Midsummer Antique and Vintage Show

It’s hard to believe we’re already almost through August, but before summer ends I wanted to offer some thoughts and coverage of the Midsummer Antique and Vintage Show in Orillia, Ontario. The show was on July 26th – one day only – and it was the fist annual show in this location from Gadsden promotions. From what I saw, this is a show that should be back for years to come. I certainly enjoyed my walk around the grounds.

The Midsummer Antique Show in Orillia

Orillia Ontario is a few hours north of Toronto and the drive is pretty easy (and scenic) along the highways. The show was at the Orillia Fairgrounds, and we pulled up to the show field at around 11:00am.  There was tonnes of field parking, rows of outdoor booths, an open area for the food trucks, and a building with more dealers, a snack bar, and washrooms. All in all, the show was a nice manageable size with around 70 dealers. There weren’t many places to sit, but the building and tents did offer a reprieve from the sun. There was a lot of space between aisles and sections so you could move at your own pace.


When we arrived in the late morning there was a busy feel to the place. Lots of people walking the aisles and having those intense, quiet conversations about potential purchases. I can’t walk onto a field show without getting flashbacks from my childhood. I remember driving out with my parents while the sun was still down, arriving at a field still damp with dew, setting up, and starting a long and often very hot day. I wasn’t buying or selling in those days, of course, but I know from experience that these shows are hard work. It’s always gratifying to see crowds and know the sellers have a good chance at sales.



As far as stock was concerned, the Orillia show had a fair selection of large furniture, primitives and art, with more selection in vintage collectibles, antique smalls, and textiles. The quality was solid across all stock types. It was a good mix for the general antique or vintage enthusiast. Some dealers were very specialized so you could find, say, a booth full of pressed glass or postcards, but most dealers had mixed offerings in their particular style. If you were looking for something to catch your eye, you could probably find it on that field.




Hello handsome!

So after all that, did I find something to buy? You bet! I actually found too much to buy. I have a soft spot for vintage McCoy planters and I found multiple dealers with McCoy I just had to bring home. There were also a few antique smalls (including a set of lawn bowling bowls for Anson), but our most exciting purchase was a metal table with four chairs. We have a small backyard so we can’t do large outdoor furniture. We both really liked the size and the style of the set on first look. I was immediately drawn to curved legs, and I liked that the metal would be easy to maintain and store over the winter. All in all, I think it’s quite a charming little set and I’m happy we pulled the trigger on a more expensive purchase. I’m also very happy that the show organizers provided someone to move the table and load it into our Nissan Versa. Very appreciated help!

Our new backyard set! Love those curved legs and pedestal :)

Our new backyard set!

The Midsummer show was a success for me as a buyer, and for me as a Canadian looking to spend a precious summer day outside. You can’t beat looking at interesting items under sunny skies (bring a hat though, that sun is hot). I hope we can make the trip up to Orillia next year. This is a great addition to the summer show calendar.

Celebrate Canada with Canadian Antiques

It’s July 1st, and that means it’s Canada Day! This year Canada turns 148 and I wanted to mark the occasion by featuring a few pieces of Canada’s material heritage. On Collectivator the sellers regularly post fantastic pieces of antique Canadian furniture, smalls, and art. These unique items provide a glimpse into the lives and culture of early Canadians. There are so many items I could use, but these are four that caught my eye (links in title go to original posts on Collectivator). I think these items are beautiful as well as historically interesting, and perfect for a day when we celebrate our country’s past.


Antique Cradle from Nova Scotia – It seems appropriate to celebrate a birthday with a cradle. We have a few on Collectivator (both for babies and for dolls) but this one is my pick because of the beautiful original green paint outside, and the robin’s egg blue interior. That is just a gorgeous colour combination, and reminds me of the ocean (fitting a maritime item). It actually predates confederation with the seller dating it to 1830. It is a simple piece but one that perfectly encapsulates the union of form and function in an item common to Canada’s early homes.


