Hit the Vintage Road, Polk County
by Susan Custis, VintageFusion
The kids have been back in school. The beach toys carefully tucked away, and the tan has long ago faded. Fall is wonderfully upon us…yep, it’s ‘pumpkin everything’! Now, it’s Halloween, Thanksgiving, and then on to Christmas. It’s all around the corner, and so much to do. Home décor, collectibles, and gifts to find that are appropriately themed … witches, ghosts, goblins, turkeys, pumpkins, santas, angels, ornaments, and more. The abode has to be appealing (er, scary…) for the ‘trick or treaters’, the table has to be memorably set for ‘turkey day’, and…well, where do we begin about Decking the Halls!!??!
With the excitement on, it’s time to check the tires, tune up the engine, and put gas in the faithful ‘woodie’ to hit the vintage road for some great shopping! Since Central Florida offers the ‘best of the best’ in vintage shopping, with Vintage Finds Magazine (aka, ‘VFM’) as your roadmap, it’s easy to check off all on the ‘to do’ list. So, read on for this edition’s destinations.
This edition of VFM sees us exploring the great shops in Polk County. We start at Vintage Warehouse, located at 4308 Wallace Road, Lakeland. They are open Thursday through Saturday, from 9 to 4 and Sunday 10 to 2. Their early hours make them a great place to start a full day of shopping. We entered the ‘warehouse’ through the large, open cargo bay door to find 12,000 square feet where over 20 vendors create a haven, make that ‘heaven’, of pure shopping delight. We were greeted by an exquisite array of spacious vignettes of all things vintage. Many were staged as beautifully appointed rooms to suggest decorating ideas and many possibilities for the treasures. Their boundless collection includes vintage, industrial, farmhouse, rustic, and more. What makes this place particularly unique is the vast selection of large scale painted furniture pieces.
On we went to Dixieland Relics at 949 South Florida Avenue, Lakeland. They are conveniently open 7 days a week, on Sunday & Monday from 10 to 3, then Tuesday through Saturday from 10 to 5. Here we entered into what on first appearance seemed to be a small shop full of enchanting and eclectic selection of antique and vintage merchandise. We found jewelry to oil paintings to small furniture carefully tucked throughout the store. But at the back of the store, we found a door that opened into a large exterior courtyard and covered area where we found a wonderful selection of vintage hardware, outdoor and garden items, and salvage treasures for our creative inspiration. As we wandered through the outdoor treasures, we found yet another small building to explore filled with larger furniture, lighting, home accessories, and other wonderful antiques not commonly seen elsewhere.
Next stop, Southern Gentlemen Antiques & More is located at 923 S Florida Avenue, Lakeland where they are open Monday through Saturday from 10 to 5. The owners, Harold, from north Georgia, and Tim, from east Tennessee, describe their shop as ‘an antique, gift, and local artist shop’. With 3,600 square feet of shop space, they bring you vintage, antiques, ‘reimagined’ items, handmade creations, custom decorating, and more with a southern flare. Here you’ll find Halloween and autumn on grand display. Part of the “& More” includes Friday night online shopping starting around 7:00/7:15-ish for 2 hours of fun and finds. They invite you to join them via Facebook for an enjoyable evening that includes pure comedy. While on their FB page, be sure to check out the many great decorating ideas.
If you love the mall experience, Lakeland Antique Mall, at 3530 on US Hwy 98 North, Lakeland, is a must see. They are open Monday through Saturday from 10 to 7 and Sunday from 10 to 6. Over 250 local Lakeland antique dealers offer an incredible array of antique and vintage finds. With so many vendors under one roof, the selection is endless. With an incredible array of antique and vintage finds, from clothing to vintage furniture, and such a large assortment of quality collectibles, this is a great place for the ardent collector to systematically search for that perfect addition to their home display. They are also proud to offer ‘a unique shopping experience to help you find all the things you didn’t know you wanted, but can’t live without!’
