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Just a few observations about the thrift store scene in my hometown. Now we all know the economy is bad so I won't turn this into a thread about that. I have been hitting the thrift stores as long as I can remember. Always some good finds to be had in many areas of collecting. At one time the thrift seemed to be the habitat for lost Tiki treasure now it is truly a treasure hunt indeed. Lately the thrift stores in my area are crowded and I mean that sometimes I can't find a parking spot. And the Tiki items have dropped almost off of the radar. Now around here the good finds always come in the spring when the spring cleaning kicks into gear after a long winter. Large donations are made to the thrifts from cleaned out basements, closets and attics. Garage sales also start in the spring as do the antique shows and the local flea market which is now filled with dollar store junk and socks. I hit five or six thrift stores a week and Tiki is harder and harder to find. I think location may be a factor as well. My sister lives in south Florida and can hit about twenty stores a day and find not one Tiki item in months. I told her the lack of Tiki is because folks have off loaded their junk in the north before moving to the sunny south. Is it like this in other areas? Is the supply of vintage Tiki running low in the wild? Still a great hobby when you can find a fine piece of art filled with history in the form of a Tiki mug on a thrift store shelf for a buck. Like I said just some observations. Now I'll stop.........I gotta go to the thrift store because you just never know.


"Anyone who has ever seen them is thereafter haunted as if by a feverish dream" Karl Woermann

[ Edited by: uncle trav 2010-01-10 05:31 ]

the thing about thrift stores is that they are the repositories of all things that did not sell at the local garage sales and estate sales......it's rare these days to find much tiki at thrift shops because alot of ebay sellers have already learned to grab them up at estate sales and garage sales, thus they never make it to the thrift shop anymore....of course, sometimes houses are cleaned out or items donated by folks that never bothered or had time to have a garage sale or estate sale......this would account for the tiki stuff you actually DO find at thrift stores......so it's always hit or miss and worth going to thrift shops.....I happen to find tons of other non tiki vintage stuff at our local shop that i have been able to sell at ridiculous prices through various venues....(i.e. a vintage lava lamp i paid $ 2.99 for and sold on ebay for $169.00 2 months ago)

W

It's not just an awareness of value or the presence of more shoppers,***** vintage Tiki has thinned out because stuff comes to junk shops in waves based on the decades when it was first acquired. The waves are created by people closing up the family homes in order to move somewhere smaller (condo or plot).

Non-Tiki stuffs from the Golden Age of Tiki are just as hard to find in the wild. I haven't come across a piece of Franciscan Ware in a junk shop in years. In general finding any cool bits of pop culture or household items from before 1975 is rare now.

In my area (Seattle) the Conquistador Living Room Conquest arrived on the thrift shop shores right near the end of the Easy Tiki Score era. Back then I came across so much giant rustic wood furniture and huge plaster helmet lamps that I wished I had a house big enough to make a room of it. (With some red and black wall to wall shag and black velvet flocked gold wallpaper, of course.) It's been a couple years now since I've seen a Spanish made chain and wood wall sconce.

Even the Great Owl Migration has thinned out. Where once the shelves groaned with the wise gaze of the owl cookie jar or lamp barely a spoon rest or S&P set can be spotted now.

***** The junks shops have been busy lately, but most of those folks are people who are addicted to shopping for shopping's sake. They're usually pawing through the clothes and shoes.

Thanks guys. The flock of owls is plentiful here in Michigan but not my thing. Franciscan ware is around in good amounts also. I just picked up a few pieces of starburst not long ago including the sugar and creamer. Not so much Tiki though. I did find a set of the mini mugs yesterday, a rare find lately and a Bertoia child's wire chair in black. So all is not lost.

W

And, as your post just showed, area does have something to do with it...But I'd guess that's not always due to an awareness of an era or certain items but how popular those items were to begin with in their original eras and possibly how long people in one geographic part of the country stay in their homes.

I was visiting Califusa in the 90s at the height of interest in the American Arts and Crafts look. At the Rose Bowl flea market pert near every vendor of general junk had some vintage hammered copper pieces. Back in Seattle the stuff was all over the junk shop shelves and no one was interested in it.