Fraktur by Mennonite Folk Artist Anna Weber – This beautiful piece of artwork is a Fraktur; a Pennsylvania German art form that combines calligraphic and pictorial elements to decorate religious and family documents. Frakturs were often made as gifts for friends and family in Mennonite households. This particular Fraktur is by artist Anna Weber from Waterloo County, Ontario. Anna Weber was known for her strong visual elements and use of motifs like the tree of life, birds and flowers. This Fraktur is dated 1873, and is signed by the artist.

Mi’kmaq Fishing Creel – This antique fishing creel made by the Mi’kmaq people of Eastern Canada is a good example of traditional methods and developed technique. Aboriginal antiques come in many forms, but I wanted to highlight this utilitarian item specifically because it is also a work of art. I admire useful items that are finely made with such aesthetic consideration. Although not as decorated as many Aboriginal antiques, this 100 year old fishing creel nonetheless reflects the distinct culture and life of its makers.


Wall Box Dated 1908 – Wall shelves or boxes are somewhat common in Canadian antiques. Much like the square versions of today, these boxes would hang on the wall and serve to display special items or keep little things organized. No matter how small the house, a homeowner could always find room for a wall box. What makes this one so great is the hand carved “1908” date, and the photograph of two stylish young men. It’s not a selfie, but the photograph proves that even people at the turn of the century wanted to look cool.

History is often best understood through the lives of everyday people. One of my favourite things about working on Collectivator is learning about Canadian history through the items that people post. I’m always being introduced to something new (ironically, with something old). I hope you enjoyed a little bit of Canadian history today and Happy Canada Day!

Happy Canada Day from Collectivator

The Old Book and Paper Show

On Sunday, March 29th I had the pleasure of attending The Old Book & Paper Show. Billed as Toronto’s biggest one day “vintage print-fest”, this show is dedicated exclusively to books, postcards, posters, photographs and all types of old ephemera. It takes place twice a year (March and November) in an interesting part of the city along St. Clair west.

Artscape Wychwood Barns

The show is set up in a long hallway in the Wychwood Barns building (originally a streetcar repair barn from the 1910s). Tall ceilings and bright windows flood the space with light. We arrived about a half hour after the show opened at 10am, and the room was packed. If there is something in particular you are looking for, you should get there early. One seller told me the serious collectors wait outside to enter as soon as the doors open. If you’re more of a curious looky-loo, you might find it easier to browse a little later when the crowd dies down.

Interior Artscape Wychwood Barns

When we first entered I didn’t think it would take too long to see all the booths but we ended up staying for almost three hours. What I didn’t realize was just how many individual items were crammed into every square inch of space! Vintage advertisements, postcards and magazines filled file boxes. These were often organized by topic but once you started it was easy to keep flipping through. Then there were the art prints and large format photographs ready for framing. Historical images of Toronto, Canada and the world. Postcards of tropical paradises. Vintage fashion magazines and pulp fiction novels. Rare and valuable first edition books alongside travel brochures, sports cards and comics. The show is very well named because literally everything old and paper was represented.

Interior Wychwood Barns

Vintage paper ephemera

Boxes of vintage postcards

Antique and vintage photographs

As you may expect in a professional show like this, the dealers had their specialties and knew their stock. If you had a specific item you were looking for they could always help. If you were just interested in a topic or time period they could also steer you in the right direction. Most were also willing to cut a price on multiple purchases, and I found the prices on the whole quite reasonable.

A booth at the show
Being the nerd that I am, I made a bee line to some boxes of mid century “Amazing Stories” and sci-fi pulp. I was just as interested in these books for their kitchy covers as for the stories. $5 bought me a paperback with a title story called “The Girl Who Hated Air”. Not a very promising read, but I think the astronaut cover is worth the money. I also spent time at the postcard sellers finding some more cheerful Alfred Mainzer cat postcards.

Vintage sci-fi pulp

Booth with magazines

Anson found a few sets of small black and white photos of Niagara Falls and Stanley Park in Vancouver. These little sets were sold to tourists in the 1940s and 1950s as additional photos to use in home albums. They were sort of the precursor to the postcard books you can buy today, but higher quality. The photos are crisp and clear and often well composed. They are quite charming and historical mementos of Canada’s natural beauty.

