Try Your Local Antique Store for Last-Minute Gift-Giving Needs

Do you have a daughter or niece who is in college or just starting out? A dinner set of mismatched china is a fun way to help her get started on her own and might also get her started as an antiquer or collector.

I know it’s getting late, but if you still have some shopping to do, please rethink shopping the big box stores for your Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah and other gift giving occasions. There are wonderful and unique gift items to be found in your local antique shops. Not only would you be giving a gift that is unique and personal but you would also be helping your community by spending money in a locally owned business and the tax money generated would stay in the community.

NOTE: From the 3/50 Project; 1) Pick three local independently owned businesses you would miss if they were gone. Drop in, say hi and purchase an item or two; 2) If half of the employed people in the U.S. spent $50 a month in locally owned, independent small businesses it would generate approximately $42.6 billion in revenue; 3) Pick 3, spend 50, save the local economy.

Most modern day antique shops/antique malls are not filled with musty, dusty, grandmother stuff. Let me rephrase that: you may see items that your grandmother had in her home, but hopefully the musty and dusty is gone. It is possible to find something for everyone on your shopping list and the recipient will know that you really gave their gift some thought and chances are pretty good that the gift will be something that will be proudly displayed, worn or otherwise utilized and not relegated to a closet or be regifted next year.

I gave my mamma a first-edition of “Racketty-Packetty House” that she loved as a child. When she opened it, it brought her to tears. If your gift can bring the recipient to tears, you know you have made the perfect gift.

If the recipient is a collector, this makes finding a meaningful gift so much easier. If they are not a collector, then hopefully they have a hobby and you can find a hobby-related item. If your gift recipient does not fall in to either one of those categories, then let the fun of antique shop browsing begin. My mamma was always the easiest person for me to buy for because she collected paperweights, elephants, dolls, antique baby feeding dishes and books. She spoke often about a book that she loved when she was a child titled “Racketty-Packetty House.” I thought it would be an easy book to find, but all I could find were recent reprints. It took a local book seller seven years to find an old copy for me. It happened to be a first edition and it brought mamma to tears when she opened it. If your gift can bring the recipient to tears, you know you have made the perfect gift.

If the giftee collects something that is easy to find such as elephants, turn finding the perfect elephant item in to a personal challenge. Don’t purchase just another figurine look for something unique with the animal on it.

• With minimal sewing skills, you can turn a vintage handkerchief in to a sweet pillow;
• Frame a vintage hanky for a wonderful wall hanging ;
• Find a unique piece of art, works of art do not have to be expensive, find a nice lithograph or print;
• Find a piece of jewelry that incorporates the collected item or hobby;
• You can rarely go wrong with books.

Here are a few alternative ideas:

Put together a nice gift basket with a variety of items for the table and kitchen with a vintage set of salt and pepper shakers, a couple of old kitchen utensils and a vintage apron or tea towels. What about a shadow box collage containing old ephemeral items, or vintage golf balls and tees for a golf enthusiast? This same concept works well for any sport or you can combine items from all sports for someone who is a general sports enthusiast. While it is not a good idea to purchase old toys for kids—even though most of us survived playing with them—the collage concept is a good great item for children just find a variety of items that show the interests of the child. I have made several baby shower gifts using an inexpensive shadow box, old feeding spoons, vintage baby shower cards and other small baby-related items. Let your imagination run wild with this it is a fun gift to create, unique and from the heart.

If you are close to the gift recipient and know that they are in need of small tables, lamps or even a matching set of dinnerware, these too make wonderful gift items and will not break the bank. We have gifted a couple of sets of vintage china and continue to get feedback when they find a new piece to add to their set of china. It is the gift that keeps on giving.

NOTE: If you purchase an electrical item from any type of secondhand store, please get it rewired. A friend of mine bought a great vintage TV lamp and one evening, while the lamp was turned off still but plugged in, she saw a flash and the little lamp caught on fire.

Instead of a unimaginative cardboard box, wouldn’t any gift be twice as nice if presented in a vintage candy tin, such as this?

Antique shops are also wonderful places to find non-traditional ways to wrap gifts. For small items, you can find a beautiful old tin or line a vintage canning jar with tissue paper and place the gift inside. Old baskets are terrific for gifting multiple items. I have even used beautiful old pillowcases and hankies to wrap gifts. This way you are essentially giving two gifts in one.

I am not trying to persuade you to never buy online again. Heck, I have an online antique shop and would never do that. Big box stores are here to stay, even though it is very easy to find what you are looking for without setting foot in one. I just believe that it is important during these economic times to spend money with local independent small businesses and the holiday season is the perfect time to put that in to practice.

NOTE: For every $100 spent in locally owned independent stores, $68 is returned to the community in taxes, payroll and other expenditures. If the same amount is spent at a national chain, only $43 stays local. (Source:The 3/50 Project)

Sure, it is easier to shop online. But getting to know a local antique dealer is always an excellent idea. You never know when you will have questions about an item you own or are looking for something special. If you are a good customer, it is highly probable that the local shop owner will be more than happy to help you in any way possible.

Michelle Staley, who insists that collectors are the happiest people, is an antique collector and dealer. Her shop, My Granny’s Attic Antiques, Collectibles and Memorabilia, is in Lenexa, Kansas.

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