*This is Part Two of my blogs about my former antique shop, Circa, in Santa Barbara, California. If you have not read part one, click HERE.… You need the back story…
Shopping for merchandise for our antique store, Circa, was very very difficult… mainly because I loved it all so much I didn’t want to sell it. My mother and I had a pact, like I mentioned in a previous blog, we would only buy that which we loved. Maybe that wasn’t such a good idea.
We sourced our merchandise from all over the world… France, Spain, Italy, New York, Morocco, Atlanta, Los Angeles… You name it, we were there. With absolute pride, every piece (almost) went into our shop.
My mother had to tell me that I had too many NFS (not for sale) tags on too many things. But how could I sell that 18th-century statue of the woman in that dress! How could I sell that? How could I sell that plaster frieze? How could I sell that painting of the man with the easel ( I didn’t, I’m looking at it right now in my living room in Paris.). It was torture watching some of my favorites leave the shop. I have a little secret… Sometimes I was very naughty. Sometimes, if someone asked me the price of my very favorite piece I would either tell them that it wasn’t for sale or that it was $5 million dollars. That ought to deter them.
We both were obsessed with accessories. Sconces, chinoiserie boxes, tole trays, coffee table books, vases, candlesticks, blue-and-white anything, picture frames, Anichini hand towels, paintings, sculptures, busts, garden urns, tablecloths, Faberge boxes, jardinières… Total obsession. There were so many different types of accessories in our shop but somehow they all went together perfectly. When you buy what you love, it all works.
We did have one little accessory that was extra extra special. A woman in Paris was offering her entire collection of gold hearts. Why is that so special, you ask? The hearts are called ex voto which means in Latin “from the vow made.” These little hearts /sacre coeurs were used as religious offerings to a saint or deity as gratitude on little hand written notes inside. The ones that I bought have a little French prayer on the front,
“Lisez, O Notre Dame
Dans le coeur que voici
L'espoir de mon âme
Son amour aussi.”
I bought all of the hearts… And kept most of them… Giving them as gifts to my friends. Yolanda still keeps hers on her bedside table.
There are a few things that I wish I never sold… My white taxidermy peacock named Ursula, the set of four black leather chairs with gold detailing from the 1920s, a Jacques Garcia black lacquered clover table, a marble and iron industrial table, every lamp we’ve ever had, every Fortuny pillow, every statue… I basically wish I never sold one thing.
Do you want to know something interesting? My best sales were before 10 o’clock in the morning before the store opened. I would go to the shop after I dropped little Gracie off at school at about 8:30 in the morning. Our shop was on a street that was great for early morning walking with a Starbucks latte after the farmer's market. My mother and I made sure that our windows stopped the early morning walkers in their tracks. Our windows were huge so you could see the entire first level of the store from the outside. Without fail, the people who had their faces pressed to our windows could see that I was inside at my desk… Tap tap tap. Something you might not know about me? I’m actually overly polite and I would never ever just sit at my desk and not open the doors early for customers. (Some shop owners do that and I think it’s so rude.) The good news is that these early morning openings resulted in some of my best sales. My favorite early-morning sale was to an older gentleman (he told me he was 82 years old), very refined, who bought my beloved 18th-century statue of a woman draped in a beautiful gown/robe. It was a gift for his wife for Valentine’s Day. How sweet!
I wish I had better and more pictures to show you but they are all packed away in my storage in Los Angeles. Let’s take a look at what I do have…
I have a little surprise for all of you regarding Circa as well! Stay tuned for the next blog…