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  • Debra Palmen

Things are going swimmingly (mostly)

Updated: Aug 26, 2022

Things are going swimmingly in the pop-up shop. I've included some random shots here to show you a tiny bit of what we're offering. But the magnitude of the unpack has hit home, and I don’t think I’ll be even close to getting it all out by the end of January. So I’m thinking about extending our time here until the end of February. I don’t want to but, as Doug says, that’s what I get for buying 1.5 tonnes of stuff. I promise to be better behaved next buying trip.

No I don’t! Who am I kidding? I’ll go nuts buying lots of lovely things next time, just as I do every time, and then I’ll complain about having to unpack it. And then I’ll do it again, and again, until I’ve learned to not shop so much. It might take a few more trips to Paris until that lesson really sinks in.

There hasn’t been a single badly behaved person in the shop ever since I blogged on the last motley crew. Come on, people! Up your game! Give me something to complain about (other than unpacking). But we did apparently have a couple of celebrities in yesterday, buying up a treat.

"Oh My God" another customer whispered to me when the boys stepped outside to examine the stock I’m displaying in the arcade. "That’s Wozza and Gazza!"

Or was it Dazza and Bazza? I can’t remember what she called them, but she was very excited and bolted outside to get a selfie with them.

Apparently they were on some Big Bash Competitive Decorating television show, and are now professional interior decorators. I sell many things to interior decorators, but I think these were the first called Wozza and Gazza (or Mazza and Razza, or whatever). They seemed nice, and picked a good range of unusual things to cart back to Melbourne.

There’s been a rash of people from Melbourne lately. And many of them are buying buckets. Don’t ask me why, but our colourful enamel buckets are being carried as hand-luggage on flights back to Melbourne a lot. But there is The Rule when you buy a bucket from me. No-one has ever broken The Rule. Man, woman or child, everyone is expected to obey The Rule, and everyone does.

The Rule is this: when you buy a bucket from me, as you leave my shop you must skip. It’s keeping alive the tradition of French girls skipping along country lanes with their buckets. It’s true, I tell you! And anyway, it’s The Rule. Don’t like The Rule, don’t buy a bucket. But everyone obeys The Rule, everyone skips, and everyone smiles and laughs as they leave my shop.

Except for one cranky lady, who today boasted to me that ha! she had not skipped as she left the shop with her bucket, she had only pretended to. As you know I don’t name names, but you know who you are Anne Shepherd. I expect you to return to my shop quick smart and start skipping until I am satisfied with your bounciness. And that will take a while.

Meanwhile, we’re thinking about selling the business. In just the last week we’ve had a few people express an interest in taking it over, including a very enthusiastic young lady yesterday. It helps that after five years in a full-time retail shop this is now our 5th pop-up shop and we’re still going strong, so we can demonstrate that obviously we’re doing something right. I’ve been selling quite a few books lately – almost always to women, which is interesting – and most of them have told me how much they’d love to have my lifestyle. And they can have it, if they want.

Nothing is guaranteed in life, mistakes will be made, but if you sit on your bottom and never try something, how will you ever succeed at anything? And despite what numerous friends think, this is a job. It’s a fun job, I grant you but it's also hard work. It’s a job that forces us to go to Paris every year and eat too many baguettes with rich, creamy cheese or madeleines with hot chocolate. It forces us to traipse around England sometimes in the early morning rain and cold to get a lot of shopping done before we’re allowed to find a pub and settle down in front of a roaring log fire.

Pack days are just plain tedious, there’s no pretending otherwise. Unless there’s a Star Trek marathon on’t telly, which you can have on in the background as you apply yourself to get all the wrapping and packing done.

For the most part, though, this is a really fun lifestyle. Read my Newsletters from the last buying trip, if you’ve the time and inclination, and you’ll see why we do this. So perhaps someone else will decide it’s for them as well, and we’ll sell French & Vintage and move on. I have a new business name already approved by Doug, although no branding yet. I’ll get to that if and when I need to. Otherwise, we’ll keep on keeping on as we are.

Finally, if you’re at all interested in antiques and vintage wares, you might be familiar with the magazine Antiques & Collectables For Pleasure & Profit. I write feature articles for this magazine, and the latest edition includes an excerpt from the Morocco chapter of my book. I’m just now writing a longish article for them on antiques shopping in Jerusalem – which you already know all about if you read my Newsletters – and I think they’re running my feature on either the Social History & Collectables of Fortune Telling, or the Social History & Collectables of Dogs in the next edition.

The point of telling you this is that for January only Antiques & Collectables For Pleasure & Profit is running a special promotion. You can buy the Australian Antiques, Collectables, Vintage & Retro Price Guide and get my book for free.

If you already have my book, you can select a Miller’s Guide for free (Miller’s being the biggest name in English antiques publishing), or one or two other titles. You can obtain this special by going to I’ve found this address only works when I access it using Chrome or Firefox, rather than Explorer, but maybe that’s just my machine.

More soon.

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