Vintage tourist photos of Stanley Park

Our purchses from the show

In the end we had a bag full of curiosities, books, photographs and postcards. I doubt we spent over $100 but we found some great little gems that will find a place in our home. I saw many serious collectors at the show, but not too many younger casual buyers. This is a shame. Gift stores sell reproduction images that cash in on the vintage charm of old ads, or the artistic appeal of black and white photography. Here was a place to buy all of that, and more, in an authentic form. There was also a great selection of books on specific and hard to find topics in art, music and history. From high brow to low brow, and all the prices between the two, there was truly something for everyone. I look forward to visiting the show again in the fall.


Graceland Living RoomI’ve been back in Toronto for a while now, but I still had to share the photos and impressions I got from visiting Graceland. Yes – Memphis Tennessee, home of Elvis Presley Graceland. I’m not going to discuss his music, his legend, or his death. I just want to talk about his house and specifically the interior design. Graceland is like a 1970s fever dream of shag carpet, monkey statues and indoor waterfalls. I loved it.

Elvis (along with his girlfriends and family) really went for it in home decor. They had money to spend and they spent it. Ridiculously. But even with the white carpets and mirrored walls there is a coziness to Graceland. There’s hospitality in Graceland, and there is definitely fun in Graceland. You can imagine a little Lisa Marie running down the stairs to the basement rec room, or out to the stables to ride her pony. It’s a slice of perfectly preserved American dream circa 1977. If you are interested in vintage decor or kitsch and you find yourself in Tennessee you need to visit.

Let’s take a look!

GLext1The exterior.  Very symmetrical and pleasant. Looks like a dollhouse. Note the smaller size of the home. It’s a mansion, sure, but not a monster home like so many nowadays. There is a charming scale to the interior you might not expect.

Graceland living roomThe first room to the right of the front door is the living room (also pictured at the top of this post with those amazing peacock windows). This couch was something like twelve feet long. White shag carpet, white couch, white TV. This wasn’t the place you plopped down with a glass of red wine. This was fancy guest space. Of all the rooms I saw in Graceland this was the most dramatic and feminine. It was completely impractical and I liked it.

Graceland dining roomThere were a lot of “antiqued” mirrors in Graceland, like the dining room table surface. Patterned mirrors are actually making a comeback. Elvis remains a trend setter!

Graceland KitchenThe Graceland kitchen. As I said in my post about this fabulous vintage design book, you can tell that people did drugs in the 1970s because they put carpeting in their kitchens. Fun fact – the kitchen wasn’t open to the public until 1995, because the last resident of Graceland, Elvis’ aunt Delta, used it until her death in 1993.

Graceland basement rec roomThe basement TV room. All yellow and black and white. The lightening bolt was a symbol Elvis loved and used late in his career. The monkey statue was unexplained but obviously horrifying. Anyone need a pillow?

GLrr2The other side of the TV room showcasing three TVs so Elvis could watch all three (at the time) national networks. And no, this is not where Elvis pulled out a gun and shot out a TV because it had Robert Goulet on it. That happened in Vegas (of course). Not pictured is a wet bar on the other side of the room decorated with Murano glass clowns.

Graceland pool roomThe Billiards room! I swear my camera could not focus properly on this room. It could be because the furniture was wearing wall camouflage.

GLptr1Why did we ever stop doing this to our ceilings? My flat white ceiling looks so boring now.

GLportrait2Why hello hot young Elvis. I like the mirror cutout (notice the “antiqued” effect) that follows the line of the staircase. I love the pirate shirt.

GLjr3Do you like Tiki? Do you like wood tones mixed with darker wood tones? Then let me introduce you to the FABULOUS Jungle Room. This is what I’m going to be aiming for as I collect my tiki stuff. One day I’ll get there.

GLcouchjrThe term “lurid kitch” gets thrown around so often, it starts to lose meaning. Then you see a Polynesian inspired, fake fur covered couch with dragon arms and you understand.

GLjr1That brick wall with the red light? Fountain. That green shag carpet? All over the ceiling. What’s under the window just out of frame? More monkey statues. Apparently this room was decorated by Elvis after an “epic shopping spree”. VERY EPIC.

