Born to Dutch parents, Alex Wijnen always had a special connection to Europe. She went to Kindergarten in Denmarkentered grade school in Germany, and attended middle school in the Netherlands. In fact, she picked up a love for antiques early in life as she strolled across flea markets in Germany and Attic antics two in Holland.
But how does an American college graduate with a thriving graphic design business, decide to turn her passion for antiques into a full-time activity?
As her studio started to overflow with small treasures, Alex decided it was time for drastic measures, and started selling some of her collections. We reached out to ask Alex to tell Attic antics two more about her business, how to treasure hunt to find unique antiques, and, of course, her favourite flea markets.
I grew up in northern Europe, where I traipsed alongside my Dutch parents as they scoured flea markets and antique shops to furnish our home with old chandeliers, clocks and rugs. Her nest was feathered entirely with old, chippy furniture, found fabrics, vintage bowls and plates Attic antics two nothing matched yet everything worked together beautifully and instantly felt like home.
Attic Antics first started back inwhen I was selling mixed media assemblage pieces made almost entirely of vintage found objects. I had a little studio up in our attic hence the name but after a year or two, life got too hectic so I decided to destash some of my vintage supplies on Attic antics two.
During a trip to visit family in EuropeI picked up some smalls at a Dutch flea market and listed them in my shop.
They sold almost instantly and I discovered there was quite a demand for European treasures. In the years that followed, I became more and more narrowly focused on European antiques and vintage finds to the point where now, Attic antics two sell almost exclusively items from northern Europe.
I simply buy what I love and that happens to include lots of functional items like kitchenware. My favorite place to shop is, of course, a flea market in Europe. Locally here in Portland, Oregon, I stop at estate and garage sales whenever they cross my path, shop at the big antique shows and, when time permits, pop into antique malls and boutiques, where I sometimes can find European Attic antics two at a good price. Enamelware was super trendy about 10 years ago but I still love it so I still Attic antics two it — and it sells!
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My number one favorite market is definitely the vide — grenier in Amiens, France. Another favorite is Zandfeesten in Bruges, Belgium.
Taking up the main market square and a long stretch of park blocks along the river as well as some side streets, this market seems a bit more relaxed than Amiens and the setting is gorgeous! A good stand-by is the weekly Sunday market in TongerenBelgium.
Prices are a bit higher than at a typical flea market, yet I still find Attic antics two of good buys there. Tiny in size but the colors and the mood are exquisite and it sits on our mantle so I can look at it every day. During my last visit to Europe, I also discovered a market in Haarlem, Netherlands, that I quite enjoyed.
Haarlem is one of my favorite Dutch cities so getting to shop for antiques there was a huge treat! Attic antics two Chicks in Spokane, WAis a fun destination, although prices are typically too high to buy for resale.
Who knows, once I make it to one of them, I may have to come back here and revise my answers. One of my most epic flea market finds was a tall slanted table that my husband and I came across at the Coburg Antique Show when we lived in Eugene, Oregon.
An hour later, I Attic antics two nearly in tears — the table could not fit through our narrow, awkwardly angled hallway to fit into my office.
After many valiant attempts of angling the table this way and that, Attic antics two was clear: But then a brainstorm saved the day: During our trip to Europe last fall, I was searching for a wooden toy Attic antics two horse that was going to be a belated birthday present to me from Todd. The price was incredibly affordable, too, so it seemed destined to happen. Alas, the size was simply too large: Sigh… I took their business card and bid farewell to the horse. During the next two weeks while we traveled through Europe, I kept thinking about that horse.
I kept thinking of how I could get it home. I finally decided it was worth it to drive across the border to ship from Germanywhere the postal regulations allowed for a larger box.
I was so excited to call the vendors but was quickly disappointed: When we do go, Attic antics two try to time it so that I can hit one or two of my favorite markets while my husband can visit a Belgian beer festival. Because we typically use miles to buy our tickets, we often have to be flexible with our desired travel days. Once I have confirmed dates, I go to work on figuring out what markets are happening when and where.
Sundays are the biggest days for markets so I usually start with picking Attic antics two I want to shop on those days which market in which countries. Then the rest gets filled in from there.
At night, after walking for 10 or 12 hours, we can just collapse into bed and not have to worry about driving to our next location. While buying vintage and Attic antics two in Europe is the most fun part of my job, making sure I get all those treasures home safely is probably one of my least favorite parts. I usually do a combination of suitcases, carry-on and shipping boxes.
My number one priority is packing everything up safely. To that purpose, I will usually bring a suitcase full of packing materials that include scissors, twine, tissue paper hard to find in some cities in Europebubble wrap, and packing tape — European packing tape for some reason is not nearly as Attic antics two and sturdy as the American Scotch brand packing tape so I bring at least one, if not two, rolls per trip.
You can ask for boxes at grocery stores or buy them at hardware stores or storage facilities. When I first started out, I was surprised at how warm and welcoming the vintage and antique Attic antics two here in Portland was. For me, the rule of buying only what I love has served me well — it has helped me focus my brand and develop a style that my customers seem to love and appreciate. Buy if you love it, and buy when you see it.