Have a Very Vintage Christmas

Have a Very Vintage Christmas

Photos by Daniel Yund and Blake Drummond

While there’s no formal curriculum on becoming a vintage lifestyle expert, stylist and interior designer Bob Richter was nutured on this aesthetic from early childhood. By age 6, he was rescuing antiques from the family home’s attic and learning the stories behind them. Other formative experiences of this Allentown native included assisting his grandmother in the family’s interior design business and working for an antiques dealer while attending New York University.

It seems a natural progression for Richter to go on to host the web series “Flea Market Minute” and star in the PBS series Market Warriors—along with penning A Very Vintage Christmas, contributing to “HuffPost,” and being featured in numerous national media outlets for his knowledge and passion for goods from bygone eras.

His new book, Vintage Living, depicts how family treasures—from fine antiques to simple everyday items—can enhance your dwelling and enrich your life. “Financial value may have its place, but it’s the emotional value of objects that makes a house a home. I always say if you want to know people, ask them about their stuff. All sentimentally valuable items bring comfort, connection, and continuity to our homes and our daily lives. When we share them with friends and loved ones, we share part of ourselves,” Richter explains.

Richter also advocates for finding treasures at thrift shops, flea markets, yard sales, auctions, estate sales and similar venues, where objects may resonate as fond reminders of a person, place, or time. “Buy what you like,” he says, “and don’t be afraid to mix periods.” And while online purchasing can be a time-saving way to plug a hole in a collection, Richter recommends first-person searches since “you can’t replace the experience of things that find you.”

Also keep in mind that items may be repurposed: For example, to blend with his living room décor, Richter had a 1950 RCA Victor TV reconditioned to be cable-ready and play DVDs. “It’s a beautiful object,” he says. “Now it’s relevant again.”

Though Boomers sometimes complain that Millennial Minimalists lack interest in heirloom items, Richter disagrees. “I think Millennials get a bad rap,” he says. “They have a different set of things they enjoy collecting. For them it’s often vintage technology—old radios, phonographs, typewriters, kitchen items, things that move, things that plug in.” Vintage vinyl is another hot commodity, even among high schoolers. Clearly, we can each find an appealing path that connects with the past. 

Gift-Giving Book Pick
Vintage Living: Creating a Beautiful Home with Treasured Objects from the Past (Rizzoli, 2019)

Aspirational, inspirational and just plain fun to peruse, this new book by Bob Richter explores the relationship between people and their prized possessions from previous eras. Profusely illustrated with outstanding photos, the beautifully designed volume features several historic homes with widely differing sensibilities, including the author’s 1859 Italianate townhouse with an unexpectedly vibrant and eclectic decor. Other chapters present vintage views on entertaining and holiday decorating, with a special emphasis on Christmas. (For an immersive Yuletide experience, check out Richter’s previous book, A Very Vintage Christmas: Holiday Collecting, Decorating and Celebrating.) Readers will find guidance on looking for yesteryear finds and bargaining successfully at flea markets. Practical tips on living with and displaying collections are invaluable. [Note: I’ve implemented several suggestions with happy results!-LD] The warmly personable tone of Richter’s writing makes a persuasive case for bringing joy to life by keeping the past within sight—and reach. Breakfasting on colorful 1940s dishware gives a cheery start to any day.

Happy Holiday Hunting Grounds

With funky finds, distinctive gifts, and retro decorations, antique malls offer nostalgic retail therapy. Multi-vendor operations listed here offer convenient hours, and because—unlike flea markets—individual merchants are not on site, price-as-marked goods provide a haggle-free shopping environment.

This expansive Marketplace morphed from a flea market into a comfortable indoor destination with 130-plus vendors showcasing wares in more than 200 spaces. A broad spectrum of vintage goods encompasses fine and primitive furniture (19th century and older, from chests to grain bins), glass and dishware, pre-1960s collectibles, and most everything in between. General Manager Janice Ortiz notes that browsing online can’t compare with first-person interaction. “People consider ‘antiquing’ a day out,” she says. “They’ll go to 3 or 4 places in a day.” Knowledgeable employees include several licensed appraisers. By mid-November, an event space that hosts themed collector shows will brim with Christmas giftware, crafts, and décor items. In spring, a major expansion brings 8 retail stores, a farmers market with fresh and prepared foods, and an indoor-outdoor beer garden to the ever-evolving Marketplace.
8281 Route 873, Slatington, 610.766.7495 theslatingtonmarketplace.com

With 168 vendors constantly stocking and refreshing period inventory in more than 200 spaces, there’s always something “new” to quicken a collector’s pulse. “It’s treasure hunting,” says Melissa Weigner, daughter of owners Rudy and Maritza Lopez, who founded the business in 1995. “People come in with something in mind, and leave with something entirely different.” However, staff members with varied areas of expertise, such as vintage clothing and jewelry or country primitives, are available to assist or keep an eye out for requests. Displays range from “vignette style” to “rummage style,” ideal for those who like to “dig in”—especially in a clean, climate-controlled environment. Good quality furniture—rustic farmhouse to mid-century modern—kitchenwares, toys, old-timey signage and more await discovery. During a 3-day Black Friday Weekend Sale, frequent gift certificate raffles will include a $500-value grand prize.
7567 Chestnut St., Zionsville, 610.965.3292 zionsvilleantiques.com


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