Be sure not to miss Bless this Mess at 129 E. Main Street, Dundee, open Monday through Friday from 10 to 4 and Saturday from 10 to 2. Enter to be greeted by their warm, welcoming, and attentive staff. Wander through room after room of the over 3,000 square feet of shop space chock full of antiques, vintage, and home and holiday décor. Here you’ll find an unusual array of merchandise not elsewhere seen. Be sure to explore their large selection of Disney décor. When we were there, they had recently returned from a ‘picking trip’ up north. The new treasures were amazing and selling fast. They have a dedicated, loyal following, but their great prices are so good that we found other dealers shopping there, too.
Sisters Junktiques Vintage Market is conveniently located at 31549 on busy Highway 27, in Haines City. You can’t miss it. Hours of operation are Monday 11 to 4, Tuesday through Saturday from 10 to 5 and Sunday from 11 to 4. It really is owned and operated by 2 sisters. From the ‘70s through the ‘90s, this long and spacious building was an orange juice plant, which made OJ for Disney. The building stayed in the family where the sisters opened the antique forum housing over 40 vendors, with a waiting list for more. Others in the family work in the saddle shop and still others oversee a shipping and trucking operation. Don’t miss the Florida booth with the large selection of vintage souvenirs. Join them on the 2nd Thursday of the month for ‘Sip and Shop’ from 4 to 7 pm.
Once home, we unloaded the woodie, laid out our treasures and readily judged this shopping trip a rousing success! Now, time to decorate, carve the pumpkins, get ready for the ‘trick or treaters’, and plan the decorations and menu for Turkey Day for the most memorable vintage holiday season, ever.
Hit the Vintage Road - Thank you to our roving reporter, Susan Custis for hitting the road and sharing these fabulous shops. Be sure to stop by Susan’s shop Vintage Fusion, located at 7720 N. Wickham Rd., #107 Suntree, Fl. Boardwalk at Suntree Plaza, between Cotton Candy Kids Hair Salon and Dynasty Nails. Look for the purple bench!
Stay tuned for our next issue to see where THE VINTAGE ROAD leads us!
Our 127 Yard Sale Tips
by Meg & Rich, rufflesandoveralls.com
Picking, it's what we love, it's what we do for a living. We look for vintage everywhere we go. From yard sales and estate sales to thrift stores, flea markets, and antique malls, if there is vintage to be found we'll find it.
One of our favorite picking spots is the annual 127 Yard Sale. The World's Longest Yard Sale, as it is also called, stretches from Alabama to Michigan along Highway 127. Each year when the first weekend of August rolls around, pickers from across the country head to this incredible 4 day event in search of vintage treasures.
We've been traveling up and down Highway 127 each August for the past few years. We've learned a lot along the way. I thought I'd share some of our best tips in case you plan on hitting the road to do some picking next summer.
Prepare - A successful picking trip requires some advanced preparation. Here are some of the things you'll want to pack before you leave home.
Cash: Cash is king at yard sales. If you're traveling a considerable distance, you may find that your bank does not have a location nearby. Make sure you bring enough cash to cover your purchases so you don't have to drive out of your way and pay multiple ATM fees to cover a big purchase. If you find a business vendor that takes Venmo or credit card, you may want to take them up on it to conserve cash.
Tools: You never know when you are going to find that perfect piece of furniture you've been searching for. When you find it, you want to be sure you can bring it home with you! Bring a measuring tape to make sure your new favorite piece is the right size and to make sure it will fit in your vehicle. You might also want to have a few screwdrivers and a pair of pliers in case you need to disassemble your piece to transport it. Some cargo straps may also be in order so everything arrives at your final destination in one piece.
Packing materials: It can be helpful to bring boxes and paper wrapping or bubble wrap to contain smaller or breakable items.
Food and water: You'll want to make sure that when you head out for the day you bring some water and snacks with you. You may even want to bring a meal or two. You never know where you are going to be around mealtimes or which restaurants might be nearby.
Transportation - Depending on how much you plan on buying and bringing home with you, you may want to consider renting a cargo van or utility trailer for this picking trip. We always bring our 12 passenger van with the seats removed and a small utility trailer with us, because that is what we have. We always run out room by the end of our trip! If you bring a trailer with you, you'll probably want to drop it somewhere while you shop. There are lots of places to stop off the beaten path that can't accommodate trailer parking. Even if you stick to the larger vendor shopping areas, finding room to park a trailer on the busier weekend days can be really tricky. We've debated renting a box truck for this trip several times, but we always decide against it because of how difficult it would be to park and maneuver.