GLext2Back outside. The stables and rolling hills were behind me and this was the view of the back of the house. Graceland had won us over. By this point my husband and I felt our three hour drive from Nashville was worth it. Later we would go the the historic Sun Studio and be even happier we made the trip. Don’t miss either destination if you’re in Memphis.

There is a lot more to Graceland I didn’t cover. A few random photos:



To paraphrase the Paul Simon song, for reasons I can’t explain there was some part of me that wanted to see Graceland. And I am very happy I did.

An inspiring visit


I had to share this great post from shadflyguy. It’s about a very fine antique chair and a very driven ninety year old collector. What an inspirational encounter! Follow shadflyguy for more real stories from over thirty years in the antique business.

Originally posted on shadflyguy:

windchairOver the past few weeks of summer I have been encouraged by the number of younger people coming into the shop and not only having a look around but on some occasions making what appears to be there first serious antique purchase. The other day a couple who seemed just short of thirty came by, and I was surprised when the fellow said to his partner This is one of those tramp art boxes I have been talking about”,   Then he went on to give a pretty good summary of the genre.(look it up) Even better, he bought it.

But this story is about another type of encouragement, and a big reason why I continue in this business after arguably being a full time antique dealer for thirty years may seem punishment enough for most people. 

Last week I received a phone call on this continuous arm Windsor…

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Vintage and Antique Shopping in Nashville

Before I get into my post, indulge me for a minute so I can describe where I am. Here, let me give you a visual:


This is the view from the balcony of my room at the huge “Gaylord Opryland” hotel in Nashville. For most of our trip we were at a rented condo, but this week my husband has a conference so we got a free room here. It’s pretty ridiculous. There are three large atriums with full size trees, waterfalls, restaurants, shops… all under glass domes and surrounded by hotel room balconies. I have a two story waterfall right below me, which I love because it provides the greatest white noise. I feel like I’m outside, in a garden, without heat or bugs. Talk about ideal writing conditions! I could get used to this.

Anyway, before I found myself writing in a fantasy tropical paradise, I was hitting the streets of Nashville looking for antiques. I didn’t get to see a lot, but I did visit the 8th Ave. South area. This is considered one of the main Antique districts in the city. The first place I looked, Classic Modern, was also one of my favourites. It had a great selection of vintage (1950s – 1970s) furniture and accessories, as well as antiques from the 19th century, jewelry and folk art. They had quite a few complete sets of furniture – a full 1950s chrome kitchen table set, or a 1960s couch and chairs for instance. Very cool. Prices were reasonable for the quality of the items. I also talked to the owner and a fellow patron for quite a while – real friendly people around here!



The second place I visited was “Pre to Post Modern”. I liked the signage out front because it reminded me of Pee-Wee’s Playhouse. It said something like “Come inside! It’s fun in here!” on the clapboard, and you can’t resist that.




It was fun inside! They had a well curated selection of mid century accessories, advertising, clothes, decor and even some furniture. Everything was organized in themes so the clothes, hats and purses were together in a room, there was a rec room with albums and posters, the tiki stuff got its own corner etc. Very fun to browse. The best part was the prices! I was looking at smalls, but even the furniture was affordable. I wish I could have schlepped home one of their bar carts, but as it was I took three tiki mugs for a grand total of $12. If I lived in the area I would be popping in all the time.

Finally, the last place I visited was a good old fashioned antique “mall”. This one was called 8th Ave Antiques. The booths were a bit spotty in terms of age and quality, but I did find more antique furniture, china and art here. Some dealers had recognizable interests like pop culture memorabilia, kitchenware, or country furniture. Others were seemingly random with antique, vintage or even new and reproduction items. I didn’t see anything I had to buy (and pack – a deterrent for sure). Still, there was enough selection that if I were in the area I would gladly try again.




Although I didn’t see everything the area has to offer (I missed a whole antique mall further up the road!), I enjoyed my antique and vintage shopping on 8th street in Nashville. There was a lot of mid century to 1970s decor, country smalls, and fun kitsch. Antiques (as in pieces over 100 years old) were harder to find but there were some good examples. Prices were overall lower than in Toronto, especially for the mid century modern stuff. Let me put it this way – shopping at even these three stores I’d have no problems outfitting a fabulous vintage rec room. Now I just need to get some bigger luggage!