I know here in upper northern cal. it can be pretty thin at any of the shops. Here, many of the old shops are tuning into trendy upscale antique shops with more upper end items and pricing. When I tell them what I'm looking for for I get the " why?" look. I do have to figure area in as well. The tiki trend burned out here back in the late 70's or early 80's. witco or O.A. items are like finding the lost ark.

L

I make extra money from thrifting and have for over a year now.

I hit anywhere between 5-12 thrift stores weekly.

Sometimes I find just 1 thing, other times I find a whole lot of stuff tiki/Hawaii related in addition to all the mid-century/vintage/kitschy items I find.

For Christmas about 90% of my gifts I gave were all thrifted. Brand new items that I paid pennies for that made my holiday shopping cheaper than it has ever been.

I love my thrift stores and seriously it has to do with the area you live in. I couldn't imagine thrifting in San Francisco for example since those stores are so picked over. My thrift stores are awesome.

The only change I have noticed over the past couple of months is that instead of it being beat up cars in the parking lot they are filled with Lexus, Mercedes and Hummers these days.

Thankfully all those people are picking through the clothes while I make a killing on everything else.

This year I plan on being more of a garage saler as well as hitting thrifts.

I can not wait for it to warm up!

Yep, what you find in the thrifts is a direct representation of the taste and style preferences in that part of the country. Here in the middle of the country, middle-of-the-road is the dominant theme. The only saving grace for Kansas City is/was TWA, IMHO. KC had at least three major TWA corporate offices as well as the national overhaul base. And what did all those employees do with their bonuses and vacation time? Why, go to Hawaii of course! And they brought back stuff as well as ideas. I can't imagine the cultural black-hole this town would have been without TWA! Unfortunately, from the recent archeological evidence found at the thrifts, these people have largely moved on and, like other parts of the country, good vintage finds are rare these days.

H

Things are very slow here in Ohio but then again, I think Tiki David gets it all before I can find it. : )

The few things I found this weekend were over near Toledo.

Owls, owls, owls... Indiana shops are loaded with 60's-70's owls.

Absolutely, the thrift shops are busier over the last years. Like Liz, I see most after the clothing.

..funny... I too have noticed the recent rash of really nice expensive cars in the thift store parking lots too within the past few months....

...and as for thrift content, i agree it's regional.....here in the midwest chicago with o'hare airport nearby, a huge amount of old tiki haunts back in the day, basements which housed home tiki bars back in the day we tend to find more tiki, united airlines stuff an universal statuary products (they were also headquartered here) than in other areas.....alot of manufacturing was done here in the old days..witco had showrooms downtown and johnson products also had a huge warehouse which was the midwest answer to oceanic arts....

..and yes, owls.....they are everywhere.

[ Edited by: Tipsy McStagger 2010-01-10 17:05 ]

Here in the south, all I see is County boy stuff......
Lots of Squirrels......Glass Squirrels.....
When I see Tiki it's like finding the lost Ark! LOL!

I know ,I can't find a thing.

You said it, Sideshow Bob. They do sell Tiki Farm at Junkman's Daughter though, if you want to "cheat" . We should wander to Trader Vic's sometime.

L

On 2010-01-18 14:41, Tiki-Atari wrote:
You said it, Sideshow Bob. They do sell Tiki Farm at Junkman's Daughter though, if you want to "cheat" . We should wander to Trader Vic's sometime.

God how I love Junkman's Daughter!

And in Athens Junkman's Daughter's Brother.

Please eat at the Vortex for me and have some deep fried veggies. Oh how I miss ATL!

TT

I have also noticed a huge growth in the number of folks shopping at the local thrift stores. However the east side of Tampa Bay still provides some great finds because most of the folks here either don't like tiki items, or don't know what they are. I'm just thankful for what I have been able to find because I'm sure sooner or later the well will run dry.

On 2010-01-18 14:41, Tiki-Atari wrote:
You said it, Sideshow Bob. They do sell Tiki Farm at Junkman's Daughter though, if you want to "cheat" . We should wander to Trader Vic's sometime.

Sounds great!
I'll pm ya when We go
I forgot about Junkman's Daughter..... Maybe this weekend!
Vortex is a blast!
Cheers!