Speaking of parking, you'll want to always be sure to check unpaved parking areas for mud. Ask us how we know! Getting your vehicle stuck will really put a damper in your day of shopping. You'll also want to be sure that you always drive safely and look carefully before crossing the road. Lots of drivers get distracted looking at the sites and don't always pay careful attention.
What to Wear - You never know exactly what kind of weather you'll run into in early August. It can be super hot some days, and some mornings can be kind of cold (at least for this Florida native). You'll want to bring at least one sweatshirt for the occasional cold morning. A hat and sunscreen are great for keeping you going on sunny afternoons. Whatever the temperature, I find it best to wear sneakers or boots instead of sandals. The vendor fields are sometimes muddy, wet, and hilly. I always end up changing out of my sandals after a couple of stops!
Shopping - This is the good part! Officially, the World's Longest Yard Sale runs Thursday-Sunday. That doesn't mean you can't get a head start on your shopping! A lot of vendors are set up the Sunday before the yard sale begins, some set up even earlier than that. Our favorite days to shop are Monday-Friday. All of the stops are much less crowded than on the weekend and you get the first pick of everything!
You might be surprised at how high some of the prices are for a yard sale. Many of the vendors have vintage and antique businesses. Don't be afraid to negotiate and don't be afraid to walk away if you can't agree on a price. There is so much to see, you'll likely find a similar piece later for a better price. We've found that the best prices can usually be found at smaller stops a little bit off the beaten path.
Mark your calendars for the first week of August! The 127 Yard Sale is something every picker should experience at least once! You never know what you might find when you head out on the open road!
by Ed Kindle, Five Katz Antiques
How do small businesses create polices? It’s easy; they don’t. The customers do. I know, you are asking how that happens. Well in a nutshell, policies are created when something happens that’s outside of the business owner’s experience.
As small business owners, we try to anticipate everything that could happen that could affect us. It’s a herculean task, especially if the owner of a new business has never owned a business before or has little retail sales experience.
You can find guides online, similar to what you might find about disaster preparedness for hurricanes, you can ask other small business owners who have been around a while, but you really don’t learn about this stuff until you are in the trenches.
There are many policies you need to create and follow in order for your business to run smoothly. Some may seem obvious such as a refund policy. Most would think it’s either yes, you accept returns and offer refunds, or you don’t. Well, do you sell new goods? Do you belong to a buying group or buy wholesale from a manufacturer and do they stand by their products and will they compensate you for returned products, or do you have to take the hit yourself? Will you offer cash back, or store credit? Some items just can’t be returned like some clothing, or if a package is destroyed or a receipt lost. As you can see, there are many variables to what started out as a yes/no question.
What payment methods do you accept? How often do you run sales and for how much? Do you deliver? Do you offer layaway? Do you have public bathrooms? Are you able to be handicap accessible? What’s your privacy and data collection policy? (This is a pretty recent one to come about.) Do you allow service animals? What about shirts and shoes? What about masks?
One thing that a new business owner needs to remember when creating policies is, they have to put some thought into them to make sure they are reasonable and enforceable. Then they need to stick with them and not waiver. But remember, the “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone for any reason” just doesn’t fly in today’s climate and can get you into hot water if you post it.
We sell new and vintage items at Five Katz. This means new items sell at a retail price and this price is hard to modify. We don’t have the buying power of a large corporate store, so for some items I pay more than someone like Amazon sells them for. I am just hoping my customers are more interested in helping to support a local shop than giving an online giant more cash. On our vintage items, we do our research, as well as rely on our experience and also consider what we pay for an item when we set a price. Sometimes I can offer a discount and sometimes I can’t as the margin is just too close. These are both decisions that have been turned into a policy. New sells at retail and vintage has some flexibility.
