mark a jar $6, we have to pay the mall 60 cents commission and some rent. We'd actually go in the hole. AND Ball jars (unless they are a certain color or very old) simply do not sell well. I brought another dealer in to talk to the lady and she offered her $2 each jar. The lady acted a bit insulted. But the other dealer told me later that she was being polite, because 50 cents to $1 is more realistic since these jars are so common they sit on shelves for years sometimes, eating up space and rent.

There are always exceptions. So don't take what I observe as gospel. But here's what does not sell at all--or sells VERY slowly. China, unless it's really unique. Depression glass (unless it is rare). Doilies. Crocheted items, unless bedspreads that are exquisite. Tools that are bent or broken or missing pieces. Clear Ball or Mason jars, unless they are very old and in great shape. Most any type of clear glass. Single common chairs. Stuff made in China or India that looks old, but isn't.

These items do sell, but for low prices. Old or looks old does not equate valuable or fast sellers.

Here's what is fairly hot--at least in Florence. GOOD old tools. Draw knives. Levels with the bubbles. Files. Saws. Knives. But they must be in decent condition.

Generally any item that was a "man" item sells fairly well. the theory is that men were often hard on their tools and implements and a lot didn't survive in great shape, so they are at a premium. And many people are buying these items NOT to sit in a case or "collect" but actually use them.

"Women" collectibles and antiques do sell. But since items were generally in the house, and not in a barn or workshop, more survived, so they are more common. Of course, quilts in good condition sell well. In fact, almost the minute quilts arrive, they are sold and there are times when there are no quilts to be found. But those doilies and more common linens sell as low as $1 each. Vintage tablecloths and aprons in good condition are not fast sellers, but do sell. Pictures and prints (unless rare) are usually slow movers. Some old glass lamps and kerosene ones sell well--but generally lamps are not the fastest sellers.

Let's move on to furniture. Oak furniture and Victorian furniture has taken a fairly large nosedive in the past few years, pricewise. But good solid furniture sells well. Most people value solid wood furniture, especially when it is priced just a little higher that particle board or modern furniture that won't stand the test of time. Primitive cabinets, pie safes, butcher block-type islands, etc. are fast sellers.

Spool cabinets sell fast. Weathervanes. Most anything advertising. Matched sets of vintage license plates in good condition (Common license plates from the 1970s and newer usually sell for $5 each). Pyrex. Old glass coffee jars. Most anything that came out of an old general or hardware store.

Unusual items sell, even if they aren't that old. Chaps. Bull riding gear. Saddles, etc. Water drinking fountains. Older wheelbarrows. Just those rather useful items that aren't that easy to find in a retail store. Fishing equipment. Ammo boxes. Crates. Wire baskets--very hot.

And for a reason that defies my understanding--ladders sell like hotcakes. Newish ladders. Old ladders. Wooden stepladders fly out the door. Vintage kitchen step stools. Winners. Kitchen carts. Winners.

Industrial carts or items used as kitchen islands are big sellers. Any type of furniture that can be used in a cabin or vacation home that is rustic, usually sells quickly.

Pumps? YES! Small water pumps. Large ones. Doesn't matter. They are fairly hard to find. People tell me they are using them in vacation homes, cabins and even tiny homes they are building.

People come in looking for "survival" type items. Hatchets, axes, pumps, tools, etc. Some people are using these items to go totally off the grid or for weekend camping or weekend survival type expeditions.

Any type of antique or collectible that can be used and used a lot seems to be taking precedence over items that just sit on a shelf. But many people are looking to complete a collection or "collect" an item just because it looks good to them.

Hardware sells. Knobs. Keys. Handles. Little odd bodkins that people can use to repair or compliment their existing antiques--or use to make artwork or garden art.

Stained glass. Garden items. Iron gates--they all sell, but it takes awhile.

Many people tell me they are returning to their roots and want to brew moonshine, practice survival skills or build some artwork out of a jumble of antiques. They buy a headboard and grow some veggies or vines on it. They remove glass from old windows and use them as picture frames or as a frame to hang kitchen utensils. Don't undervalue old windows, doors and screen doors. And barn doors are fairly good sellers.

And customers will come in an inform us of trends we are not totally familiar with. Glamping is in. That's glamorous camping and some customers want vintage things for their campers or auto-related items to do their glamping in style.