[ Edited by: Sideshow Bob 2010-01-20 18:30 ]

With the upswing in eBay over the last several years it does make it tougher out there. I used to find lots of stuff at our outdoor swap meet here in Las Vegas. However, there are SO many people out scrounging for stuff these days, and as a result, there are SO many people trying to sell on eBay, it's made it more difficult. I'm not out there looking as much as I used to because of this. Too many people are hip to Tiki Items now, even the ones that know very little about it. You know, the folks that pay $8-$10 for Made in China Mugs. Basically, there are more people out scrounging and less people selling good stuff. When something does materialize these days it's usually a "pirhana feed" trying to get it from everyone else.

On a more positive note, I went out a couple of weeks ago and actually found a large Hip Tiki for $3.00 and just a few tables over I walked up as a guy was putting out an old Coco Joe's ashtray and he said there is a Tiki that goes with it. It was a smaller, jewel-eye Hip Tiki and I got both from him for $1.00 -- go figure! It takes a little more time and persistence (and luck) than before.

I can't say that I am not finding any Tiki at the thrift stores. What I can say is that there is a bunch of bad "tiki".
Dayglo party crap or stuff that is way to cartoonish. Also allot of Bermuda, Philippines, Aztec, Mayan and you name it marked as Tiki. I will still hit all of the same stores at least once a week because you never know what you may find. It's the thrill of the hunt that keeps me going and good finds do come along and they are even sweeter with a long dry spell in between.

yeah I've noticed that also. I'll pass on a item but notice it's gone the next time i'm there. I know of one other collector in my area, but he's not grabbing them up either. The scary thing is like you said, some of it's just crap, party shop stuff. At the same time, I did just pick up a outrigger sm bowl for .99 at the sal. army shop. Stuffed in the back with a fower in it.

I think perhaps Texas was never the haven of tiki because we were already tropical? Maybe?

Then again, Florida is tropical and you couldn't swing a dead cat without hitting a tiki hot spot at one point there. Houston had many good tiki restaurants in its heyday (Dobb's Luau, Trader Vic's, Don the Beachcomber, and 3 owned by the same Cantonese fellow), but the home tiki bar thing, as far as I can tell, was never huge. Maybe we were just too into the Mexican thing? And still are?

Thus, I don't feel like I see the amount of tiki out in the wild (or the antique stores) as I do on trips to California. Maybe Texans flew to the Caribbean for their vacations, and not so much to Hawaii?

Estate sales here are impossible. There are a couple of professional estate sale companies, and to get in first, you have to show up at midnight the night before to sign the list that allows you to have a place in line the next AM at 8:00 (a Friday). Most of us work on Fridays - duh. Thus, only dealers get in first and get the good stuff, and they're not looking for tiki and MCM 'cause they collect it! The estate sales companies also usually let in their friends who have antique stores first, even before the sign-up list action. Grrr...

Thrift stores in town are almost pointless. I troll the local antique malls and thrift stores way outside the Loop, therefore, as well as the antique malls in the towns just outside of Houston. I score my best stuff that way - ignorant dealers who know it's cool, but don't know what it is specifically enough to look it up on eBay and thus ask an exorbitant price.

The Leilanis for $30 get my goat...

And I too see nicely dressed women in the thrifts now in a way I did not before, but only looking at clothes.
Gone are the days of the Shaheen in the Goodwill anyway.

Talking smack about the thrifts being vintage Tiki deficient and mom comes up with the goods. Found here in Michigan a couple of days ago at the local thrift. Two vintage mint Mai Kai mugs with OMC tags and a very heavy resin Lono that I can't find a mark on. Stuff is out there folks, just gotta keep plugging away. Goes to show how a well educated relative trained in the fine art of Tiki ID can find treasure for you.


