I was so excited to see Topanga Vintage Market touted as a top source for vintage china, flatware and all things tableware in this great article about vintage table settings from LA Daily News !
Apparently mixing and matching patterns and services is a new thing (my grandmother might disagree!) I have to say, it looks very beautiful in the photos and makes sense to a “pinch of this, dash of that” kind of gal like me.
I decided to bring out my own special china and create a “curated table” of my own. I had a limited amount yet very wide style range to work with. Very formal gold rimmed Phoenixware china from England, and hand thrown ceramic Vince Kitira plates from Thailand, a few Russel Wright pieces, and 1930’s bakelite flatware. The Wright pieces were all wrong, but the rest seemed to hit if off. OK, so here goes!
Not too bad! Unfortunately I only have enough pieces to do a table for three. Always an awkward number! SO, I guess I will be joining the shoppers at our fall shows hunting for more pretty pieces for larger gatherings around my table.
Here’s a preview of what you might find for your own holiday table:
So I found this piece about Haim’s fresh vintage vibe in the New York Times today and I was like yaaaas!
When you’re cool enough to credit your parents for your vintage rock roots, you are a true Valley girl. Check out their new album, Something To Tell You. And don’t miss this video, which Variety says is “… the best filmic paean to the Valley since, well, “Magnolia … If anyone can bring sexy back to Sherman Oaks, it’s Haim.”
It’s Christmas Weekend. Looking for fun things to do with family and friends? Here’s your list for Sunday!
1) Topanga Vintage Market at Pierce College, of course. Over 150 vintage vendors, artisans, live music by Katie Ferrara, and 4 great food trucks. Angeleno magazine calls it one of LA’s top 5 sources for vintage, and Red Tricycle calls it LA’s most family friendly flea. Perfect combo!
2) Skate at Woodland Hills Ice! Huge outdoor rink at Westfield Promenade (the quiet mall with free parking!)
Where you can even buy an exquisite flying machine
By Katherine Relf-Canas
(I sella line called “PH,” Preeti’s Handmades, playful felt hair clips & bands for girls with an emphasis on things that dwell in the garden and a nod to Preeti’s EastIndian-origins. Some of the bows are upcycled from vintage saris! I thought TVM would be a good place to test out the SoCal market so I signed up for a spot. (To read more about it see “Space Time Continuum”)
In the Artists Alley as a first-time seller, I had the chance to take a few lessons from seasoned seller Jim Mangiaracina, owner of “Regatta,” whose space was next to mine. Jim and I chat throughout the day. A comment here, a question there, I learn he’s sold here a few times before. Not only that, he has lived in Woodland Hills since the early ‘60s.
Jim’s display is a collection of PVC and metal poles that rise eight feet atop a home-built wooden brace system. He has just the one product and no signage. His product speaks for itself. The horizontal cross poles gyrate, as four small wooden sailboats bolted to them catch the wind. The boats go round and round, like kinetic sculptures and Calderesque stabiles meeting the open seas, and like that song by Joni Mitchell.
On his card, it just says: Regatta. “People say ‘you could create a generator.’ But this is not a business,” he says. “I don’t want a business. This is a hobby.” He likes to keep it simple. He’s 92.
Jim worked in aerospace engineering at Northrop where he focused on instrumentation for inertial guidance systems. That’s why he moved to Woodland Hills in 1961. It was a great place to raise his kids. He still lives in the house he purchased for $19,000 that year. It was a key year in the space race.
He also sailed California waters for 40 years on a boat he co-owned with a friend. The boat, called the Libertine, was moored in Marina del Rey. Over the course of our conversation I learn about his 50 trips to Catalina and back and the other ports up and down the California coast he visited. A bit of unique history to this boat, he and his partner purchased it in the ‘70s from Dean Martin when the Rat Pack entertainer got divorced.
With years as a sailing man and decades at Northrop as an aerospace engineer, the things this fellow knows about aerodynamics!
So back to his invention, the “Regatta.” He describes how the contraptions work. “Sailing is tacking. These are gybing.” All this expertise piques my interest, but I barely know any sailing or aerodynamics terms, although I have heard pitch, yaw and roll. All this knowledge and craft are contained in the mast-like garden ornaments that spin incessantly in the wind. To me, they seem less like toys than feats of engineering, but they’re also poetic. They celebrate motion, and as simple yet complex machines showcase the wonder of taming the natural elements.
He, in his quiet way, and they in their kinetic way, capture the attention of many passers by. You might even say the movement of the market is entrained with the sailboats’ gyrations.
We talk about how he usually sells most of his pieces in the afternoon, past 1:00 p.m. “I’ll sell three or four in 20 minutes,” he tells me.
This is exactly what happens. I listen to him explain to each buyer the care and assembly of the units, as he hands them an instruction sheet and a card with his contact information. They’ll need his contact information to order replacement sails. “When the wind gets too high, you tie the bars together,” he tells them.
I mention that I live near Oracle, the tech company founded by now former CEO Larry Ellison. Ellison’s distinguished sailing career includes winning five Maxi World Championships and two America’s Cup competitions, and he has sailed since 1966. I quip that maybe I should get one of his sailboat marvels and bring it to Ellison as a gift. Then, I’m wondering if maybe I should just get one for our yard. We’re in a wind belt for sure, up high in the Belmont Hills of Silicon Valley.
At the end of the day, it’s our last huddle, and Jimmy makes me an end-of-the-day offer. For $10 I can have one. (He’s already bought me a cup of coffee. He’s being too generous, I think.) I offer him $20, the regular price. He refuses. I give him the ten bucks.
