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Antiques, Nostalgia, and the Holidays

December 8, 2015

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I wrote this article as a part of the series that I write for our local newspaper, the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin. The series focuses on antiques as seen through the focus of our Shady Lawn Antiques business. This article was published on Sunday, December 6, 2015.

The Holidays are perhaps the most nostalgic time of the year. They are a combination of: family, friends, traditions, customs, religion, and memories of the past.
Each year when people open their plastic storage totes and pull out the first decorations, the memories of Holidays also waft out. It seems that most everyone has at least one of grandma’s antique decorations tucked away. Thus antiques and the holidays are intertwined even if you never thought about it that way.
At Shady Lawn Antiques we have noticed that antiques are always popular during the holidays. Early in the season people are upgrading their home furnishings before they do their entertaining. In fact one couple annually buys one large piece of antique furniture for their home as a gift to each other.
We are seeing a growing trend of displaying antique Christmas decorations in non-traditional ways. For example a complete set of glass ornaments maybe displayed in its original box and not even put on a tree. Ornaments are also being displayed in clear glass bowls and on trays. Another trend is toward decorating several small (under two foot) trees, each with a different theme.
Customers tell me that they are delighted to give and receive antique items. They believe those gifts show that thought and care was given to finding and selecting them. They say that antiques, by virtue of their longevity, have demonstrated their quality of construction and materials.

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Circa 1930s felt body, composition head Santa

My friend, Doug, often comes into SL and says ‘tell me a story’. Well here are some Shady Lawn holiday shopping stories… Perhaps one of greatest male shoppers that I have ever known brings his wife through SL each fall. While they discuss what they like, he makes mental note and then ‘sneaks’ back for the ultimate surprise gift. (Once he even talked me into delivering a piece of furniture at seven in the morning for an anniversary surprise.)
Perhaps my favorite antique gift idea is both creative and inexpensive. We have several individuals that purchase fancy individual china plates. They put homemade cookies and goodies on them and give them away, plate and all.
Each year we have people that purchase large items and leave them at SL until Christmas Eve so they can be a surprise. One year I had to tell a woman that I had sold the item that she was looking at (even though I had sold it to her husband)…
Another woman likes to buy one antique Christmas tree ornament each year. It is a fun challenge for her to find one that is different from what she already has.One family has ‘moved beyond individual gift giving’ but still likes to decorate a Christmas tree. They put a train and antique toys from their youth (or earlier) under the tree as decorations.
We have a family that has comes in every year on the hunt for the perfect Christmas stocking stuffer. Their tradition is that it has to be an antique that is priced under $5. I am always amazed at what they find!
Please take time to visit our locally owned great Walla Walla antique shops this holiday season. You will enjoy the nostalgia and great offerings away from the hustle bustle and the bright lights of the big stores.

Dave Emigh is the owner of Shady Lawn Antiques and is a fifth generation ‘Walla Wallan’. He writes about antiques and life in the ‘Valley of the Two Wallas’ on his blog: http://www.wallawallalocal.wordpress.com. Glimpses of the ever changing Shady Lawn inventory can also be seen on Facebook.

Blogs… Technology, Social Media, and the Changing Times

December 6, 2015

IMG_1798I began writing this blog to tell the story of life in Walla Walla, Shady Lawn Antiques, and perhaps a bit of family life.  The blog was fun and was serving its purpose very well… and then the iPhone and Facebook came along.  The ease of taking a picture and making a quick Facebook post with an iPhone makes it that much more difficult for me to sit down at a computer to write a longer blog post.  Then just when I’m comfortable with Facebook, my children tell me that I should really be on instagram…

I have also been writing an Antiques Column for our local paper, the Walla Walla Union Bulletin.  The WWUB calls it an occasional column.  In my mind it is monthly, but in reality the WWUB is correct.

My interest, or motivation, or ? for writing a blog has diminished due to the combination of writing longer columns for the newspaper and shorter Facebook posts.  It has therefore been months since I have written a blog post.

Moving forward, I may not be making many original blog posts but I do hope to be more diligent in posting my WWUB articles here.  If you would like to see more frequent updates I would suggest that you “like” Shady Lawn Antiques on Facebook and follow me there.  I think that you can link to my Facebook posts (if you are not a registered Facebook member) through the Shady Lawn Antiques website.

My next post will be my latest WWUB column and then I will post previous columns… BTW I’m still not on instagram.