To return to the opening point, how do customers set a store’s policy? Well they really don’t literally set them, but their actions force a business owner to reassess the way they are doing something due to a customer’s behavior. A couple examples…
Let’s say an out of state customer comes in looking for antique toys. They tell you they are a huge collector and tell you all about their collection. After their next sentence, they spot an item they like. This item is a sealed new old stock item that you are not likely to see again in this condition. As they are looking at it, the next words they speak are, “We are dealers, what’s your best price?” Um, wait. A minute ago, they were collectors, now they are dealers looking to buy low and sell high.
Okay, you try to keep a smile on your face, as you know there is a possible sale here, so you look at the price: $125. And you look up what you paid for the item. You decide that because you are new and want to get established, (or sometimes sales are slow, and you need the cash in the drawer) you decide to offer a 10% discount. That seems fair, $12.50 off just for asking.
It seems that’s not good enough, and they hit you with an offer of $100. That’s 20% off. Now if you decide to accept, that’s $25 off or one fifth of the price! You want to make the sale, so you say ok. Next words from the customer are “You’ll take check, right?” Okay this one’s easy, “No, I don’t take checks, especially from out of state accounts.” That’s a policy.
Okay, they don’t like that answer, so they hand you a credit card. Well now you are out another 3% for processing fees. Then they plop a sales tax exemption form on your counter from New York. When you say that’s not accepted here, they insist that all the other stores in town accepted it. So, you bite the bullet and do so as well. The transaction is complete, and you move on. 20% + 3% + 7% = Ouch. (30% discount = $41 off – from $125 to $84.00)
Here is where the customer sets the policy based on their behavior. You keep thinking the sales tax thing isn’t right. So, you call the Florida Department of Revenue and ask them, “Do I have to accept out of state sales tax exempt forms?” the response you get confirms your suspicions. No, the state does not accept them, because when the item is resold in another state, Florida doesn’t get the tax! When you ask about all the other stores that accept them, and what would happen during an audit? You are told the store is responsible for paying all the out of state exempted tax to the state of Florida. YIKES!
Then you ask about Florida State Exempt Forms. You are then told that no, you are not required to accept them. There are large corporations who do not offer exempt sales due to the accounting involved. It’s your business, and your decision if you want to offer them. You thank the nice revenue person and your new policy is set: Your business does not offer exempt sales to anyone whether in or out of state forms are offered.
A second example: Pets vs service animals. A service animal is a specially trained animal that is certified as such. It has a specific function and you cannot prohibit such an animal entry into your business. There is Federal law on this. Some pet owners carry/take their animals everywhere they go. Are you expected to let them all in your business? No, you can prohibit them because emotional support animals or pets do not qualify. Also, in case you are wondering, dogs are the only animals that qualify as service animals per the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act).
To answer as to why is simple. Maybe someone’s adorable puppy left a present for you in your store. One you were forced to clean up, because the owner neglected to tell you before they left. Now you have an antique $1,000 Persian rug on the floor with a nice stain on it. It’s hard to enforce “you break it you bought it” nowadays. The other possible issue that could arise is if a customer’s pet bites another customer. The victim isn’t going to care if it was your animal or not, they are going to let the lawyers sort it out and you will probably be added to the lawsuit. It will take time and money you don’t have to try to extricate yourself from this mess. Another issue, allergies. Some people are highly allergic to dogs or cats and having them in the store can leave some people breathless, literally. Voila~ a new policy is set – no pets, registered service animals only.
Some policies are store specific; others work globally. One thing you can be sure of is that sooner or later, someone will object to one of your policies. This is why they need to be well thought out and researched. They also should be posted for all to see so someone can’t say later that they didn’t know or didn’t see them. If you have to explain your policy to a customer, be polite and calm. Policies also help any staff you employ know what is expected and allowed and keeps things consistent.
Good business policies are necessary to help your business run smoothly, and also to protect it as well as your customers.
Visit our contributing author, Ed Kindle at Five Katz Antiques.
OPEN M, W, F & SAT at 4509 S. Hopkins Avenue in Titusville, Florida.
Hi I'm Kathy, owner of Vintage Finds Magazine. I hope you enjoy these vintage shops and markets.