• Otter Views: Antiques Galore

    PG boasts many fine antique stores, but seeing a whole parking lot full of antiques – other than autos, that is – usually requires a drive out of town. Up in the Bay Area, Alameda hosts a mighty antique sale each month. Dealers also show their wares regularly at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, but that’s a serious haul from here.

    Less frequent events draw antique hunters to regional destinations like Moss Landing, San Juan Bautista, and the “Goat Hill” sale at the Santa Cruz Fairgrounds in Watsonville. Not as far as Alameda or the Rose Bowl, certainly, but still a chunk of drive time.

    Thus it was a kick to drive a mere 10 minutes on Sunday to Monterey Peninsula College. There, 90 antiques vendors from near and far had assembled for the first in a series of monthly sales. Bivouacked over several acres in one of the school’s parking lots, the vendors ranged from small specialty collectors to major sellers whose inventories filled container trucks.

    As the owner of a much smaller truck, I had offered to help a friend transport two tables, a child’s roll-top desk and four kitchen chairs that wouldn’t fit into her car. Beneath a small striped tent, these furnishings would join two sets of China cups, several lamps, and a small array of vintage linens, house wares and kitchen wares.

    Assuming the other vendors would have equally modest setups, I was dumbstruck by the size and scale of most enterprises. One crew emptied an entire truck full of antique juke boxes, kiddy cars, rocket ship rides and other weighty amusements from the 1950s. A neighboring vendor heaved from his trailer massive furnishings made from old redwood burls, wine vats and railroad ties.

    From trucks, trailers, vans, RVs and power wagons spilled an immense cornucopia of goods far too numerous and varied to detail here. Everything on offer was supposed to be “antique” or “vintage” or to have been derived therefrom. Remiss in my antiquarian categories, I can only attest that many thousands of time-enhanced, ruggedly durable prior-owned goods were for sale.

    Among the things I recognized were Underwood typewriters, six-strand rattan arm chairs, very old firearms, cameras and hand tools; Navy officers’ hats, World War Two rifles, wrought iron lamps, stained glass windows, leather bomber jackets, 1940s swivel chairs and roll top desks, period oil paintings, commercial hair dryers, hand-made briar pipes, “silkie” aloha shirts, and every car, boat, plane and motorcycle medallion ever stamped out.

    And that was just one booth.

    By 8 a.m., when the first shoppers arrived to peruse all this swag, the village of antiques and collectibles extended over eight full rows of the MPC parking lot. It made an impressive sight. The conical tents and bright banners gave the scene a quasi-medieval aspect, as if Charlemagne’s army had encamped there overnight.

    Alas for the army of vendors, the hoped-for army of Monterey area shoppers did not materialize. Several theories were advanced for this, the principal one being the sale’s unfortunate debut on the last day of “car week.”

    The out-of-town dealers, some of whom had driven five or six hours to get to Monterey by dawn, were perplexed.

    “Where is everybody?” one asked. “At Alameda and the Rose Bowl, the pickers are already there at 5 a.m., shopping by flashlight.”

    “Well, this is the last day of the Concours d’Elegance,” I explained, “the classic car show out at Pebble Beach?”

    “So the Monterey antique hunters are all there?”

    “Not necessarily. Car Week generates epic, bumper-to-bumper traffic jams every year, so a lot of locals stay home. Others vacate the area entirely. That might have dampened your turnout.”

    The fearless souls who did hazard the drive to MPC between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. Sunday found beautiful weather, 90 eager merchants, and the aforementioned plethora of antique and vintage goods. A coffee vendor and a food truck were also on hand.

    I wanted to get to church after helping my friend set up, so I left as the first shoppers strolled through. I returned in the afternoon for the breakdown.

    “How did you do?” I asked.
    “I sold one of the tables.”
    “The heavy one?” I asked hopefully.
    “No, the other one. But that’s still one less table to bring back.”

    All around us, other vendors were disassembling their stalls, tents and booths and packing up whatever merchandise hadn’t sold. They worked with dispatch and efficiency, like roadies breaking down a rock show or carneys moving a circus to the next town.

    As a very amateur antiques transporter, I was awed by the ingenious packing, loading and stowage systems the seasoned vendors had perfected. In what seemed jig time, counters full of jewelry, racks of clothing, rooms full of furniture, walls of paintings and tables of military paraphernalia vanished neatly into vehicles that seemed far too small to contain them all.

    Then they all drove back home to prep for Alameda and the Rose Bowl.

    posted to Cedar Street Times on August 22, 2014

    Topics: Otter Views

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