Saturday, February 26, 2011

Everything old is new again. Regal Vintage rocks the house.

Come with me, won't you?

Let's take a trip back in time to Regal Vintage.

Like Shangri-La or Brigadoon, Regal Vintage is conspicuously inconspicuous from the outside looking in. But open the door to Regal Vintage and you're transported into a world of retro-cool fashionista possibility.

Let's be honest. Artifacts from the past bring no joie to the vivre without imagination and appreciation. Regal Vintage king James and knight Stephen breathe new life into classic couture. It's apparent the minute you step into the store that you've wandered into a fashion flashback goldmine.

James (the chap on the left) caught the vintage bug when he was very young. Fast forward a decade or two, and he's right where he's most comfortable; kneading new creations out of items from the past, pouring his creativity into designing and refashioning classic pieces into interesting new looks.

Stephen is just as passionate about the value of the past. He holds court as manager and co-conspirator at Regal. Even cooler than the merch is the fact that James and Stephen get it on so many levels.

They see the value, ease and beauty of recycling. Of course you can see the inventory itself as a sparkly, haute homage to seeing the beauty in items that are pre-owned, and the royalty at Regal goes a few steps further.

Everything's recycled at Regal. Even the tags have been used before.

Browse through the rounders and racks and you'll see tags made of candy containers, pizza boxes, so much more.

And what about the merch?

Now's when it's about the photos.

It's the peace and smiley.

Or maybe you're looking to update your look with something unique from the past.

Lots of stuff from which to pick, nicely categorized by decade.

And there's more. Home furnishings, knick-knacks, jewelry, and a bit of an alcove filled with stuff for the kinder.

Lots of hats, too.

And the best men's department.

But my favorite thing at Regal is way in the back.

It looks kind of afterthoughtish.

And I hope James and Stephen don't get pissed if I intend to replicate it this summer.

The perfect summer complement to my coolio back porch will be the super-cheap and ultra-cool Otter Pop idea.

I can't wait to try this idea at home.

Here's another angle. It's so refreshing!

There's so much more to be revealed at Regal. I'd simply suggest to drop by, if you're in or around Denver any time soon.

The kings of retro cool are open somewhere around 11:15 most days of the week. Head down Broadway. 1866 S. Broadway, if you want to get specific.

You'll be transported into a portal of cool.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Hop into my time machine. Let's make a call.

Welcome to my own personal time machine. Look at the pretty, 1970s effervescent colors! Now let's remember how much things have changed between that then and now space.

In my lifetime, music has gone from LP to 8-track to cassette to CD to ipod.

When traveling, we used to refer to a map that rarely folded back to its intrinsically inconvenient paper rectangle form. It was usually somebody's crappy road trip job to re-fold the map, and that job could last for a hundred miles. Now, there's an app for the map. Its knowledge of my whereabouts is creepy and also wildly convenient.

There was a smattering of pap and schmaltz on the four tee vee channels from which we picked, and now it all seems innocently, retrospectively, comfortably charming. 

All things vintage have found a distinct, comfortable niche among collectors. If the Scarcity Principle is referenced (, collecting obsolete items is nothing less than smart. Supply will invariably dwindle, which increases demand.

But there are folks like me who like these familiar relics just because they're cool. Like reflecting on the history of a broken romance, these artifacts were taken for granted when we saw them every day, and they're much more richly appreciated now that they're not around all the time.

Case in point: the old clock we converted into a table. Clocks (and their smaller wristwatch counterparts) are on my list of things that are heading for obsolescence. It's unfortunate, because so much great design has been put into the keeping of time.

We'll always find the time to find the time somewhere, but the atmosphere that's created by a mid-century, grandfather, desk, wall, mantle or anniversary clock can't be replicated by a phone or computer.

And then there's the phone.

I don't have a land line any more, but I enjoy the look and feel of an old phone. I remember the "It's for you!" when the phone rang, and I remember being uncomfortably tethered to the curly cord.

I don't know if our 2011 selves could function within the parameters that were completely normal a decade or two ago.

Recently, my son's friend Amelia and I were sitting in the chairs that flank my clock table. While we were chatting, she mentioned that she liked the phone, but she didn't understand how to dial a number. Do you have to rotate the dial clockwise all the way, with every number?

We faux-dialled, just to replicate the process of making a call, and it seemed to take forever.

