Thursday, February 04, 2010

That was a quick week!!

One of my new addictions is this fantastic show on the Sundance cable channel called "Man Shops Globe".  Keith Johnson has my dream job.  He's a buyer at large for Anthropologie and gets to travel all over the world scouring exotic flea markets, bazaars, antique stores and the like for unique arts, crafts, furnishings and other paraphenelia to decorate and sell in their upscale, esoteric women's apparel stores.  The coolest part is when he gets to commission work from artisans.  What I wouldn't do to be able to walk through Portland Saturday Market, or go studio hopping at Portland Open Studios (or the equivalent halfway around the world) and say "I LOVE that piece!  I'll take 20."

Every time I watch it I'm fascinated by the fact that someone:
  1. Gets paid (very well, I'm sure) to do this;
  2. Regularly travels on carbon-sucking jets halfway around the world (and back again) to find some innovative 3rd world artisan/ vendor who is recycling garbage into masterpieces (that are then marketed as "eco-conscious"); and then...
  3. Can find enough people who don't have anything better to do with their money than buy enough of said items to make a considerable profit in the midst of a global recession.

But as I'm looking at many of these "remarkable" finds I'm thinking "dude.... I've seen that bottle/ jar etc. in a dozen different antique stores for $2... saw that rusty old iron bed frame in someone else's guano-bespackled barn during an estate sale for $10..... or OMG give me a hot glue and/or staple gun, a couple yards of fabric,   foam and some scrap plywood & wood trim and I can make this EXACT same thing for $50!"  Maybe $100 if it's really, I mean really - expensive fabric.  But for $1,000 (marked down from $2G) that toile better have come from Marie Antoinette's personal parlor!

I guess they need to pay for that jet fuel somehow. Most of the time, all they seem to do is rip off said 3rd world artisans/vendors and reproduce it themselves for pennies on the dollar - cutting their inspirational source entirely out of any profit. Those items are they seem to sell at pretty reasonable prices.  I have a feeling it's mostly the "one-of-a-kind", artisan-direct stuff that is sold at a premium.  Which is fair.  But I still like to feel superior while living vicariously via the net in my almost entirely second-hand furnished house.

Do they not have antique malls in Manhattan?  Ever heard of Etsy?   Craigslist?  Why can't he shop online, repurpose locally like the rest of us and save a little gas?  But then, if repurposing junk into "found item" decor is de rigueur nowadays the only way to differentiate oneself is to find foreign, exotic junk. 

It occurs to me that maybe I need to quit my whining.  It's one thing to sit up on my high horse all superior and scoff "I could do that for $50!".... and it's quite another to actually get off my ass and try to DO it.  Then turn around and sell if for $2,000.

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