Steampunk? Florence has more steampunk items per square foot than most towns. It's a fairly fast seller. We have shops with steampunk widgets to make your own art and lots of corsets and other steampunk fashions.

When people used to question me about what sold on Ebay, I'd always say,"What you think is worth a lot is usually not. And what you think is worthless and are embarrassed to put on Ebay often sells for a lot." That was true in the late 90s and most of the early 2000s. I don't sell much on Ebay anymore because certain markets tanked as competition became more fierce. Examples of what I was embarrassed to put on Ebay or thought was virtually worthless. A vintage Playtex rubber girdle that sold for $200. A cracked cup with no saucer that was ugly and I started the bid at $3.99. I sold for over $300 because it was a Civil War-era cup that was used on a railroad that was only in business for a few years, unbeknownst to me. Vintage ladies panties! Yes, that was embarrassing. They often sold for $60 an up, per pair.

I don't claim to be an antiques and collectibles expert. But one story I have and that I am sticking to is: What you think is worth a lot--usually not. What you don't--might be. Always ask someone or look it up online. And IF you can't find it online--chances are it's fairly rare and someone in Florence might be able to either buy it or help you find the person who specializes in it, even if they are out of the area.

And sometimes selling a speciality item might be best done on Ebay. Most shoppers to brick and mortar antiques stores would giggle over vintage panties and rubber girdles from the 1950s. And it might take a long time for the customer to show up in Florence to know that cracked Civil War cup was almost beyond rare.

And even though I've been a part-time antiques and collectibles dealer for many years--many times I don't know what's valuable. More often than not, I know what's NOT valuable. But most people in Florence, who either own shops or work in them--can help you get the information you need. And don't ever be shy about asking and then asking even more people in town how to find out what you have.

Even sellers will not know at times what they have. Semi-recently we bought this crappy-looking vase covered with wallpaper scraps for $3.99 from a dealer in Colorado Springs. It turns out its a Van Briggle--but it's so odd that we can't locate the era from the mark. And the vase is so glaze-flawed it looks like it might be a test piece from the 1920s. Van Briggle and other potteries can be very ugly (in my opinion) and one might pass them by. One time we bought an UGLY piece at a yard sale for $1. We knew it was Van Briggle, but thought it was worthless because we couldn't tell what it was and it was UGLY. Turns out it was so rare that not many people knew what it was. It was a candleholder that was made to be converted to electricity right as electricity was becoming popular. And I  only found out because a few experts on Ebay were kind enough to email me and tell me what I had. Sometimes if a local dealer (including me) doesn't have a clue--it's worth it to put it on Ebay just for the worldwide exposure, since it's never failed that niche experts will email and share their vast knowledge. See, when you think it's SO UGLY and you can't even tell what it is--it might be a winner.

Of course, no one can give a definitive list of what sells and what doesn't. The minute one thinks one has it figured out--someone will come in an scoop up tons of doilies and other things that usually don't sell at a fast clip.

Jewelry, especially vintage Native American pieces always hold their own.

I've covered a few items that sell quickly and a few that don't move too quickly. It's not to be discouraging--it's just to give people an idea why dealers might not jump on common clear glass jars, a box of doilies or broken tools and single common chairs.

I don't know every antiques dealer in Florence. There are probably over a hundred from the area and even out of state that rent booth space. But I do know quite a few of them that own their own shops--and they are all honest people. I know many of the dealers that do rent space and they also are honest.

If an item will retail for $100, they will usually tell you. They won't attempt to give you $5 for a $100 item. I can't speak for every dealer--so I will speak for myself. If you have a good idea an item will sell for $100, I will usually offer about $50 for the item. That sounds like I will double my money. Let's say the item is a small vintage book shelf and measures about two by three feet. That's five square feet. Booth rents vary in Florence and in Pueblo and Colorado Springs. It depends on the location in the shops. But generally rent is $1.50 per square foot.

 It will cost me $7.50 rent per month for my book shelf. Say it takes three months to sell. Sometimes even good items take a year or more to sell. But let's say three months. I've spent $22.50 on rent. Assuming the customer doesn't ask for a price reduction, I get my $100 and 10 percent goes to the antiques mall. So I get $90. Subtract the $50 I paid. I get $40. Most malls charge the dealer three percent if a credit card is used. Customers use credit cards about 60 percent of the time in my experience. Subtract $3 for the credit card fees. So now I get $37. Now subtract the $22.50 I spent on rent and my profit is $14.50. And that is assuming I did not have to clean the item, spend money on a furniture oil or make a minor repair. So, in my example, I made about 14 percent profit. Better than the stock market at times--but not the riches most people might expect.