It used to seem so fast, but that's all we knew.

My colorful time machine brought me back to the present very quickly.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A total bargain on brand new furniture, and the perplexing nature of Einstein's brain.

My dog Einstein shares many characteristics with his namesake. I'm assuming the real Einstein was eccentric. If dogs can be eccentric, my canine Einstein is all that and more.

When taken on a walk, Einstein (the dog) will not go along unless my other dog Dutch goes, too. And when I take them both for a walk, Dutch will take the time and energy to "p" on virtually anything. Conversely, Einstein won't grace a fire hydrant with even one drop of his precious fluids.

I guarantee that I could take Einstein on a walk from here to Boulder and he'd let go of nothing.

If Einstein were a person, he'd be agoraphobic, with a gentle dusting of OCD. He'd probably silently count every step he takes from room to room. Maybe he'd do a lot of surreptitious hand washing. He'd be wildly passive-aggressive.

But Einstein's a dog. And because he's a dog, he has few outlets to channel his crazy. Somewhere in his cracked little mind, he decided that the slow-yet-thorough consumption of my furniture would be his thing.

The most recent home furnishing Einstein destroyed was my couch. He systematically chewed almost perfectly circular holes in every cushion and pillow.

I'm sure this may have been enough for more rational people to have rethought the idea of keeping the dog before going shopping for a new couch, but just like his human counterpart, Einstein the dog is oddly lovable.

So I went shopping at Goodwill for a new couch.

Imagine my surprise when I found this overstuffed chair and generously sized ottoman! Both pieces had their original Lane brochures attached, the packing material was still affixed to the edges, and the paperwork on the bottom indicated the pair was manufactured in October of 2010. I sat in the chair, and immediately noticed that distinctive New Furniture smell.

Sure, the chair and ottoman wasn't a couch, but the pair was new, beautiful, and would go perfectly in my living room.

The price tag? $150.

Once I got home with my new set and did a bit of research, I learned that this pair is from the Lane Wakefield collection. The chair retails for $1,099.95, and was on sale for $726. The ottoman retails for 599.95, and was on sale for $396. Buy them together, and they list for $1,689.95, on sale for $1,122.

I call that a bargain.

I love this new addition to the living room, but I continue to wonder who brought this fabulous pair to Goodwill in the first place. What was the circumstance? Who would have given away such pricey, brand-new items? Maybe they were a gift, and the recipient didn't like the color? Maybe someone bought these because they thought they'd look good and simply changed their mind? I can't imagine why or how this set landed at a thrift store.

As Einstein the person would say, I guess it's all relative. At the end of the day, one person's discard was my total score.

You can tell from the photo that I'm doing everything in my power to keep the dogs off the furniture. In addition to putting items on the chair and ottoman when they're not in use, I bought the dogs their own little cushiony beds, and put them right next to Einstein's object of desire.


Monday, February 21, 2011

Speak into the microphone.

Yes, I blog.

Admittedly, blogging is self-indulgent. Blogging assumes so much.

It assumes I have something to say.

It presumes I can say it cogently.

Then, there's the wistful assumption that people will actually read what I write.

But I have the technology to podcast.

I'm hooked on podcasts. Podcasts make up the majority of what I listen to every day.

So the prospect of creating my own podcast is wildly compelling.

I spent hours today trying to figure out how to create my podcast. I watched tutorials. I referred to many FAQ sites. I tinkered.

I rarely tinker.

And tonight, I'm spent.

Like any learning curve, I need to take a breather before the next incline. Late in the day, it became glaringly apparent that I'd overstretched my capacity to learn new things.

Maybe tomorrow.

I know I'm not done.

Because, when I searched for a podcast to add to my favorites that pointed a podcasty lens on thrifting, I came up with nothing.

I want to create a podcast about being thrifty.

Off the top of my head, I can think of about a jillion podcast topics.

I just need to figure out how to make my technology turn into a podcast.

I learned a few things today, but I didn't retain much.

It's going to take some time.

So far, I'm only confident that I know I can speak into the microphone.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

What would you do for five bucks? Try a slice of fiverr!

My lovely friend James feeds me fabulous thrifty tips like an innocent-looking grandma slips a nail file into an inmate's Bundt cake. So tasty on the outside, so utilitarian once you sample a slice.

