I’m Anna Lewis, a vintage dealer at The Nostalgia Exchange, my mother is an antique dealer, I was brought up surrounded by antiques and vintage wares so my love for this curious world has grown and grown over the years.
My market stall is a way of life, combined with a full time job but working hard on the dream to one day soon do this full time, I incorporate it into my trips away as much as possible – the local flea markets always carefully researched before setting foot in any European city, charity shops clocked on every English high street and even in India I managed to source a treasure trove of vintage wares on a dusty, charming street in Mumbai.
Here are some flea market finds:
Early mornings are a given, to find the treasures you have to be up with the lark. In the winter that can mean turning up in a frosty field, layered up like a Michelin Man, sporting a head torch and delving through boxes in the dark. Most friends think I am mad, I probably am, but if I stayed tucked up in bed I wouldn’t get the sense of excitement that comes with the unknown treasures one might find and the sense of elation when you find something truly wonderful guaranteed to bring someone great joy.
My finds must be beautiful, intriguing, unique and most of all nostalgic and they are always carefully and lovingly handpicked. I aim to transport people to a happy time and place through the fond memories aroused through each vintage object. The word nostalgia comes from two Greek roots “nostos” to return home and “algia” a longing.
Svetlana Boym believes it is a yearning for a different time – often a time of our childhood, a time of fond memories, a romantic time. Often people have a sentiment of how things once were – which is where ‘back in my day’ comes from and I do so love hearing those stories from customers when they reminisce on a fond time over an object they have spotted on my stall.
Fond memories of childhood often bring yearnings to be transported back to that time, and a glimpse of an object can instantly arouse memories that were perhaps thought lost. Vintage toys can often have this affect.
Food and cooking also often strike poignant moments in people’s memories and I love sourcing vintage kitchenalia such as these beautiful old shop scales and lovely old Oxo tin.
Ceramic patterns are also a blast from the past as customers often recall how their family dinners were served up on a certain pattern.
There have been a few instances that have really stuck with me when customers have spotted an item that clearly triggers a special time. Not so long ago a chap came bounding over to my stall having spotted an old box of dominoes, beaming ear to ear he described how he and his late Dad use to enjoy frequent games together huddled around the fire. He was thrilled with his buy and proceeded to sit on the floor by my stall to instantly start playing with his young son, carrying on the tradition for another generation.
Another time I experienced a very emotional moment when a customer spotted two biscuit tins on my stall, leading to a tearful few moments where she recalled how her late father had owned the exact tins. Such a poignant moment reaffirming to me the importance of objects and their connection to the past and treasured memories – but also their relevance for the present and future in the comfort and courage they bring through the nostalgic sentiments they awaken.
Last weekend I went on a little jaunt to Madrid with some friends and of course to fit in their Rasto (Spain’s equivalent of our flea markets). Whilst there I came across an exact replica of my first ever bike for sale at El Rastro, I looked on fondly sporting a ridiculous grin, instantly transported back to a special time of adventures and new discoveries fuelled by the freedom of having my own set of wheels. Sadly too big to fit in my case a picture had to suffice.
These were also another Spanish buy:
Being a vintage dealer is a way of life, it can be all consuming and setting up stall is like moving house twice in one day, and once or twice I have been mistaken for a pack horse. It is however, exciting and always different with the unique and wonderful people you meet with each trip, and the wonderful objects you find from one day to the next teaching you about another time and place.
Visit Anna Lewis’ blog for lots of vintagey goodness