"Anyone who has ever seen them is thereafter haunted as if by a feverish dream" Karl Woermann

[ Edited by: uncle trav 2010-02-19 15:16 ]

Hi,
been reading through these boards for a while now... this is my first post! At any rate, the most unbelievable thing happened to me last week! Drove out to the suburbs of Montreal to pick up a hilarious taxidermied animal from some old lady, and figured we'd hit up the thrifts while over there. Anyways, we uncovered 2 such venues directly across the street from one another... obviously a hundred times more neat stuff to be found there as opposed to the city, but alas, after spending well over 2 hours scavenging through all the fantastic junk in these shops, walked away with little more than a wooden monkeypod tiki vessel.Here's where the unbelievable part comes in... Located pretty much between these 2 thrift stores was a chinese looking restaurant with the word "tiki" in it's name. My girlfriend, being the great sport that she is, agreed we'd better go inside to check things out. The place seemed pretty bare bones at first, a few nice lamps scattered throughout, but that was it... until I noticed what was collecting dust on a shelf behind the bar, that is! Right next to a handful of common Orchids of Hawaii mugs, to my utter delight, were 3 Steve Crane "Bird of Paradise" bowls, as well as 2 huge Steve Crane Coconut bowls! Managed to talk the owner into selling all five to me after enjoying a surprisingly delicious meal.
The end.

8T

Tres bien Carl!

Merci!
Just trying to spread my gospel of hope! Har har!

[ Edited by: Carl Ulrich 2010-03-04 18:25 ]

[ Edited by: Carl Ulrich 2010-03-04 20:31 ]

L

On 2010-03-04 16:27, Carl Ulrich wrote:
Right next to a handful of common Orchids of Hawaii mugs, to my utter delight, were 3 Steve Crane "Bird of Paradise" bowls, as well as 2 huge Steve Crane Coconut bowls! Managed to talk the owner into selling all five to me after enjoying a surprisingly delicious meal.
The end.

Please post pics of them...

The birds are a little dinged up, but the coconuts are pretty well flawless...

Probably my finest score yet!

L

I hope to one day find a bird bowl...haha yeah like THAT will happen!

great score and thanks for the pics

and yes I only asked because I didnt really believe ya I admit it :wink:

You win for best find in the wild !

(EDITED so I could add that yes I am also jealous!)

[ Edited by: leleliz 2010-03-04 19:24 ]

My faith has been restored!
Cool stuff CAN still be found in the wild!
GO CARL!!

(If those 3 birds are cluttering up your shelves too much, feel free to send one my way.)
F

Thanks! For once, I don't feel like the douche going on about these stupid ceramic bowls I found to uninterested friends and coworkers! Good luck, and happy hunting!

yao ming!!
unbelievably great score!
now the real question, how much?
not that it matters...i'd pony up for those pretty big.

Carl, sounds like you were at Chows in Dorval? I have a friend staying in Montreal right now and I just told him to check that place out the other day to see if they still had any interesting mugs kicking around, not that he would have been able to recognize those beautiful pieces of history from the Orchids mugs... That's a once-in-a-lifetime score! Did you leave anything behind??

On 2010-03-04 16:27, Carl Ulrich wrote:
Located pretty much between these 2 thrift stores was a chinese looking restaurant with the word "tiki" in it's name.

Congrats. Since urban archeology is about more than acquisition, what was the full name of the place, then? Did it have a cool sign? I assume you did not take any pic? Hmmm...I cannot believe that John Trivisonno and the Montreal Tiki Appreciation Society ( http://www.maitaionline.com/ ) would not be aware of it.

I got 'em for real cheap, but of course, I don't plan on reselling 'em anyways!
Monsieur Kirsten, I've actually been aware of the now defunct (to my knowledge, anyways) Montreal tiki appreciation society for some time now, and actually picked up a couple back issues of Mai Tai just recently. That's what freaks me out. Considering the amount of research others have conducted in the area long before I got serious about it, I was completely shocked to discover this place, sandwiched right between 2 thrift stores, no less! To be fair, the owner told me they'd just relocated to the neighborhood a year or two ago, but if memory serves, they'd been open since around '82...which I believe would just about coincide with the closing of the Montreal Kon-Tiki. That's how they probably got the mugs, as well as the lamps (the pictures didn't turn out...)which are identical to ones I've seen a local, overpriced Kitsch store advertise as "hailing from the Kon-Tiki restaurant". I tried to get more information out of him, but seeing as neither his English or French speaking skills were very developped (not to mention the dinnertime rush they were having), fiigured I'd stop by another time for the real scoop.
I did document the facade as well as I could with my trusty camera phone.