I sampled a buffet of goodness while I researched James' latest list of delicious thrift-related offerings.

The site I'm completely enjoying lately is, which is the place for people to share things they're willing to do for $5.

It's an ingenious concept! So simple, so affordable, so wildly entertaining!

Spend a few minutes browsing and you'll see there's a rich layer of innovative people who are willing to do just about anything for a mere five bucks.

Alex will write and record an original song!

Tod will send me a photo of his adorable kitten, Pepper, striking a pose with a message of my choosing!

Ashley will make me a tasteful hair accessory fashioned from a vintage key!

One gentleman will say or sing anything I want through a paper towel role or toilet paper tube.

There's a gal who will break up with your significant other on your behalf, with a guarantee to make them cry.

A very popular offering is from a gal who will write a message of my choice in alphabet spaghetti on toast. Within just a day or two, I'll receive a jpg image of this tasty missive in my email!

It's not all about quirky novelty fluff on fiverr. There are folks who will write a cover letter, proofread your paper, compose a press release, write a jingle. You can buy five bucks' worth of advice on your squash game, your art design, your home staging, your guitar playing.

There were almost 3,000 pages on the site as I was browsing fiverr today. That's a pretty extensive menu.

It makes the head spin.

And it begs the question: what would you do for five dollars?

You'd have to attract quite an audience to convert that Lincoln into a Franklin, but in these questionable economic times, the right idea might provide a palatable income stream.

This fiverr idea definitely provides food for thought.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

One of our innocuous hobbies: coming up with the perfect band name.

So my kids and I do some chatting. And sometimes those conversations devolve. The chats become random and pointless. And there's a point when we realize this pointlessness occasionally evolves into the construction of a band name.

In walks the random.

"This is crap," Logan says.

"That would be a great band name," I say.

Sometimes I use the "that would be a great band name" as a conversational distraction. A deflection of potential discord.

In any case, the search for the perfect band name is our comfort zone; our occasional familial red herring.

Familial red herring. That would be a good name for a band.

It happens all the time, the list of band names that come up vis a vis our middle-aged-mom vs teenager conversations.

Chris in the Morning is one of my favorites.

So many conversations, so many band names.

And the winner?

It comes from my friend Erin. We were chatting about some innocuous interpersonal issue, and she brought up the best name ever, without even thinking.

Sounding out the crazy.

If I had a band, that's what I'd call it.

It's a good thing, seeing conversation in relation to something randomly contextual.

More meaty entries will follow. But sometimes it's good to keep it light.

I guess I'm just sounding out the crazy.

I wish I knew how to play an instrument.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Second hand goes Top Drawer: Goodwill makes a Swap and Shop fashion splash!

I'm generally a thrifting loner. I take an afternoon of thrifting at my own pace, plug in the ipod and browse. My thrift store excursions are usually a low-key, solitary process.

Coming from that insular place, I had no idea there were so many cool people who shared my passion until last night, when I and four friends headed to the Goodwill Clothing Swap and Fashion Show!

My friend Anne pre-purchased the tickets, which were a mere $10 a pop. And in order to get the Swap ball rolling, everyone who attended was asked to bring 10 fashion items. The ticket price included hors d'oeuvres, guest star Mondo Guerra of Project Runway fame, and a fashion show complete with catwalk. Then, it would be Shop Time!

I couldn't have picked a better group of cool people to go to this event with - so full of energy, enthusiasm, and a complete buy-in when it comes to thrifting. Here we are, just before we left for our Swappy Shoppy event!

Who could have guessed what we found when we arrived? Hoards of people were streaming into the venue, each clutching a bag of swappables. We learned when we signed in that the event was completely sold out, and there was a long line of people who wanted to join in, but the room was full-to-bursting.

Imagine! Surrounded by those of my ken. Hundreds of interesting, receptive people who appreciate the magic of fashion on the cheap as much as I do!

There were tables packed with swag. There were drawings for fabulous giveaways. There were cool people everywhere, each of whom busted the myth that thrifting is the ugly retail stepchild. The recycling, the giving back, the creativity took precedence over the outworn idea that buying items second-hand must mean you're poor.

This crowd got it. Buying second-hand is savvy, on so many levels.

I chatted for a while with Lori, who gave me some great tips on below-the-radar thrifting in Boulder.  Our conversation led me to ask Lori why she thought thrifting was becoming more acceptable - even chic - if last night was any barometer.