He hands over the goods and says “Now, if you do give it to Larry Ellison and he contacts me, then…” Well, I won’t disclose my incentive reward. Perhaps this will be what they call in the industry an ‘after sale.’
As I sit and write this, I’m still undecided. The sailboat garden mobile is my memento of a day spent in Jim’s company. Those little sail boats are eager to feel the wind, I imagine. Wherever they ultimately end up, they’ll be an apt reminder of the kinetic place called The Topanga Vintage Market.
Regatta returns to the Artists Alley at Topanga Vintage Market on October 25!
We have a lively instagram account @topanga_vintage_market and the other day I searched our hashtag #topangavintagemarket and found this sweet story about how our market helped start a dream business, in Oklahoma!
We love knowing that our vendor Joe the Seltzer Guy’s bottles got Borrowed Charm started making beautiful events happen out in OK land. Life is full of serendipity. Check out @borrowedcharm for some lovely vintage inspiration.
Topanga Vintage Market as seen through the eyes of a first-time seller
By Katherine Relf-Canas
I sell a line called “PH”, Preeti’s Handmades. The line began as playful felt clips for girls with an emphasis on things that dwell in the garden and draw inspiration from my friend Preeti’s little girls. The most recent line is a nod to Preeti’s East Indian-origins. Some of the bows are up-cycled from vintage saris. As her West Coast partner, I have helped grow the line in the Bay Area. I thought TVM would be a good place to test out the SoCal market.
Go time: Memorial Day weekend is not the ideal time to drive from the Bay Area to Los Angeles, but a seller’s space in Artists Alley was awaiting me at the Topanga Vintage Market, so I pressed on—the accelerator.
I enjoy a night at the Woodland Hills Hilton on Canoga and get a move on by 6:30 a.m. I am only five minutes from Pierce College where the market takes place, but I know I have to be set up by 7:30 a.m.
The market is already full of activity. I park my Prius where I am directed to unload, but soon find that I cannot remove the key from the dashboard. The back hatch won’t open without it. I can’t unload my display, an IKEA cart that certainly was not designed to be wiggled out the passenger door of a Prius. I know because I tried.
It would not have been so bad if the parking spot I had taken hadn’t turned out to be reserved for another vendor. They arrive in the largest, coolest and campiest RV. It’s a 1990 Fleetwood known as the Soda Pop Shop. It gets seven miles to the gallon.
The cheerful dames in the turquoise RV smile patiently as I call AAA, and the city’s best towing man arrives. As the market’s co-owner waves him in toward my Prius, she says, “Katherine, it’s humming!” It seems the car has mysteriously turned itself back on. After we share some discussion of the mysteries of hybrid engines and some puzzled shrugs, I drive out of the spot and free the space. I park in my reserved spot, and the key comes out.
In Artists Alley, where I am making my debut, there are 26 spaces measuring 10 x 12. After I set up, I notice right away that I have the most diminutive display. It’s cute, but I am lost in this space! I have brought three kinds of tape along, but alas I did not pack chalk; I regret I cannot write “Actual Size” on the asphalt in front of my booth with arrows pointing to my cart.
The market is in motion: After this stop and go start, I am ready to just hang. I come to a full stop. I’m new to this “being a seller at the market” thang. Because I’m so new, I am agog. It’s a different universe! Maybe the word multiverse even applies. What strikes me, abstract thinker that I am, is this distinguishing characteristic: Instead of me wandering through the market, the market wanders by me.
As I look out from my fixed station, illustrating, I am sure, some principle of motion integral to the New Physics, I’ll tell you, it’s trippy. It’s a trippy parade of motorcycle bags and man buns. A woman walks by with a wireframe for a topiary bunny. Look, a wagon, tricked out with some welding and flame decals, is going by. There are picture frames carried on stout shoulders and picture frames carried on slender ones. I see an old Victrola go by and mannequin arms and heads, but no other body parts.
Here is an understatement: there is a lot to see. A fellow walks by with two small succulent plants that look like they have taken the place of his hands. A man carrying a sepia toned globe walks by in cowboy boots and an altered army jacket. He is Asian and has a sizable russet Afro. There are milk crates roped to every conceivable wheeled contraption. Yes, some of those wheels squeak.
Across from me, at the Soda Pop Shop, fans of vintage style grab frocks from the racks and go inside the converted RV’s small restroom quarters to try them on. The clothes, which are sewn by the founders, are based on vintage originals, which is why they are in Artists Alley, and not in the much larger vintage area. It can’t just look vintage. It’s got to be real.
I get a break to join the flow of shoppers for a while and visit a few rows near Artists Alley. Right away, I find some vintage I like. I start talking to a man in front of one of the booths. He is very informative as I ask about this item and that, and gracious when I ask if I can take his picture. When he hands me his card, it turns out—— got to laugh—— that he is an improv and acting coach who also trains people who want to develop people skills. I have mistaken him for a vendor. Turns out he is at the market to buy rusty, vintage bed springs, which he plans to enclose in glass as a windbreak.
Back at my space, I watch again as young and old converge in this stream of humanity, a snapshot of the Valley community and beyond. Babies ride by in every conveyance or are carried on the fronts or backs of their caretakers. Every shade of grey-haired individual with every make and model of walker and cane ambulate. A dandy comes by with a top hat, a black vest, cane and an outlandish moustache. I see a lot of looks I’d like to steal!
I’ll have to make a note that next time around, I should grow out to the edges of my 10 x 12 space or remember to bring the chalk. Maybe I can come up with a clever slogan like TVM’s Sticker Tickets, and snag a few more customers for Preeti’s Handmades.