Now it's a little easier to understand why some dealers would hope to go to an estate or auction and get that book shelf for $20.

That is one reason antiques dealers (especially the dealers who do it part-time and rent booths) are very careful about what they buy since space is at a premium and profit margins are sometimes low.

Most booth rental dealers find it more profitable to buy bulk in auctions and estates. And if you go to an antiques mall, you can usually see placards inviting you to call a dealer who will come to your home or property to buy in bulk.

Owners who own the shops, of course have overhead, but in my opinion have more leeway and space to buy items off the street than the "part-time" dealers.

There are a few shops (not the antiques malls) in Florence that do accept consignments, but not usually smaller items. They usually accept select pieces of furniture or higher-priced items for the obvious reasons that it isn't worth their efforts on less expensive items.

This is NOT to discourage people from dropping into the stores without notice to try and sell items. I've sent people to other stores to sell their items (when I was unable or didn't have room) and people have come back to thank me for sending them to an honest dealer who gave them a good price and bought the item on the spot. But I generally know what stores semi-specialize in what items.

Get to know what stores specialize in certain items. There are single-owner stores that specialize in the more high-end items and those in the mid-range. Some stores specialize in primitives and others in the more "man" collectibles such as tools.

And yes, some dealers actually buy items off the street that go directly to their own homes for their own enjoyment. I usually spend a little more on those items since I don't have to worry about overhead. Go into the shops (or look in the windows) and you can generally tell what shops' themes are.

Florence also has two excellent pawn shops that carry a large variety of antiques. Those are also an option for folks wanting to sell outright and get some quick cash and a fair deal. I usually recommend that option to folks that have just one or two mid-price items to sell. And here's a little trade secret: Pawns shops, at least in Florence, have some very good prices on some very unique items. I've spoken to customers, tourist customers and other dealers that have frequented Florence pawn shops and found fantastic deals.

If you are attempting to clear out a large amount of smaller-sized items with no particular theme--I also recommend people rent their own booth spaces. Several antiques malls and shops offer "starter" spaces for very nominal fees. Those spaces might just be a baker's rack, cupboard or shelf--and can be as low as $20 per month rent.

It all boils down to the decisions on what is best for what you are selling. One or two good quality items: Find a single-owner shop that specializes in those items for the best price. One or two mid-range items: The pawn shops are usually the best bet. A few items with no theme: Also try the shops. And sometimes a dealer who rents space in a mall will be working in the mall and want to purchase or can direct you to a dealer's placard with contact information. Have a lot of items? The best option might be renting space IF you are willing to be in it for awhile and be willing to pay the overheard and wait for sales. But the overall profit could be higher if you have a knack for cleaning, pricing, arranging and being patient.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Florence,Colorado: Hardly A Tweet or Twitter

Oh my! Florence, Colorado is a beautiful little town, not far from the Arkansas River. It's the antiques capital of Colorado AND it is also home to many artists, craftsmen, authors, agricultural folks and many all-around talented people.

I've been operating on the theory that we have a multitude of talented people hiding out in Fremont County--the Royal Gorge Region, and particularly in Florence. In Florence, we have lots of public artwork. Great architecture. Great shops. Fantastic restaurants. And mostly friendly people.

And I'm not the only one who thinks this--and says it. And writes about it. OK, not that many people write about Florence. I occasionally work in an antiques mall--and I've heard hundreds of people from near and far--make the same comments I do.

Why just the other day a woman from Colorado Springs literally ran up to me and smiled and yelled,"I love Florence! Florence is my HAPPY place!"

Yes, Florence is MY happy place too. I was just talking to a friend who moved here from Colorado Springs last year. I moved here from the Springs (and Denver) a few years ago. We were talking about how when we moved here we thought we'd be in our beloved Colorado Springs and Manitou every week mourning the loss of culture, shopping, food and the bustle.