Lori suggested that people are becoming more keenly focused on second-hand shopping not only because of the economy, but because it's just smart. Thrifting goes easy on the environment. It generates creativity. It compels folks to reexamine the whole concept of want vs need.

Lori and I had a nice chat.

And we chatted while nibbling on an A-list selection of tasty goodness. What a spread! The food was fabulous, the desserts were stellar. Barb, one of the fabulous members of our caravan of origin, was unapologetic when she announced that she was trying one of everything.

The tempo of the evening ramped up an octave when it was announced that Mondo Guerra was in the house.

Mondo was locally grown here in Denver, but after a memorable season on Project Runway, he's become quite the fashionista. And if last night was any indication, he has quite a following. The line for photos and autographs was serpentine.

I did stand in line, for what seemed like ever. Just as I got within spitting distance (although I would never do such a thing), those of us who remained were told we were denied our Mondo moment. The show, as they say, must go on.

And the next part of the show was all about the fashion. Mondo judged the designs of several local women who'd created unique, very haute and cool fashions, and each had their catwalk moment. The winner was a sassy yet demure 15-year-old who definitely deserved to win. She has some fashion chops, and last night she received a whole lot of validation.

While the crowd of thrift-lovers had been eating, chatting, snagging swag in big orange bags, marveling at Mondo, and taking in the fashion show, the Goodwill folks had been setting up a bit of a Swap Store from the items we'd all provided.

It was time to trade up!

Barb and Lynda had wound their way to the Swap Portal. They were primed to get the good merch.

And the Shop portion of the evening didn't disappoint.

We all found some really great stuff. We left with items we'll undoubtedly use more than we'd use the items we'd brought.

Best of all, it sounds like we may keep this swap idea going.

Kits were distributed outlining how to create a swap akin to last night's event. The kit is great, but the idea is simple with or without instructions.

Anne, Barb, Melissa, Lynda and I resolved to have a swap gathering. Maybe more than one. Sans Mondo, most likely.

How easy! How fun! Nothing to lose, everything to gain!

Last night was so great, on so many levels. Channel 7 and Goodwill definitely proved that they know how to throw a party. Judging from the crowd, it's obvious there's a huge interest in the creativity and good intention that comes from sharing. Essentially, that's what thrifting is.

And I was shown that I'm not as alone in this second-hand game as I thought.

It's good to know we're everywhere.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

I can't have it? Now I want it even more! Getting schooled on the Scarcity Principle

So a week or two ago, I wandered into my son Connor's room, and I noticed he'd scrawled The Scarcity Principle on his chalkboard.

I made a mental note.

Last night, we had the opportunity to chat about random stuff, and I asked him to explain this principle to me.

He had such an interesting, cogent explanation of this principle. And while he was talking, I was wondering why I hadn't heard about this concept before now.

So I did a bit of an unscientific poll.

And no one I asked knew anything about the Scarcity Principle.

For a moment, I was relieved.

And then I did some research.

Apparently this Scarcity Principle is everywhere. And that's what's so amazing - the fact that so few people know what it is, including me, until today.

But we all know what it is, even if we don't know it.

When it comes to economics, the Scarcity Principle boils down to supply and demand.

Sounds simple enough.

According to Investopedia, the Scarcity Principle in terms of supply and demand creates a perceived need that's driven by the limited amount of whatever it is that everyone seems to want.

Perceived is italicized for a reason.

Because, according to the Advertising and Marketing Psychology course on, the psychology behind the Scarcity Principle dovetails with the Pleasure Principle to create a muddy mix of fear, greed and envy. This soup of emotion that surrounds our need for things creates an unsavory menu of supply and demand that's very rigid. Very predictable.

So predictable that this Scarcity Principle is passed along as a sales tool for folks who are actively attempting to affect their bottom line.

According to, "In a perfect world, there would exist equilibrium. Meaning there is exactly the right amount of customer demand for a product or service and exactly the right amount of supply for that same product or service. It is too bad we do not live in a perfect world. But a non-perfect world means opportunity!"


This Scarcity Principle obviously has a broad reach when it comes to driving the economic market when it comes down to generating need by manufacturing it. Which speaks to our collective and apparently highly profitable feeling of lack. Which creates an environment of want. Which drives the need to fill the hole. Which creates the market for stuff.