Shady Lawn Antiques in Walla Walla Celebrates 20 Years of Business

April 6, 2015

I wrote this article as a part of the series that I write for our local newspaper, the Walla Walla Union-Bulletion. The series focuses on antiques as seen through the focus of our Shady Lawn Antiques business. This article was published on Sunday, March 1, 2015.

March 2014 (4)Twenty Years of Shady Lawn Antiques

We have just completed our twentieth year of selling antiques in the butterscotch yellow colored Shady Lawn Creamery buildings. The buildings were not always this color and the family business was not always antiques.

My great-grandfather, Ward Emigh, purchased the Walla Walla Creamery 1897. When his son John took over in 1922, the business was renamed Shady Lawn Creamery. It continued to operate as a creamery until my mother, Mary Emigh retired. My wife Jill and I purchased the industrial gray Shady Lawn Creamery buildings and opened the antiques shop in December 1994.

One hundred and eighteen years later the Emigh family is still doing business in the same location. The exterior industrial gray building color did not reflect the vibrant antique business that was being conducted inside so we looked for an alternative. A butterscotch yellow 1920-30s metal Shady Lawn Ice Cream sign provided a historically sensitive inspiration and the color match for the new exterior paint scheme.

Each year we take stock of where our business is and what we would like to accomplish in the year to come. The completion of twenty years in the antiques business has prompted me to reflect upon the state of the antiques business in general and specifically the trends over the past twenty years.

The antiques business was significantly different twenty years ago. There were still a large group of people that collected categories of things and were always looking to add something they didn’t have to their collection. We used to hear ‘I collect: dolls, cookie jars, cut glass, depression glass, Roseville pottery, metal spice or tobacco containers (tins)’, and so on. Some people only collected one category but many had several interests.

When we opened Shady Lawn Antiques the antique mall concept was quite popular. The idea was that the mall owner would rent each dealer a space and then also collect a commission on the sales. The mall owner ran the shop and the dealer’s responsibility was to keep their booth arranged and stocked. The theory was that with more dealers, more new inventory would be available.

Since we had more building space than we had antiques to sell, we opened Shady Lawn as an antique mall. Over time we acquired more things and especially more large pieces of furniture. As dealers moved on for one reason or another, we took over the space. From a humble beginning of perhaps one hundred items, our inventory now numbers in the thousands.

The antiques show circuit was strong and vibrant when we began in 1994. There was at least one show per month somewhere in the state. Several of the more prestigious shows had more than two hundred vendors and they even had a waiting list of new vendors that wanted to get in.

Then the advent of the internet and especially eBay sparked the biggest single change in the antiques market ever. Suddenly items that were considered rare could be found on a regular basis. People no longer had to ‘snap something up’ right when they found it. The shows and shops that emphasized collectible, generally small, items began a steady decline. I’ve often heard long time dealers say that the antique business just isn’t the same anymore and it isn’t!

There is still a market for truly unique and especially historical items but the current trend is toward functional and decorative items. The majority of our showroom is now dedicated to fully restored oak furniture and in fact we have the largest selection in Eastern Washington.

We also began building functional and whimsical furniture from reclaimed materials over ten years ago, well before the current upcycled and industrial design trend began. Individuals and wineries are incorporating these pieces, as functional statement pieces, into their own unique styles.

Shady Lawn Antiques has grown and evolved over the past twenty years. We look back at the collectibles era with a bit of nostalgia but we look ahead with even greater excitement to the new Pinterest Look era! We still have a passion for restoring and saving antique furniture but have an even greater passion for the future. We are proud to have been ‘Makers’ even before the advent of the recent ‘Makers Culture’ trend began.

Dave Emigh is the owner of Shady Lawn Antiques and is a fifth generation ‘Walla Wallan’. He writes about antiques and life in the ‘Valley of the Two Wallas’ on his blog: http://www.wallawallalocal.wordpress.com. Glimpses of the ever changing inventory can also be seen on Facebook.

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin Antiques Article – New Year at Shady Lawn Antiques

January 19, 2015

I wrote this article as a part of the series that I write for our local newspaper, the Walla Walla Union-Bulletion.  The series focuses on antiques as seen through the focus of our Shady Lawn Antiques business.  This article was published on Sunday, January 18, 2015.

Recently restored early 1900's Oak Vanity.  No power tools or any chemical strippers were used during the  restoration.

Recently restored early 1900’s Oak Vanity. No power tools or any chemical strippers were used during the restoration.