Not so, we both agreed. We still go to the big city every month or so--and love it. BUT we are happier in Florence than we ever thought. My friend said it's so quiet here. So peaceful. And I commented (as we were enjoying a world-class lunch at Ito's Japanese Restaurant on Main Street) that we had good restaurants and didn't need to run to Pueblo or the Springs that often to chow down.

OK, so Florence is great. All my friends here are transplants and we all talk about how cool it is is here. I speak to dozens of customers weekly about how they LOVE Florence--even if they are from Canon City or Westcliffe.

So, why when I go to Twitter--do I see less than 50 Tweets in the past six years about Florence?


We have our own hashtag. #FlorenceColorado

It turns out that I am the primary tweeter of Florence, Colorado. And I didn't plan it that way. So, come of everyone. Share the news about Florence on Twitter--or wherever. We shouldn't be hiding our lights under a bushel.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Recreational Marijuana In Florence, Colorado

Last September I wrote a post about marijuana in Florence, Colorado.

You can read it here:

I already know my opinions about the subject. My opinions are very similar to Ron Paul.

For those who don't remember--Ron Paul was a 2012 Republican presidential candidate. He also ran for president previously. He was a long-time Texas Congressman.

He's a Libertarian.

I'm not a registered Libertarian--but am one at heart. I'm a conservative. Yes, the two ideologies do mesh well--even though it sounds improbable. If one is objective (and calm) it is possible to hold to one's own personal ideas and not attempt to control or bash other folks for their opposing ideologies.

What does Ron Paul have to do with recreational marijuana in Florence, Colorado--or anywhere for that matter? It's pretty simple--some of us don't smoke weed or even like it, but due to being educated in Libertarian principles by Ron Paul and others, are able to give up judgment and control and realize that recreational marijuana might have a place, even in a conservative area.

Disclaimer: I was an alternate Ron Paul delegate in 2012--and I did note yes on medical marijuana for Colorado and NO on recreational.

If you go back to my September post, you'll see I changed my mind. Not on liking marijuana. Just on the freedom and economic potentials in Fremont County, and elsewhere that might come from recreational marijuana enterprises.

I've received a few comments on that September post that got me intrigued. I am guessing the comments are from people involved in the recreational marijuana industry in Colorado.

We all know how I feel about it. BUT I'm more interested in how OTHERS feel about. As a former small-town journalist, I am always interested more in others people's true stories and opinions--even if they don't necessarily fit my opinions  and conclusions.

So, I am asking people from both sides of the issue (in Colorado and especially Florence and Fremont County) to weigh in. I'll consider posting lengthy opinions on this blog--not to judge or rip the insights apart--but to learn and share.

So, feel free to weigh in. I do this for free and fun, so I don't have a lot of time and resources to interview people or go to them.

Contact email:

You can remain anonymous--or not.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Florence, CO: Sandy Dale & The Gnarlies Smackdown Valve Cover Race

It's a grudge match! Now, this blog doesn't go around spreading gossip--so you'd better make sure and listen the first time. I have it on good authority that the usually peaceful artistic genius, Sandy Dale and The Gnarlies (also peaceful and loving) are still experiencing the slight agony of defeat of last year's Florence Car Show in the valve cover races.

Sandy said her valve cover car didn't even place--but she had a good time. This year she and The Gnarlies are planning on a good time again--but are stepping up their game to be victorious in the race.

When she slammed, I mean gently placed on the counter of ye olde antique mall-- a deluxe repurposed lunchbox (translated: lean, mean speed carrying case for The Gnarlies and their smoking-hot valve cover car) I knew she meant business.

Yeah! See it right there. on the carrying case: GNARLIES, NEED FOR SPEED.

Florence artisan Sandy Dale picked her three fastest Gnarlies to compete in the May 22 valve cover race.

It's going to be an epic smackdown of WWE proportions. Or maybe not. But I like my version of events better.

You can tell I'm a Gnarlies fan. I could have just taken one picture. But the guys were speeding around the counter so fast, I had to snap multiple pictures so I could capture the speed. Not really. But that's the kind of smack they talk in grudge matches and such.

Oh, yeah! Us Gnarlies have been practicing on roller coasters and drinking raw eggs to train for this epic race.