Replace the Scarcity Principle into a panoply of other contexts, and the result is the same. The more I can't have something, according to the principle, the more I want it.

The Scarcity Principle is the backbone of advertising and marketing (Limited Time Only! Only 100 available!).

It's in how we choose to see ourselves in relation to each other (social envy - "If the Jones family got that new car, then we should have one, too, dang it!). As an article titled Principle of Influence: Scarcity put it, "The pleasure isn't gained from using the resource. It is gained by merely having the resource."

And that resource isn't always necessarily a thing. The Scarcity Principle is applied with frequency in the workplace. It's there in how some people parent their kids. It's how some people navigate their  relationships.

The more I read about this principle, the more I see how it seems to be everywhere.

But the key word there, to me, is seems.

Because, despite the fact that a principle is, by its very definition, a fundamental truth, does that mean we all have to simply accept our fear-, envy-, lack-driven sensibilities?

I don't think so.

Just because this principle seems to be everywhere, manipulating us at every turn, it doesn't mean we have to defer to that manipulation. Despite what seems to be fairly solid evidence that this is an insidious, pervasive principle, I do think we still have the ability to choose, discern, accept, reject.

We're not as powerless as this principle might suggest.

I'm so grateful that Connor is aware of this principle. Because knowledge is power, and even though he might have to bump up against some lemmings as he's swimming upstream, it's good to know he has this knowledge early.

And I'm glad I noticed The Scarcity Principle scrawled on his chalkboard a week or two ago.

My son unknowingly taught me a very valuable lesson.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

What makes working fun? Maybe it's the outfit.

Those crazy mascots who advertise on behalf of everything from sandwiches to tax services look like they're having so much fun!

Can we people who don't wear such conspicuous outfits say as much when we punch into work?

Which begs the question:

What's the true measure of success as it relates to employment during these troubling economic times?

Ideally, success is measured by being paid handsomely for doing something you're already passionate about.

Next down the tier, success may mean making enough money to create a comfortable world that you experience while you're not at work. This involves having passions that exceed the mundane melange of responsibilities that may confront you from 8 to 5.

Further down on the Ideal Job scale are professions which provide neither soul food nor a comfortable amount of cash. But these jobs offer certain future creature comforts. Health insurance is good, in case you get sick. A 401k might be nice, once you retire. An occasional raise is pleasant.

And then there are those folks who really have to dress up to go to work, and for the most part, depending on the level of disguise, they look like they might be having a whole lot more fun than the rest of us.

The person dressed as a Quiznos beverage cup.

The Grease Monkey monkey suit person.

The more identifiable person, dressed as the State of Liberty, schlepping a company in a nearby strip mall that can do your taxes.

That completely identifiable guy spinning a sign that advertises some new apartment complex that's free for the first month.

Apparently, this street corner advertising works. According to, businesses see a dramatic increase in their bottom line when they spend their advertising dollar on someone who spins a sign; someone who's willing to dress as a cup, a monkey, a national monument.

So interesting.

I feel a certain level of compassion and curiosity, and just a touch of envy when I drive by these folks.

I don't have a hankering for a toasted sub, I don't wonder about my last oil change, and I definitely don't consider a tax company as being a touch more legitimate or trustworthy because it chooses to hire someone to dress like Lady Liberty.

But based on my research, I imagine I'm in the minority.

And based on the level to which these folks choose to invest in what they're doing, I think they might be having more fun at their jobs than I do at mine.

Who's the smart one?

I'm sure these animes wish they were doing something else. But there are some who look like they're having so much fun, what with the dancing, the role-playing, the spinning.

There's probably not a whole lot of short- or long-term comfort in the Dress As Something That Will Catch an Eye job, especially depending on the weather. Who wants to be dressed as Lady Liberty when it's snowing? Who wants to assume the persona of a beverage cup when it's 95+ degrees outside?

And there's probably no 401k. There are few performance-based raises in your future when you're dressed like a human-sized beverage. There are, most likely, not a whole bunch of stories out there about how "once I was spinning a sign, and now I'm the CEO."

Long and short, these prospects may not be a great addition to the resume.

Based on what I've read, these conspicuous, entertaining jobs don't seem to hold a whole bunch of job security.

But when it comes to the bottom line - for both employer and the employed - getting dressed up for work in their world looks like a whole lot of fun.