Romantic Homes - Remnants of the Past
Romantic Homes’ picks for flea markets
with the wares you want.
1. Remnants of the Past (Nipomo, CA)
2. Brimfield Antique Show (Brimfield, MA)
3. Marburger Farm Antique Show (Round Top, TX)
4. Urban Barn (Escondido, CA)
5. 3 French Hens (Morris, IL)
6. The Farm Chicks (Spokane, WA)
7. Roses & Rust Vintage Flea Market (Anderson, CA)
8. The Fancy Flea (Lakeland, FL)
9. Brooklyn Flea (Brooklyn, NY)
10. Ruffles & Rust (Monroe, WA)
Remnants of the Past
s Super Market
A shop owner thinks out of the box for her new venue.
BY MERYL SCHOENBAUM • PHOTOGRAPHY BY JENNY MALOTT
It’s Sunday morning, and you had to wake
up early to get there on time, but you really don’t mind. In
fact, you’re giddy with excitement as you think about the
possibilities. It’s the thrill of the hunt and the joy of victory all
rolled into one. You grab your big straw bag, floppy hat and a
bottle of water, and you’re off to shopper’s paradise: the
sprawling outdoor flea market.
Judy Watkins knows the adrenaline rush well. It’s what
caused her to refocus her career in retailing. Judy, a mom
with a love for antiquing, opened a small antiques store in
Shell Beach, California, in 1993. She stayed there for about a
year before heading to the wine country, where she set up
shop selling vintage wares and antiques along with newer
products, such as gift items and reproductions.
Every day for the next 12 years, Judy dutifully went to work
at the store, which she called Well…La de Da, but she was
becoming increasingly disenchanted with the business. Two
years ago she decided to close up shop and take some time
off to spend with her family and consider what kind of work
she wanted to do. During that time she came to realize that
the reason she lost her passion for her shop was that she had
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veered off track from her original business plan—and, more
importantly, her heart’s desire—to sell vintage items and
antiques. Her love for them was why she had opened her first
shop, but by branching out and bringing in newer items, she
lost her direction and, consequently, her will to continue in
that working environment.
“I realized I needed an enchanting place,” Judy says. “I found
a barn in the midst of orchards and rolling hills, and I knew
this was it.”
She decided to say goodbye to brick-and-mortar and hello to
the great outdoors as her new retail space. She also changed
her focus from selling in a storefront to producing open-air
markets at the barn throughout the year. Her show, called
Remnants of the Past Vintage Show, is well attended by vendors and shoppers. The scenic landscape provides the perfect
setting for a day of treasure hunting al fresco: Guests enter
through an orchard of orange and lemon trees. A field of sunflowers and an old wooden bridge add to the bucolic scene.
The barn is about 60 by 90 feet; a grassy area of 30 by
90 feet and a crushed granite lot and booths provide
additional space for vendors to showcase their wares.
Food and beverages are available as well.
Product styles range from the romantic look to
vintage, Judy says, adding, “You have to be careful to
have a good vendor mix so there’s no conflict.” Her
first Remnants show, in October 2007, was
attended by about 500 people. The event had a fall
harvest theme, with the most popular items being
farm equipment and pumpkins carved with the
A plethora of products, from indoor to outdoor furnishings,
can be found at the Remnants of the Past shows.
(Opposite) Handmade items of every size and texture are on
display from vendors.
The number of vendors taking part in the markets has
steadily increased. At Judy’s first show there were 23 vendors,
her next show had 32 and the number rose to 60 at her most
Remnants has received praise from veteran market-goers,
such as Pat Bates, an antiques vendor who attends shows
throughout California, who told Judy she enjoyed the charm
and Old World style of the show.
In addition to the setting, Judy’s favorite aspects of the events
are the relaxed atmosphere and artist creativity. “I love that
people use ephemera,” she says. “Several vendors offer repurposed items they have turned into art.”
The next Remnants of the Past show will be held in a new
venue in San Luis Obispo at the Alex Madonna Expo Center.
It will be a two-day event on October 8 and 9, from 9 a.m. to
5 p.m. For more details, visit remnantsofthepast.com. The
event will have a fall harvest theme. Christmas items will be
Learn how dealers and decorators find the good
stuff at flea markets, yard sales and other secondhand shopping sources. Find everything you need
to furnish and decorate your home. Get tips on
haggling, when to shop, what to buy and when
you should walk away.
• Sturdy, intact pieces with solid joints, corner
blocks, dovetailed drawers, wood drawer
glides, smooth door and drawer action, and
solid back panels.
• Slightly wobbly tables or chairs of simple
construction that just need to be re-glued.
• Ugly or missing hardware, unless the hardware
is unusual and integral to the design.
• Broken glass door panels or small tabletops.
• Cosmetic problems like scratches, dings,
gouges, peeling paint or varnish or finishes
you don’t like.
• Flimsy, rickety or stapled pieces with drawers
and doors that don’t open and close properly,
lightweight metal drawer glides or cardboard
• Missing doors, drawers, legs, stretchers, rungs
• Broken or missing hardware when it’s the
hardware that makes the piece special, like
carved wood, Bakelite, Lucite or Art Nouveau
• Broken or missing glass tabletops on medium
to large tables. Beveled glass thick enough for
safety can cost hundreds of dollars.
• Peeling or missing veneer and inlay. Chipped
veneer or inlay, unless you plan to paint rather
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Judy’s home reflects her passion for the kinds
of products featured at her shows. She calls her décor
“rustic elegance,” which is displayed in such pieces as an
old farm table in the kitchen, French sheets made out of
hemp, and vintage wire baskets hanging on the walls
next to oil paintings of landscapes. “The style is comfortable but elegant at the same time,” she says.
Just as Judy has been able to realize her career dreams,
her goal is to inspire others who attend the shows.
“My hope is that people will tap into that artist in all
of us,” she says. “We all have our gifts. My wish is for
people to find themselves and be inspired.”
RUSTIC WOOD BOXES
VINTAGE SHAVING MIRRORS
Getting in the Business
Judy Watkins shares her tips for starting and staying in the
business of selling items you love.
KEEP YOUR PRIORITIES STRAIGHT.
DEVELOP A STRONG SENSE OF WHO YOU ARE.
BE PASSIONATE ABOUT YOUR WORK.
HAVE COMPASSION FOR PEOPLE.
KNOW YOUR LIFE’S PURPOSE.
DON’T WORRY ABOUT THE SMALL STUFF.
EVEN IF SOMETHING IS A BIG DEAL, SMILE AND KEEP
ROWING TO THE SHORE.
Remnants of the Past Vintage Show
(Top) Wire baskets hold antique book sets among other collectibles.
(Left) Show producer Judy Watkins, at right, enjoys a day at the market with friends.
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