Look, old stuff grosses me out.
I don’t care how cute that sooty old vintage peacoat is—the idea of placing moth-ball flavored material against my body that’s previously had armpit fluid secreted onto it by other humans doesn’t do it for me. It just doesn’t. Somebody spear an arrow through my heart for heresy. I KNOW.
So this is why I was horrified to find myself uncontrollably walking right into this god damn little vintage shop in Frederick, Maryland last week. WHAT ARE YOU DOING, ASHLEY?! (That was my man voice bellowing to my brain.)
Turns out, I had spotted these cool silver rings in the window that had words seared into them (can we use that term? seared?), and anything that has words seared into it I’m instantly obsessed with. Just ask the front desk at this hotel in Philly. I told them straight up when I checked in the other day: I’m only staying in this hotel because you had words all over your lobby. I hope there are words in my room. And on my bed sheets. And in the bathtub. And in my morning cup of coffee. GIVE ME ALL THE WORDS.
So anyway, creepy little vintage shop lures me into its creepy little mothball dungeon, and the next thing I know, I’m accidentally roaming around looking at much more than just a few armpitty peacoats.
There are emerald green glass cabinet knobs.
Rainbow colored rosary beads.
Pearl-shimmering evening gloves.
Baby blue parasols.
And lace, lace, lace, lace, lace, laaaaaccceeeeeeeee! (Singing that à la Sound of Music, of course.)
And that’s when I stumbled upon it.
It’s a jewelry box.
And the fucker’s from Paris.
So while I hate old stuff, apparently I don’t hate old stuff if it’s from France. (I would have taken a picture, but there was a sign that explicitly said not to take a picture, so I may or may not have still tried to snap one with my iPhone because I’M SUCH A REBEL, but then totally chickened out and hung my head in shame for at least 60 seconds thereafter.)
You see, I had noticed something very special about this jewelry box—something very special that I wanted to share with you. It wasn’t the jewelry box itself, but rather, the dainty little hand-written card behind it, written in calligraphy, that said:–
“Imported directly from Paris. Previous owner: Collette. French dress-maker & artist. Believer in lust as much as love. Greatest obsession: Brave truths. Happiest when: Painting humanity in Parc des Buttes Chaumont. Favorite thing to do on Sunday: Bordeaux Blanc & a sinful little book in the sunshine. Used this jewelry box: To keep an old love letter, an old engagement ring, and an old photograph of once upon a time.”
Holy shit. Suddenly I don’t care what this thing costs! I want it more than anything in the world. I must have this gold, glass intricate, delicate, Parisian jewelry box. Because now, it is not just a jewelry box. It’s a desire.
A desire to be a woman like Colette. A desire to be effortless. A desire to roam cobblestone streets wearing black flats and red lips. A desire to be an artist, and never apologize once for it. A desire for a life that you imagine hers to be, full of interesting people and interesting music. A desire to be someone I’m not…if only once a day when I place my own mementos into this jewelry box.
Now, compare that with the average shop who would have likely placed a hot green sticker on an item like this with nothing more than a dollar sign on it: $59.
The problem isn’t the cost—the problem is that there’s no context for the cost. Because anyone can buy a jewelry box for twelve bucks at Target. So why spend $59 for a dingy old used one?
The answer: Because of context. Because when you’ve got context, you’ve got meaning. And where there’s meaning, there’s emotion. And where there’s emotion, there’s desire. And where there’s desire?
There are sales.
Remember: What you are selling is never as important as the reason someone is buying it.
And an all-too common mistake?
Is simply forgetting to give them one.