Oh, excuse me? You don't know what Gnarlies are? Well, you can read a bit about them in this previous blog post:

And you can read about the Florence Car Show and find out about the epic valve cover races in a previous blog post:

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Confessions Of An Antiques Store Worker: What's The Best Thing About Antiques

As some of you know, when I'm not sneaking around Florence (the official antiques capital of Colorado) gathering tidbits and photos for this blog--I occasionally work in an antiques mall.

Of course, part of the job is answering the phone and attempting to answer people's questions on the phone. You would not believe some of the phone calls I answer.

 I consider some of the phone calls a testament to what a friendly and welcoming town Florence is. One semi-recent phone call was from a woman who had passed through Florence years ago and had stopped at the antiques mall and thought it might be a nice place to relocate to. Florence--not the antiques mall. I always ask folks to call back when the owner is working--but folks keep asking me questions, so I answer. Yes, Florence is a wonderful place to live! Friendly, community-minded folks. Yes, real estate prices are very good. Low crime. Banana-belt weather. Very active music, arts and creative scene. And antiques galore.

I got a phone call from a gentleman from New Mexico this week. I didn't get his name--but I'll call him Jim.

Over a decade ago, Jim had rented a space in the antiques mall for a brief time. He had never returned to Florence since moving--but recalled what a professional and friendly person the owner was--and wanted to chat and get advice, now that he was opening his own antiques store in New Mexico.

I asked Jim to call back when the owner was working, but he started telling me his plans to open a store and we got to chatting for nearly a half hour.

Jim asked me what sold nowadays in antiques stores. If I had been asked that a few years ago, I would have not known how to respond. I sold online for years. Then stopped selling antiques for a few years and a few years ago, I started working in several antiques stores. And of course, putting my own items in the stores I worked at.

I can't speak for the entire antiques market in the United States. But around here, Florence (as the antiques capital of Colorado) does draw other dealers from surrounding states. They often comment that the prices here are generally much lower than other parts of the country. And we get semi-local dealers that bring their Florence finds to the larger metro areas. And we do get a fair amount of locals who don't care what's "hot" in the antiques world.

I told Jim that rusty sells. Old window frames. Little widgets. Farm-type things. Generally linens and china and clear glass are out--unless they are fine specimens or very inexpensive. And small furniture.

I'd say over half the customers are looking for a widget or rusty "farm" item to make a project. They are upcyling or recycling. Sure, people come in the shops and buy furniture or a stand-alone piece. But more often than not, they are looking for an item to turn into their own personal work of art.

I became fascinated with this trend and in other blog posts, I have a few stories about what people find in Florence and what they plan on doing with their items.

One dealer in Florence told me that the market has changed from a collector's market to a decorator's market. I find that partially true. I meet collectors all the time. But I do meet more decorators--but I meet even MORE creators than plan on a new vision for an antique or collectible.

Antiques (in our market at least) are not something to be collected just for the prestige or potential investment so much anymore--they are sought to be something more personal and worked into a larger project, gift or statement in their homes.

And even though I think about what people are planning to do with their purchases, I didn't think about it as deeply until Jim asked me, "What do YOU like most about the antiques business?"

That gave me pause. Sure, I like antiques and collectibles. Some give me a huge case of the giggles--because I have never understood clown collectibles or doilies.

Here's basically what I told Jim. "I used to be a newspaper reporter. (Yes, I really was--in a town much like Florence.) And what I like most about the antiques business is the  stories. The stories behind why people are buying things. What it makes them feel. What they are going to make. What memory the antiques evoke."

That's exactly what I like. Even more than the antiques themselves.

For example, a customer was buying a bowl the other day. She chuckled and said the did NOT need one more bowl. But she LOVED them. I said, I had about 30 bowls. She said she had about 50.

But she had to have one more. And she didn't know why. "Well, I'll tell you why I like bowls,," I said," They remind me of being a little kid and baking with my mother and her always letting me scrape and lick the cake batter or cookie dough bowl."

Her face lit up. That was exactly it. She had her own bowl memories--of good food and family and good times. There is nothing like a good antique bowl to not only connect with present family and hearth--but to almost reach back through to long-gone generations that gathered in the kitchen to see what was in the bowls.

I am not sure antiques dealers are really selling antiques. They are selling memories. And in the newer market--they are selling components for people to make projects and decorator items and make new memories.

Yes, that's what I like the best about the antiques trade. Not the antiques. It is the smiles and past memories and future memories the customers honor me with by sharing their stories with me.