Support your local small businesses this holiday season

shop small business local

December 2022

Everything Old

Support your local small businesses this holiday season

by Corbin Crable

 

Ideal gift for that special someone

If you’re still looking for the ideal gift for that special someone on your holiday shopping list, don’t log onto a website or head to some crowded department store. Quite often, the gift you’re looking for – and many gifts you didn’t even know you needed – are right around the corner at small merchants in town.

Gently loved items

Not only are antique stores places where gently loved items are waiting to find a new life; they’re places that specialize in unique finds that make just the right statement about the gift recipient. That’s what the holidays are all about – showing people you care and that they play a meaningful role in your life, whether they’re your Aunt Gloria in Winfield or your best friend from college, now living across the state line. In these days of disposable moments on social media, we hope you’ll hit up your local antique store for that item steeped in incredible craftsmanship and high quality – that antique that has withstood decades of Christmases and has been built to withstand many, many more.

Handmade crafts and Locally sourced goods

Or, just as thoughtful is a gift from any number of small, independently owned merchants, shops, galleries, bakeries or restaurants. In this and every issue of Discover Vintage America, you’ll find page after page of events and sales just bursting with handmade crafts and locally sourced goods lovingly made by artisans who use their talents to bring gifts to glorious life. The care put into making these items really do speak to the passion and dedication that artists and crafters pour into their creations. They’re meant to be shared, to be loved, to be used, and to be enjoyed for a long time to come. I wish I were only half as creative as the people who create such dazzling works – art, jewelry, sculpture, crafts, and clothing, to name only a few. Thankfully, their works, with their creative energy, are able to say to my friend or family member what I cannot.

Power of Community

These items and the people who make and sell them are also constant reminders of the power of community. They’re members of a network of people you see and socialize with every day. They’re the ones who greet you with a warm smile and ask how your grandchildren’s soccer season has been going. They’re the ones who hug you in thanks for your support and friendship. They’re the ones who cry with you when times are tough, and they’re the ones who rejoice with you when there’s good news to share.

As a holiday shopper, you can feel good about shopping locally. You’re not just supporting your neighbors and friends; you’re keeping your dollars in your community. They’re dollars that help families in your community thrive and grow. Here, amid the season of giving, that’s something that benefits us all.

So, as you venture out into winter’s chill, shopping list in hand, don’t pass those local merchants by, because as much as you need that perfect gift, they need you, too, to help them build a more vibrant place to live.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to you, and I look forward to seeing you in the new year.

Contact Corbin Crable at editor@discovervintage.com​

Malls remain a reminder of shopping  in the pre-Amazon era

Malls remain a reminder of shopping in the pre-Amazon era

Photo by Ron Dauphin on Unsplash

November 2022

Everything Old

Malls remain a reminder of shopping in the pre-Amazon era

by Corbin Crable

 

Mall Shopping

This year, as most of us log onto the Internet to do our Christmas shopping, some of us will hop in the car and drive down the street to go to that once-grand institution of American consumer culture, the shopping mall.

Obviously, malls have seen a dramatic decrease in business since that behemoth Amazon came onto the shopping scene. But if you’re one of the few who plan to make the trek out into the real world, you’ll see that malls are still crowded with harried shoppers this time of year – well, at least that’s the situation here in the Kansas City metro area, where you’ll be forced to navigate a full parking lot just to get into Oak Park Mall in Overland Park.

When I was a teenager, I worked at the AMC Oak Park Mall 6 Theatres, as well as the Oak Park Plaza 6, just across the street. It was always a delight to see shoppers pass by the box office and make the impulse purchase of a movie ticket – a welcome break from the rigors of holiday shopping. The Oak Park Mall Theatres closed on New Year’s Eve 1996, making way for the American Girl doll store, which is now just a place where you go to vote in an election year.

Great Mall

The following year, in 1997, the Great Mall of the Great Plains opened in Olathe. The timing of this opening couldn’t have been worse, as it coincided with the rise of the Internet and online shopping themselves.

If you ever visited the Great Mall, you remember what an eyesore it was, leaving the shopper feeling like being dropped into an episode of “Romper Room.” The garish colors and liberal use of neon lighting gave the entire venue a very ‘90s feel, and the race-track floor design ideas that shoppers never seemed to fully embrace. The entire structure, from its exterior signage and other industrial-esque features jutting sharply out into the skyline, to its late-20th century color scheme of loud, harsh neon everywhere you looked on the inside, trapped the mall in a very specific time in architectural and interior design. The Great Mall has been closed since 2015.

