22/05/2012 § 5 Comments
I’m off to Boston for a few days on business, and I thought it would be the perfect time to share this set of photos I discovered in the Life Archive. They were taken in 1949 at the original Filene’s Basement, then called the “Automatic Bargain Basement” for the automatic schedule of its discount percentages (pegged to the number of days the item had been on sale). Created in 1909 in the basement of Boston’s flagship Filene’s department store, Filene’s Basement was eventually spun off as its own entity and outlived the department store until it too became defunct in 2011. Fun fact: it’s actually where the term “bargain basement” originated.
Sadly the gorgeous original flagship store at Downtown Crossing in Boston, built in 1912 and where these photos were taken, was largely demolished in 2007 after Filene’s went out of business. Because only the building’s facade was landmarked, developers were free to gut the interiors of the building, which also dated back to 1912. When those developers lost funding, the building was just left gutted — a huge, gaping hole with the facade looming like the ghost of sales past. (I haven’t been to Downtown Crossing lately to see if anything has changed at the site — has anyone?)
In these photos, Life photographer George Silk captured the annual $11 suit and topcoat sale at Filene’s Basement. Just like today’s sample sales, customers started forming a line for the 8:30am sale at 6:30am, and made a mad dash as soon as the doors were flung open. In less than three hours, 5,000 garments were sold. In the article, entitled “Improper Bostonians” (which you can read here), Life delightedly informs us that a 200-pound woman fainted and had to be carried away, a blind man was nearly trampled and a man posed as a salesman and swiped someone’s $11!
Nice to see sample sales haven’t really changed all that much in over
60 years, even if the customers do look a little more refined!
Taken by George Silk for Life Magazine, via the Life Archive.
13/05/2012 § 1 Comment
Had a lovely time visiting the Brimfield Antique Show on Friday with Lani! Luckily, we had lovely weather to match. Unluckily, the week’s rain had kept away a lot of the other antique hunters for the better part of the week, resulting in a very crowded and lengthy drive in, but we didn’t let that get us down!
As to be expected of the Northeast’s (and perhaps the country’s?) largest antique show, Brimfield doesn’t really offer many deals. The Brimfield dealer is savvy, picky even. They know that somewhere, someone is wandering around in the fields that would be willing to pay their inflated prices, either because they don’t know any better or because they just don’t care about the cost. And for good reason, as the creative services and design teams of some of the biggest mainstream Americana brands (Ralph Lauren, Abercrombie and Fitch) regularly sweep through Brimfield looking for inspiration (and pay top dollar for it).
That said, going to Brimfield is still a lot of fun — there’s great food and even better people watching. There’s also some truly weird stuff out there. It’s definitely my favorite Brimfield pastime to play “Didn’t you tell me you needed _______?” In which the blank is filled in with the weirdest thing within sight, e.g, a Liberace pillow, a 5 foot-tall tea kettle, and the like.
Lani is excited for…
16/05/2011 § 3 Comments
As we’ve already discussed, this weekend I scampered up to Massachusetts for a bit of a mini-break. With Lani as my partner in crime, our activities included the massive antiques fair at Brimfield where we haggled like pros, Cambridge and Boston shopping walkabouts, and a fabulous evening of dance moves and drinky poos at the Liberty Hotel with lovelies Christine and Sean. I have a special place in my heart for Boston and its environs as once upon a time I had a Mister in the Bean and we spent many a weekend wandering around. It was so nice to return.
While in Boston’s North End, we stopped by Acquire, a home decor boutique I’ve been a big fan of since 2008. Owner Nikki Dalrymple has an amazing eye for beautiful, one of a kind pieces. I always find Acquire to be a lovely little jewel-box of interesting tabletop accessories, wall art and accent furniture. If you are in the neighborhood, you must see it for yourself.
61 Salem Street
North End, Boston, MA
Dinner at Scampo in the Liberty Hotel
You’ll notice I didn’t include pictures of the aforementioned dance moves or my spoils from Brimfield. As for the latter, I will be posting about them over the next few days. As for the former, don’t hold your breath, cherie.