And here's a scan of the crumpled up business card (I of course saved a couple fresh ones for good measure!)

Also, did't they rip off the logo from Kon-Tiki as well? Hmmm...
Super exciting times!

J

Here's a question from a curious non-collector.

Is it acceptable Tiki behavior to purchase Tiki objects (mugs, Tikis, shields, etc) out of a non-retail setting? I thought that removing these treasures out of their native environment precludes others from enjoying them.

Just asking. :)

On 2010-03-04 23:05, Brandomoai wrote:
Carl, sounds like you were at Chows in Dorval? I have a friend staying in Montreal right now and I just told him to check that place out the other day to see if they still had any interesting mugs kicking around, not that he would have been able to recognize those beautiful pieces of history from the Orchids mugs... That's a once-in-a-lifetime score! Did you leave anything behind??

I sort of recall reading something about Chow's, but haven't yet made the trek... Longeuil is a little closer for me! Seriously, pickings in this area are kind of slim, so I got greedy! Hope your friend finds something for you!

On 2010-03-05 11:57, JOHN-O wrote:
Here's a question from a curious non-collector.

Is it acceptable Tiki behavior to purchase Tiki objects (mugs, Tikis, shields, etc) out of a non-retail setting? I thought that removing these treasures out of their native environment precludes others from enjoying them.

Just asking. :)

That's definetely a valid point. In my defence, the restaurant in question doesn't even serve tropical drinks anymore- the place is now bring your own wine. I ultimately think these objects now find themselves in a loving home, where they'll serve as centerpieces to a growing collection, as opposed to being unused, and hidden away in a corner behind the counter of a Chinese restaurant.
Then again, maybe I'm just being selfish....

It looks like a slippery slope,
but
I have to go for the if-they'll-sell-'em-to-you-then-buy-'em camp.
Because if they'll sell them to you, they'll sell them to someone else, who might keep them - or might just toss them on eBay.
They're still gone from the place - a place, as Carl pointed out, that isn't even selling drinks out of them anymore. So if someone's gonna get 'em, might as well be you!

In other words, as long as you're not stealing them, I say fair game.

Kinda goes along with offering an amount offline on eBay.
If they wanna sell Ren Clark's personal home tiki bar for a FRACTION of what it would have gone for, so be it!
Everyone else may be bummed that they didn't get there first, but as long as the stuff isn't being destroyed (which may well have eventually happened to the Montreal bowls), then the good thing happened:
The stuff was saved and is being appreciated by someone who loves it
AND who shares pictures of it with the rest of [jealous] us!
F

Thank you for the pics, Carl! "Bring your own wine" !? :lol: That is about as far from the Polynesian cocktail tradition as you can get! I agree that in this case it is really difficult if one is depleting and existing Tiki temple of mana or if one is saving precious relics from neglect and eventual discarding. The latter seems to be the case here.

This dilemma has an eery parallel in ethnographic field collecting in the early 20th century, where explorers took South Sea idols from native sites with the argument that they were only used once for a ceremony and then left to rot, and thus they were preserving an art form for future generations. Will future descendants of Tiki restaurant owners eventually demand restitution and repatriation? :D

nice find....for years i have trolled the many chinese restaurants here in chicago and have had quite a bit of luck...certainly nothing on this scale as your find, but i have often been pleasantly suprised by what i find in the display cabinets at the check out counters in some of these places....it's helps to comb old yellow pages books to find older asian restaurants that still might be around too......

On 2010-03-05 12:06, Carl Ulrich wrote:
I sort of recall reading something about Chow's, but haven't yet made the trek... Longeuil is a little closer for me! Seriously, pickings in this area are kind of slim, so I got greedy! Hope your friend finds something for you!

I'm sure no one on TC has heard of this Tiki Sun place, but that would make a very interesting story if they bought up decor, mugs, and who knows what else from the Kon Tiki when it closed. Sounds like it's definitely worth investigating! When I heard your description, I just assumed it was Chow's. Someone had a similar story from a few years ago: http://www.tikicentral.com/viewtopic.php?topic=13696&forum=2&hilite=montreal