Finding, observing and occasionally owning a piece of the past is a hobby as much as it is a passion, one practiced by archeologists and bargain hunters with equal …
Finding, observing and occasionally owning a piece of the past is a hobby as much as it is a passion, one practiced by archeologists and bargain hunters with equal enthusiasm. It is behind the current fascination with family history and the growing popularity of websites, such as ancestry.com, and services, such as 23andMe, that render your genetic background with a DNA sample. The past -- ours and others' -- can be a mystery. But unlike the future, it is the kind of mystery that can be solved, stored, shared and enjoyed.
While not everyone is interested in finding out how much Neanderthal DNA they have, secondhand and antique stores offer an easier, cheaper and more tangible link with the old days. These places are a source of vintage furniture, ornaments, music and clothes that preserve like a time capsule the colors, smells and, in a way, the essence of bygone eras.
Whenever I move to a new city, I locate secondhand stores and go for a hunt. Here in Hobbs (six hours south of Taos), we have already found a few treasures at Nana's Collectibles and Antique Mall. Years ago when we moved to Taos, one of my first visits was to Pieces, which had been highly recommended by local bargain hunters. "It's a treasure trove of unique goodies," a friend told me emphatically. She was right.
Among the fantastic items that we got there was a small round table that caught my eye though I wasn't sure we had a place for it. When I took it home, the right spot appeared immediately, but the table looked like it needed a Buddha image to match it.
I couldn't tell why, but I tried several other decorations and none seemed right. Finally, I bought a Buddha sculpture and placed it on top. It was perfect.
Several months later we had a party. One of the guests was a sweet, spiritual lady who noticed the table and exclaimed, "That used to be mine! I took it to Pieces when we moved to a smaller place. And I had a Buddha that looks just like this one." She showed me a photo of her former living room with an almost identical Buddha figure on the table. Strange indeed.
The Habitat ReStore of Taos is better known for its furniture, exercise equipment, light fixtures and building supplies, but there I also found artwork, such as an original "Lady in Blue" by local artist Lloyd Rivera. An ornate steamer trunk, dating from the late 1890s and lined with cedar, turned out great to store wool sweaters.
The venue is a key funding source for the Habitat for Humanity of Taos affiliate's low-income building program. As when buying at the CAV Thrift Store (that provides funding supply to the nonprofit Community Against Violence) making a purchase at the ReStore is shopping for a good cause.
At Ben Trujillo's Taos Fine Consignments & More, we once bought a sturdy leather sofa. (My dog Max later chewed it, but that's another story for another time.) I loved that Señor Trujillo's prices were very reasonable, and he didn't mind lowering them a bit more. Ah, the old and almost forgotten art of bargaining! He had complete bedroom and dining room sets as well as valuable art: R.C. Gorman and Picasso lithographs, originals by Miguel Martinez and authentic Russian icons.
If you are looking for nice clothes, try ReNeux Consignment. Owner and manager Romy Sandoval took it over in 2015 and kept it a chic boutique as it had been under Shawna Yambire. Before moving to Taos, Sandoval worked in the film industry as a wardrobe stylist.
She then focused her creative energy on the store. It wasn't uncommon to find there small-sized, practically new brand-name items, such as a size 4 Madison James dress that I wore to a wedding. I was on a diet for two weeks before I could squeeze in it, but it was worthwhile.
The best part? Sandoval is a true fashion guru. She will honestly tell you if something looks good on you or not.
Still on the topic of fashion, it was a happy day when I discovered, housed in Re-Threads, another gem of a store with an ample collection of sports gear, adult and children's clothes, a lovely corner called The Style Revival. The owner, Johanna DeBiase, a writer and a yoga instructor, has an eye for original clothes.
I remember getting a '20s dress that made me feel and look like a veritable flapper. Want to wear a cool vintage costume this Halloween? Visit The Style Revival. You may even want to keep some of your findings for daily use.
As for music memorabilia, Ennui Gallery has the most interesting vinyl record collection in Taos.
If you are looking for some old fashion charm, try any of these stores. You will give a new life to special items and they, in turn, will enliven your home and space, as well.
The Spanish version of this story is here.
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