New Year at Shady Lawn Antiques

 

January marks the beginning of the New Year at Shady Lawn Antiques but it hasn’t always been so. My wife Jill and I were both educators before we opened Shady Lawn and as such, the New Year always began in September.   It only took a year in business before our sense of the New Year was reset to the spring. In the spring the weather got nicer, people began cleaning out their storage and a bigger source of ‘new’ inventory became available. There was also just a general ‘stirring’ as people started getting out going to antique shops and to the (then widely popular) antique shows.

 

Over a period of the last ten years our business has evolved to the point where Shady Lawn has become known for high quality antique furniture. Adding to this recognition is our philosophy that every piece of furniture we sell must be ready for immediate use. That is, it must be both structurally and cosmetically sound without any defect that we must apologize for. The restoration of furniture to that quality level takes a significant amount of time.

 

Further, major restorations take big hunks of uninterrupted time. So several years ago, we took the gamble that we could close the sales area from Christmas until February to restore furniture and that we could ‘make-up’ the sales later in the year.

 

Further we also found that a Wednesday through Saturday sales ‘week’ seems just as effective for our type of business. So furniture restoration is now also the focus on our ‘closed days’ of Monday and Tuesday. It should be noted that we only restore our own furniture and we do not offer restoration as an option for the public.

 

We are currently in the midst of our winter closure and our furniture restoration binge. Fortunately this change of pace invigorates me. I enjoy the mental challenge of creating solutions to the problems that are inherent in every restoration. It is also a physical challenge to see how much we can accomplish… if we are not going to be open to sell things we’d better get something ready to sell.

 

This daily schedule of focusing entirely on woodworking also sparks my creative side.  My thought process just naturally flows from the project at hand to designing my next re-purposed wood project/creation. A re-purposed wood and metal table design is percolating in my mind and may pop out as a finished project before we reopen…

 

Our current focus is on working through the restoration of some oak storage cabinets we acquired this past year. Then we will select a few of the more unique pieces of furniture from our archival storage to restore.

 

With the more ‘furniture forward’ business model our sense of the New Year now corresponds directly with the calendar. We start our New Year by building up our inventory so we have an interesting mix of new items for our customers to see. We organize our new items into interesting coherent displays and then open in February for our New Year! Until then you can monitor our progress on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ShadyLawnAntiques .

 

 

Dave Emigh is the owner of Shady Lawn Antiques and is a fifth generation ‘Walla Wallan’. He writes about antiques and life in the ‘Valley of the Two Wallas’ on his blog: http://www.wallawallalocal.wordpress.com.

This is the Oak Vanity before restoration. Nick is carefully scraping off old finish.

This is the Oak Vanity before restoration. Nick is carefully scraping off the old finish.

 

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin Antiques Article… The Boys in the Boat

January 18, 2015

I wrote this article as a part of the series that I write for our local newspaper, the Walla Walla Union-Bulletion.  The series focuses on antiques as seen through the focus of our Shady Lawn Antiques business.  This article was published in the late Fall of 2014.

The interior of my George Pocock built cedar racing shell

The interior of my George Pocock built cedar racing shell

The Boys in the Boat – and the George Pocock Wooden Racing Shell

Antiques, fine woodworking, and rowing are three of my great passions and for the most part they are unrelated. However they have recently become intertwined…

The book, ‘The Boys in the Boat’, was recently named as number one on the New York Times nonfiction bestseller list. It was written by Daniel James Brown. The book tells the story of nine University of Washington rowers and their quest for the Gold Medal in the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

A prominent figure in the book was George Pocock. He was a third generation racing shell (boat) builder. Brown describes that during the 1930’s, Pocock built shells in the UW boathouse and that he was an advisor to the coaches and to the oarsmen.

Pocock was a religious man but he also felt a strong spiritual connection to rowing. By the time that I began rowing in the 1970’s it was evident the rowing community also had a strong connection to Pocock. He was held in such high esteem that when any rower used the single name George, it was automatically assumed to be Pocock.

This summer people began coming into Shady Lawn Antiques to see the Pocock cedar racing shell that is hanging from the ceiling, in the back of the shop. I was a bit puzzled about the sudden interest because the shell had been hanging there for twenty years.

It turned out that there were at least two book clubs in Walla Walla that were reading ‘The Boys in the Boat’.   They were interesting in seeing a racing shell that George Pocock had built… so here is the story of my shell.