Then again, the same may obviously be said of most malls that remain untouched by renovations – they exist as time capsules, windows into another decade

The now-defunct Metcalf South Mall, which was open from 1967 to 2014, enjoyed a lengthier life, and those who frequented the mall will remember its salmon pink-colored features, midcentury modern fountains, and chrome and mirrored ceilings. Even long after the stores had closed, dedicated mall walkers could still be seen doing laps around each floor of it before it was finally demolished a few years ago.

Digital Age

Still, even in the Digital Age, other malls in the Kansas City metro area – among them, Oak Park Mall and Ward Parkway Shopping Center – have enjoyed a kind of renaissance in the past generation, seeing numbers of shoppers coming back into their stores even as the popularity of online vendors continues to ascend. It shows us that, perhaps, the idea of the mall as social gathering place isn’t yet in its death throes. That’s heartening news for those of us who still love finding a good deal in person – or those of us who just get an errant craving for a soft pretzel now and then.

Happy shopping, and I’ll see you at the mall!

Contact Corbin Crable at editor@discovervintage.com​

These Halloween candies still fill us with terror, but some still view them as treats

These Halloween candies still fill us with terror, but some still view them as treats

Photo courtesy of Pinterest.

October 2022

Everything Old

These Halloween candies still fill us with terror, but some still view them as treats

by Corbin Crable

 

Halloween candies

Anytime of year, those of us with a sweet tooth can easily name the candies we always searched for within the depths of our plastic jack-o’-lantern after a night of trick-or-treating on Halloween. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Snickers bars. Skittles. Or those older favorites, such as fruit slices, Tootsie Rolls and caramel apple pops.

But I’d wager it’s just as easy for you to recall those candies you hated finding in your bucket – those sugary, unwelcome denizens of your Halloween haul. Sure, they still have their ardent defenders who will sing their praises, but they are just as widely disliked. As a kid, you knew to skip those houses that distributed these candies every year.

Listed below are just a few personal votes for entries on my “blech!” list. They might just be on yours, too.

Candy corn:

Although they are synonymous with the holiday of Halloween, these tiny nuggets of sugar are divisive because they’re overly sweet and their texture is akin to candle wax. Much like that one loud, slightly tipsy aunt or uncle who keeps crashing your Thanksgiving dinner the month after Halloween, I feel as if people simply keep candy corn on hand because they feel obligated to do so.

 

Black licorice:

Good & Plenty are an especially egregious entry on the “candies to be avoided” list, their delightful white and purple coating concealing a stomach-turning surprise of the worst kind. Also included in this category is the licorice-flavored Beemans Black Jack Gum, invented in the late 19th century, discontinued in the 1970s, and produced once again beginning in 1986. My late Aunt Cora loved Black Jack, and though the sight of those sticks of gum make me think fondly of her, the taste is something I’d rather forget.

If you’re a fellow hater of black licorice, you know exactly what I mean.

Sweetarts:

The modern-day, bite-sized version of the Necco Wafer (the king of horrid Halloween candies for more than 150 years), these pastel-colored, chalky tasting candies also have equal numbers of fans and detractors. You can get the same sensation eating bits of drywall sprayed with a light mist of something vaguely smelling like fruit. The bank where my parents did business for years used to give out a small roll of Sweetarts to kids who came in with their parents.

Wax Lips:

I shouldn’t even acknowledge Wax Lips with space in this column – since they’re not even candy – but, like so many products and trends of that most garish, tacky decade of the 1970s, they remain part of our collective societal consciousness.

If, for whatever reason, you’ve ever wanted to look like Jocelyn Wildenstein but lack the financial resources needed to procure extensive plastic surgery, Wax Lips provide a quick fix.

At any rate, these are just a few examples of Halloween “treats” to which the alternative option, “tricks,” are infinitely preferable. I’m sure you have your own! Feel free to e-mail me with your own additions to the list, and enjoy a safe, happy Halloween in the meantime.

Contact Corbin Crable at editor@discovervintage.com​

Vintage movie theaters hold cherished memories

Vintage movie theaters hold cherished memories

Photo by Lloyd Dirks on Unsplash

September 2022

Everything Old

Vintage movie theaters hold cherished memories

by Corbin Crable

 

We all have our own memories of going to the movies – that place where you could sit in silence, in the dark, and laugh or cry with the characters onscreen, your own troubles melting away like the ice in the cup of soda you held in your hand. Maybe you were on a date, cozied up next to your first boyfriend or girlfriend, feeling her grip your hand tightly during a scary scene, or feeling him wrap his arm around you.

