Do you ever get the feeling as you peruse Etsy.com or Ebay.com or any of those sites that things are getting out of control? I’m talking about shops and sellers that feature the sale of certain mid-century and mid-century modern furniture, etc. I’m going to be brutally honest, because if you can’t be brutally honest on your own blog, what’s the point of having one?
Having become a shop owner myself, I now have a better understanding of what it takes to score these vintage finds, how much time, driving, gas, and effort is required. The time for sourcing, unloading, refinishing in many cases, cleaning, photographing and listing. Most of my work and time isn’t compensated. I’ll be honest. I do it for the love of the hunt…the thrill of getting something completely unique and cool into the hands of someone who I know will appreciate it. I have been so snarky in the past about pricing being thrifty myself, but since becoming an Etsy shop owner, I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut for the most part. This “job” isn’t easy.
One required task I didn’t mention is research. The more research I do, the more I get this feeling that there are too many delusional sellers out there. Fab.com, 1stdibs.com, even some people selling via Craigslist….I’ll be honest: I LAUGH OUT LOUD at some of the prices I’m seeing these days. Who in their right minds would pay those kinds of prices? I realize that there is a lot of work required in finding these things….and refinishing, and cost associated with outsourcing if the refinishing is beyond your scope or ability. BUT SERIOUSLY. I live in one of the most expensive MCM markets in the country, and I don’t get it. I do, however, get the sneaking suspicion that people are trying to pay the mortgage with the sale of a single chair, for example. Do you feel what I’m puttin’ down?
Allow me to paint a picture. I found a rare Brown Saltman Dining Set….John Keal was the designer, and the set is totally atomic, straight out of the 50’s. Being pregnant, and not able to mess with things like now powdery-foam chairs and refinishing wood with nasty chemicals, I outsourced the refinishing of this piece to a professional. He did such a beautiful job it actually took my breath away. I wish I had an adequate before photo. The seat material was ripped to shreds, and every time you moved the chairs, orange powder spilled out of them (what used to be foam). The wood was scuffed and the finish had seen much better days.
So I had the whole thing refinished….keeping only the maker’s mark and string chair backs untouched. My guy even reattached the Brown Saltman manufacturing tags to the underside of the newly upholstered chairs.
Okay, so are you with me so far? Stunning. The seats are actually a chartreuse color. The photographs give it more of a lime tint, but I assure you the seats are quintessential mid-century mod pops of chartreuse. The wood is a warm and cheery (but still sophisticated) pecan color. Everything is working perfectly….the table pulls out for the leaf extension seamlessly. The chairs. I mean….the legs, the shape. Could you just DIE?
But there are only 3 chairs. Insert sad music here. A bit of a bummer, but I priced accordingly, thinking in today’s market mixing and matching complementing chairs is all the rage anyway. All things considered, this set is currently in my Etsy shop for an affordable and practical $1500.00. So guess what I found AFTER pricing my table and chairs? A set exactly like this one, (I’m not sure how re-finished) only with 4 chairs on 1stdibs.com for……wait for it….wait for it……$4500.00
Excuse me? I’m sorry, what?
I can’t speak for 1stdibs….but the chair pads look original, as does the dirty material they’re finished in. And they want HOW much for this?
Most people don’t spend that kind of money on their first car. No, really – they don’t. And I wouldn’t spend that kind of money on ANY dining room table and chairs. I don’t care if I had enough money to wipe my a** with. It’s just WRONG.
Am I alone here? Hello? I hope I haven’t offended anyone. It just baffles my mind and all I can think of is The Emperor’s New Clothes by Hans Christian Andersen. I’m all about making a little cash-but this is a fleecing, 1stdibs. I hope at some point this MCM mania dies down a bit, and we can all come back down to reality. This stuff should be affordable; just as the original manufacturers and designers intended it to be all those years ago.