- story and photos by Martha Whitney Butler
Couples frequent the antique shops around town. Some do this as a hobby together, and sometimes one partner is less than willing to be hauled around on a shopping spree. Men toting bags for women is a common sight, and men sitting on benches in front of shops with bored looks on their faces is even more common. But when the heat starts to get to them, they venture inside only to find that they will be the partner being dragged out of the shop.
With Cruisin' the Coast around the corner, we all know to stock up on certain items geared toward a manly demographic. You'll start to see metal signs, industrial pieces, and car parts. The whole ballgame changes for us.
The most common item that men purchase in my shop has to be old license plates. I could sell them all day. Whether they're putting them on hot rods or hanging them in man caves, I know they're a guaranteed sale. Architectural salvage such as door knobs, handles, and faucets are another hot item. With all the restoration going on in this area, the prevalent DIYer finds himself in my shop buying parts to restore or repair household items – the ultimate man boost. Nautical items such as paddles, portholes, and buoys make excellent man cave decor. One of my male customers buys broken paddles because his grandfather had a collection of them. Every time I get one in, I set it aside for him. I love his enthusiasm for collecting so much that I even let go a special pair of my own wooden paddles so he could add them to the rest.
Now of course we sell a LOT of pin-up related items. I have two customers that I call immediately when I get a Vargas girl print. I sell several books about pin-ups and I sell most of them to women who are buying them as gifts for their men. Nothing says "Merry Christmas" like a vintage Vargas!
Magnolia Antiques has a pin-up poster of famous burlesque queen “Cat Girl” Lilly Christine for sale. Lilly performed her trademark voodoo love-potion dance at Prima’s 500 Club and other clubs on Bourbon Street in New Orleans from the late ‘40s until her death in 1965 at age 41. She posed as a pin-up, had minor parts in Hollywood films and even did her act on Broadway. Burlesque aficionados aren’t alone in finding fascination with these historic beauties!
One of my dealers (people who sell things out of my shop) is known as "Mantique Dan." You'll probably recognize his name because he's in several shops around town. Dan has a cult following of men (and women) who make a beeline to his booths to search for tools, primitives, and industrial salvage. He's got a little bit of everything and if you catch him at a shop, he'll deal with you all day long. He's been an antique dealer on the coast for several years and has built quite a reputation for being a purveyor of mantiques. If you're looking for tools, salvage, railroad items, brass findings, or really anything – Dan's got it, and he's everywhere.
Whether you're shopping during Cruisin' or getting a head start on Christmas shopping, hit up the local antique shops to find things that make them swoon.