You can still relive those memories, thanks to vintage movie theaters in your area that have, thankfully, been preserved thanks to the funds and care by hard-working teams of people, lovers of both movies and history.

If you live in the Overland Park area, you well remember the original Glenwood Theatre, which opened its doors to the public in

November 1966, looked opulent and grand. Everything about the Glenwood was a feast for the senses – the scent of fresh popcorn popping, the employees clad in their vest-and-bow tie combo, the feel of velvet ropes under your fingers, the chatter of excited moviegoers.

The number of these small, independent movie theaters shrinks by the year as they compete with the convenience of home viewing. They need our help to continue bringing this magic to audiences. Showing your support with your spending dollars is perhaps the greatest way you can show your support.

Donating to them directly is even better. And many of these beloved gems of our community have boosted their fundraising efforts in the past few years, renting out auditoriums for personal screenings or hosting other events, such as musical acts.

It’s no secret that here at Discover Vintage America, we often trumpet the need for shoppers to lend their
support to small businesses. Vintage movie theaters are no exception. If they are to keep their projector bulbs lit up and the popcorn popping, they need us to show up for them. They’re a place where we created lifelong memories – and we can create more memories still.

If you don’t have any plans for the weekend, see a flick at your local independent movie theater. Not only will you be able to relive those days gone by; you’ll be supporting your own community, too. And that’s a good feeling that lasts long after the film’s final credits have rolled and the auditorium lights come back up.

Author’s disclosure: Corbin is the social media manager for The Glenwood Arts Theatre in Overland Park, KS.

Contact Corbin Crable at editor@discovervintage.com​

Shopping for school supplies  sparked excitement, anticipation

Shopping for school supplies sparked excitement, anticipation

Photo by Kiy Turk on Unsplash

August 2022

Everything Old

Shopping for school supplies sparked excitement, anticipation

by Corbin Crable

 

New academic year

Though we’ll soon be enjoying the final vestiges of summer, there’s another big event about which to be excited: the beginning of a new academic year.

Parents, of course, will soon rejoice because their kiddos will finally be out of the house for a while, and the kiddos themselves will be back at school, learning and finding their way into good-natured mischief with their friends.

If you’re like me, there are things about school to which you always looked forward (Hello? Am I the only one here who actually enjoyed school lunch? Especially those little square pizzas?).

When getting ready for the new school year, there was plenty to enjoy. I remember that, around late July, my elementary school posted lists in the front windows of which students would be learning under which teacher. The day those class lists were posted, it felt like checking the call-back list for a big stage production – you heaved an audible sigh of relief upon seeing your name listed under Mrs. Finney’s class, and you quickly scanned the list to find out which of your friends would be joining you in that classroom.

Or maybe you uttered a groan when you found your name on Mrs. Altweis’ class list. The anticipation on that day was palpable, and you either went home feeling relieved or heavy with a sense of dread.

Shopping for school supplies

But the best part of getting ready for another school year was going shopping for school supplies. I was fortunate enough to grow up in the 1980s, when He-Man, the Thundercats and the Ghostbusters were all the rage among boys; the girls, meanwhile, had characters like Barbie, Rainbow Brite, and the Care Bears.

Thanks to the wonders of merchandising, these characters were seemingly everywhere – including notebooks, pencil cases, backpacks, lunch boxes, and Trapper Keepers (Do they still make those? Hmmm…I wonder…). These characters didn’t just help you make a new friend with similar interests, who watched intently as you withdrew your Smurfs pencil case from your backpack on the first day of school; they felt like status symbols that marked their owner as one of the cool kids.

“No, Mom, not that one!”

“No, Mom, not that one!” I remember protesting as my mother suggested a modestly decorated, generic lunchbox while we went shopping for school supplies at Kmart the summer I was about to enter the fifth grade. “I’ve gotta get the Ghostbusters lunchbox. I’ll look totally lame if I don’t have one!”

Well, I did get that Ghostbusters lunchbox, and, as predicted, my classmates took notice – especially the boy I had a crush on, who nodded at me as I proudly strode into class the next day.

“Hey, man, cool lunchbox,” he smiled as I walked by.

“Yeah, thanks,” I replied nonchalantly, trying to act as cool and composed as possible, while on the inside, I was grinning from ear to ear.

All of this goes to show that, as you’re browsing the aisles at the store this month, school supplies must be chosen carefully. After all, they just might spark a connection and create classroom friendships. Happy back-to-school shopping!

Contact Corbin Crable at editor@discovervintage.com​