I ordered a single scull (one-man racing shell) from Pocock Racing Shells, Seattle in 1974. By that time George’s son, Stan, was in charge of the daily operation of the company. George continued to build the single sculls and he completed mine when he was 83 years old. My scull is one of the last three that George built.

It is made from a single plank of western red cedar that is over 26 ½ feet long. The completed single weighs approximately thirty-five pounds with the seat and riggers (to hold the sculls). The design of the Pocock racing singles was unchanged for over fifty years making my shell appear to be even older than it is.

By the 1980s racing shells were no longer made of varnished wood and an era had passed. In the Antiques World an item tends to be called an “antique” when the design, the method of manufacture, or the construction material changes. By that definition, my cedar single has become an antique and my passions are being woven more closely together.

The single is now forty years old and it has been rowed well over five thousand miles. Even so, the attention to detail and the quality of George’s craftsmanship are still clearly evident. George is/was an inspiration to me not only as a rower but also as a fine woodworker/craftsman.

“for him (Pocock) the craft of building a boat was like religion. It wasn’t enough to master the technical details of it. You had to give yourself up to it spiritually; you had to surrender yourself absolutely to it. When you were done and walked away from the boat, you had to feel that you had left a piece of yourself behind in it forever, a bit of your heart.”
Daniel James Brown, The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics

Please come into Shady Lawn Antiques and see my George Pocock built, varnished western red cedar, racing shell. It is truly a work of art!

Dave Emigh is the owner of Shady Lawn Antiques and is a fifth generation ‘Walla Wallan’. He writes about antiques and life in the ‘Valley of the Two Wallas’ on his blog: http://www.wallawallalocal.wordpress.com.

Notice the humble Pocock Racing Shells decal and sliding wooden seat

Notice the humble Pocock Racing Shells decal and sliding wooden seat

Stan Pocock was 91 years old when he died December 15, 2014.  Less than a month earlier a relative of his came into Shady Lawn to look at antiques and commented on the racing shell.  He told me that his cousin was married to Stan.  He then called his cousin and when Stan was on his cell phone, he handed it to me.  I was fortunate to be able to tell him how impressed the readers of the book are with George, the Pocock family, and their outstanding racing shells.  I told him about the (this) article that I had written.  Stan said that the workers in his shop always called his father Mr. George, out of respect.  He also mentioned that the book was so well written that the race descriptions gave him a tingle of excitement even though he knew the results.

I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to have had one last conversation with a truly humble and distinguished legend of rowing.

the Colors of Fall in Walla Walla…

November 11, 2014

In the past I have posted an number of photographs from my walks to and from our  store, Shady Lawn Antiques, here in Walla Walla.  This Fall I have been walking around our neighborhood a lot.IMG_4067

The Fall colors in WW are always outstanding but they don’t often last as long as they have this year.  We just had our first frost last night which is a full month later than the average first frost.IMG_4090

The houses in our neighborhood are all well over 100 years old and so are many of the trees.  Mixed in are a number of newer trees that have been planted as future replacements for the stately old trees.  The newer trees are smaller and that makes it easier to get some nice close-up pictures of the leaves.IMG_4126

I hope that you enjoy these pictures.IMG_4174

the Buzz of Bees in Walla Walla in Spring….

May 27, 2014

Earlier this Spring I was taking pictures of the blossoms on our apple tree and a bee flew into the picture frame.  Since then I have noticed a number of bees on my walks to and from Shady Lawn Antiques.

One day I went on a ‘bee hunting safari’ at the Community Garden across the street from SL.  Now I don’t want to get all biological because I’ll just embarrass myself but I noticed that the bees approached each flower differently.  268

They seemed to dart around the small yellow and white flowers and lumber around the purple ones.  That made taking bee pictures different at each plant.  Sometimes I would try to find a bee and follow it as it landed on a flower.  Others times I would focus on the flower and wait for a bee.049

I am especially happy when I can get both a bee in flight and a flower in focus in the same picture.210

It seems logical but I found that the more bees that there were around a plant, the better chance I had to get a good picture.  So I started looking for plants that were attracting a lot of bees.

I never really thought about bee-havior before I went on my ‘bee hunting safari’ .  So a major observation, for me, was that the bees will hone in on any one type of plant for maybe just one or two days.  Then the concentration of bees will buzz off to another plant.274

Well that is more than I knew about bees a couple of weeks ago… I hope that you enjoy the pictures!