Peacock Alley: Vintage Chenille Bedspreads


I’ve always loved the pretty, cheerful charm of vintage chenille bedspreads, but I didn’t know the history. This blog gave me new appreciation for the classic style, and the work that went into these handmade textiles. I found it fascinating!

Originally posted on topdrawerlinens:

Do you love vintage chenille bedspreads? I am in awe every time I find one – they are a rare and disappearing part of American history — it is incredible we can still lay our hands on them at all.

cabin crafts setscotty dog chenille hand tufted

You have probably read the story many times of Catherine Evans, the young girl who started the industry, but if not, here it is in brief (and there is so much more!):

Catherine Evans (later, Catherine Evans Whitener) was from Reo, Georgia. She was 12 years old in 1892 when visiting a relative and saw a beautiful hand stitched cover on their bed she loved. Determined to make one for herself, she designed one of her own using a form of candlewicking[1] and tufting[2]. She gave one of first spreads to her brother as a wedding gift in 1900. Soon she had requests to make them for…

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The Nashville Flea Market

IMG_4841Howdy y’all! I’m in Nashville, Tennessee! We came to town for a wedding and a conference, and with a week in-between the two events we decided to rent a place and live like the locals. It’s been great! The weather is hot, the people are friendly, and the boots are cowboy. As part of my work I’ve been checking out the local antique and vintage scene. I thought I’d share my experiences this week as I tour Music City, USA.

My first adventure was at the HUGE Nashville Flea Market. Held at the Tennessee state fairgrounds, this sale has been voted best flea market in the state, and considered one of the top ten in the Southern US. I can believe it. The market is usually held on the fourth Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of each month, although it sometimes shifts for holidays. You can find all the dates and information on the Fairgrounds website.


I saw an ad for the flea market in a tourist map and, having a Sunday free, my husband and I thought we might check it out for a few hours. Oh silly Canadians. This is not a place you casually “pop into” for a quick look. This is building after building after shed after outdoor aisle full of stuff. You could go every day of the weekend and not see everything. The market, after all, boasts over 1,200 sellers!



Most of the antique and vintage booths were outside, which coincidentally was SCORCHING HOT and reminded me of last year’s trip to Antique World. There’s something about the hottest day of the summer that makes me want to walk around for hours I guess. Although we didn’t realize it until the end, the highest concentration of antique and vintage dealers were in an outdoor section marked “Antique Alley” , as well as the nearby “sheds” (which are actually repurposed animal stalls).



One thing I find interesting is seeing how the general selection of antiques changes to reflect the history of each place I visit. At the flea market I noticed a lot of advertising for local Nashville businesses and classic US brands. Vintage furniture was more abundant than I’ve seen in Canada. There were antique toys, cowboy hats and boots, civil war memorabilia, and collectibles relating to country music. I didn’t see a lot of paper artwork or antique clothing but I did see a few sellers of cow hide. One seller explained that it’s very difficult to find antique and vintage textiles from the area, as the heat and humidity often damages these pieces over time.



There was a lot of inexpensive vintage costume jewellery. Perfect for crafty types to restore or reuse!

Of course, the antiques and vintage were just part of the flea market. There were also buildings (sweet, air conditioned buildings!) with new “as seen on TV” type products, 1980s toys, home decor, and just plain junk. There were definitely trends in the reproductions for sale – lots of rusty licence plates, American flags and hand painted “RC Cola” tin signs. And classic flea market stuff? Oh my. If you wanted cheap fashion accessories, jumbo packs of socks or slightly expired toiletries than this was the jackpot.


One giant box was nothing but gum in weird, probably discontinued flavours. I was strangely tempted.



If you decide to visit the Nashville flea market, I have a few words of advice. Number one, wear comfortable shoes. Most of the “sheds” and outdoor spaces are on uneven dirt. You will probably stumble. Also, there isn’t a lot of seating. Food options are a few trucks and one restaurant that sells fried foods at decent prices, and cold beer to boot. If it’s summer, wear a hat and carry water. Parking costs $5 and there is no admission charge.



One of the “sheds”. There were 4 or 5 of them filled with booths.


In the end we did buy a few small items to take home, but I will cover them in a bit more detail later. I’m very happy to have had the Nashville flea market experience, and I would definitely recommend it. It was a great introduction to what I hope the area has to offer!

A Brief History of Tiki

Vintage Postcard of Don the Beachcomber's

Summer is in full swing around here (you’re ignoring those “back to school” commercials right? Good). The tropical climate always makes me think of the bamboo bars and Polynesian themed decor of Tiki. Tiki today is sometimes confused with inflatable palm trees and plastic coconuts, but this is not real Tiki. Real Tiki isn’t plastic, and real Tiki is vintage. Technically a sub-set of the Modernest movement (lasting from the 1930s to the 1970s), Tiki was more than a style – it was a uniquely American pop culture form. It can be found in food, clothing, music and architecture of the mid 20th century. Tiki has a history, and it can be serious stuff for the vintage collector.

Tiki culture as we know it began in 1934 with the opening of Don the Beachcomber, a Polynesian-themed bar and restaurant in Hollywood (that’s a postcard image of the dining room above). A world traveller, Don took elements of real South Pacific locations – Tiki statues, lush tropical vegetation, bamboo furniture – and created a fantasy of simplified tropical splendour. It was not authentic of any one place or society, so it became known as “Tiki”. Three years later, Victor Bergeron, better known as Trader Vic, adopted a similar Tiki theme for his restaurant in Oakland California. Born of the restaurant industry, Tiki was originally symbolized by dark wood toned decor, Asian (usually Cantonese) inspired food and an escalating competition for extravagant rum based drinks.


Tiki culture spread inland from California and was fuelled by an interest in travel. When soldiers returned home from WW II, they brought stories and souvenirs from the South Pacific. In the 1940s and 1950s, the expanding middle class could afford trips to far away destinations. For the first time, suburbanites were looking at places like Tahiti and planning their next vacation under the sun. Popular books and movies of the time featured exotic beaches and locations. Even the possibility of Hawaiian statehood drove interest in the tropical lifestyle, and Americans fell in love with their romanticized version of a “Tiki” culture.

Thus Tiki was more than masks and rattan furniture; it was a byproduct of American wealth and growth in the mid twentieth century. At its height of popularity, Tiki architectural form (A line roofs, wood panelling, interior gardens) cropped up on all types of buildings – churches, shops, hotels, even tract row housing. Is it any wonder that once Hawaii did finally become a state in 1959 Tiki had begun to wear out its welcome? As is always the case, kids didn’t appreciate the same “square” things their parents enjoyed. Tiki began to be seen as a symbol of decadence and cultural ignorance. As the 1960s progressed the younger generation rejected Tiki and by the 1980s almost all the biggest and best examples of Tiki style had been replaced.


We are currently experiencing a resurgence of Tiki culture, thanks in part to our interest (finally!) in fancy cocktails, but it begs the question: What does Tiki mean now? Tiki was always a form of cultural appropriation. A real “tiki” for instance, is a type of wooden carving representing the first man. The Maori used tiki statues to mark sacred land. Tiki culture used those same forms to hold fruity drinks. Tiki was an invention to bring in business, without deep understanding of the societies it represented. On the other hand, Tiki was also always a fantasy. It was a hodge-podge of influences, put together to resemble a tropical dream. I’m not an expert (I wasn’t even born until after Tiki stopped being cool) but it’s easy to believe that in the confines of 1950s America people wanted an escape. Not everyone could afford to travel, but most could afford a Singapore Sling in a bamboo covered bar. It was a version of paradise everyone could reach, and it still is today. It’s up to you, but I prefer to remember and enjoy Tiki in this context.

I’m new to collecting, but here are some of the pieces in my vintage Tiki barware:


photo 2-1

If you want to put a little Tiki into your home, you can easily start small. Vintage tiki barware, artwork and postcards can be found online and in shops. Tiki mugs (ceramic and sometimes branded like mine from the “Hawaiin Inn”) were often sold as souvenirs and are probably the most popular type of Tiki collectible. If you want to enjoy the full Tiki experience, Tiki bars are popping up once again in urban centres, including here in Toronto. While some complain that the modern revival of Tiki isn’t “primitive” enough, I personally don’t mind a little glamour with my Mai Tais. For me, Tiki is about being in a fantasy tropical paradise, even if it’s the middle of winter and there’s no beach in sight. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to play some Yma Sumac, mix up something with rum, and pretend my backyard is a white sand beach.

As an amateur fan of Tiki, I found the following sites really helpful:

Tiki Central – Forums with everything Tiki. These people know A LOT about tiki culture.
Modernist Architecture: Tiki Modern
– Amazing photographs of Tiki architecture.
Tiki Culture – Well written dissection of Tiki culture in the past and today. Also has a handy “this is NOT Tiki” list.
Behind the Scenes at the Enchanted Tiki Room (youtube video) – A short behind the scenes look at the room of computers needed to make those audio-animatronic birds sing, shot when the attraction first opened. One guy in the comments section calls the Tiki Room an “insidious early 60s nightmare”, so there’s also that.

The Collectivator Upgrade is Here!

I’m back! Greetings friends! First I want to say I’m sorry I dropped off the face of the Earth. I missed writing this blog and I never intended to be away from it for so long. I got swept up in an exciting project and I knew I couldn’t write until I was done…

The Collectivator upgrade is here! It’s finally here! After nearly a year of discussions, plans, timelines, testing, feedback, bug fixing, and giant leaps of faith, we are finally here. None of this would have been possible without a Toronto based company called Qaribou, and the amazing talents of developer Joshua Koudys. I am so excited about this new chapter in our enterprise. We rebuilt Collectivator from the ground up, and I can honestly say it has been one of the most challenging and rewarding projects of my working life.

I invite you to visit Collectivator, and click around to see what all this fuss is about. Just gaze upon the loveliness of our shiny new homepage:

The fabulous new face of Collectivator!
So what’s the big deal about a website redesign? Everything. Literally everything. We completely changed not only the design, but the back-end CMS (content management system) that supports all the new functions. Josh wrote code for new interfaces, new posting procedure, new search… there was basically no part of Collectivator we didn’t take apart and put back together. Designer Denise Pinto made us look oh so cool with a bright, coherent theme that expertly showcases the items. One huge improvement is our touch-based mobile support. We finally look good on a tablet! Swiping through thumbnails feels natural, and it definitely makes browsing antiques more fun.

I’m not going to bore you with details about every little thing we’ve done (explore and find out for yourself!). But to give an idea of the hours put into this upgrade here are some notes I still had lying around my desk. Yes, I have a computer, and yes, I still write everything down like it’s the turn of the last century:


Who needs emails when you can write large format, rambling notes? Developers love ’em!

Diagrams of possible webpages, notes from feedback, and my own pearls of wisdom like “maybe less white space but still have some?”, “people are circles, items are squares” and “I like dots”. In the end a lot of it was changed, or rejected, but the big vision was realized. Again, I am so grateful for the people who helped get us here.

As we begin a new phase at Collectivator, I look back with pride on our original concept and design. Eight years ago my husband Anson Chan originally created the site for my dad, Phillip Ross. The three of us working together honed our system through concept, design and good old trial and error. The bedrock of the site has always been quality stock and it continues to this day. We’ve been able to attract some of the best antique dealers around who are experts in their fields. We’ve had encouragement from established collectors, and random strangers on the street. We’ve been able to grow a professional solution for one antique dealer into a vibrant selling platform for many. The most important thing I want to say is thank you. Thank you to everyone who visits the site, and everyone who has joined us on our journey to becoming an antiques and vintage destination.

The new tagline for Collectivator is “Seeking the Authentic” and that’s what I am committed to do. Real antiques, real art, real vintage. I want to make Collectivator a vibrant community not only for selling, but for education and encouragement – especially for new collectors. It’s exciting to think about what is possible now! If I had to encapsulate all our work into one image (having used the exciting pile of papers image already), I think it would be this screenshot from one of our many meetings:


That’s Josh in front, Anson and I in the little boxes, and Josh’s cat Sebastian performing a classic photo bomb. Every meeting should be interrupted by adorable cats.

I welcome your comments! Thanks for reading this self-congratulatory post about my business (next time I’ll get back to cool old stuff I promise). Cheers!