Snag » General information All Found. All Vintage. Wed, 05 Oct 2016 21:18:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Summer Break Wed, 19 Aug 2015 18:03:15 +0000 Birds1Hello readers! The Snag team will be taking about a month off to recuperate, reorganize and probably clean all of our various garage sale finds. These two paint by numbers were needing a good cleaning after finding them last weekend at a garage sale for $0.50 total!

Let us know if there are any posts or topics you would like to see. We are always on the lookout for ideas and would love to hear from you. Have a great rest of the summer and we will be back soon!


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Private Stash: Vintage Wrapping Paper Wed, 24 Dec 2014 14:07:33 +0000 With the holidays quickly approaching, the Snag team is going to take a break until the New Year. I am currently knee-deep in making my son’s present: a Wild Kratt’s creature power suit complete with power discs. Anyone else’s kid obsessed with this PBS show? Anyone?

We usually give our son one present from us and one present from “Santa”. We have never lied and said Santa did this or that, but merely the books we read featuring Santa and the stories he hears from other kids have him wondering and believing. While all of our other presents are wrapped in colorful “new” wrapping paper, I’m going to wrap his Santa present in, you guessed it, vintage wrapping paper. It will magically appear in the middle of the night.

Here’s a few selections of my vintage paper collection. And they’ve all been cheap. About $0.25 a pack!

WrappingPaper5WrappingPaper7 WrappingPaper8 WrappingPaper4 WrappingPaper3 WrappingPaper1 WrappingPaper2

My favorite is the snowman one by far. How about you?

Happy hunting and we will see you in 2015!

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A Comment Snafu Thu, 14 Aug 2014 09:24:36 +0000 Awhile back, we were getting tons of spam despite having a few spam filters set up in WordPress. So I, in my newborn foggy state, changed one of our comment settings to require logging in with a username and password when I adjusted a few other settings. Whoops! Thanks to a Snag commenter, we’ve been alerted to this problem and have fixed the issue.

Bad news is we’ve missed out on some comments and have made you, the reader experience some difficulty communicating.

Good news is you can now comment freely! We’ve missed hearing from you all and are halfway glad there is a reason for the radio silence.

Speaking of radio, here’s a quick picture of a recent find of mine.

Ham Microphone

This is a ham radio desk microphone made by Astatic. It’s pretty sweet, heavy and shiny, but is unfortunately missing a few screws and a base to cover the wires and is fairly filthy. At only $2 I think I’ll be able to figure something out to make it worth my time since a quick eBay search shows these selling for around $25. It was found at a church sale and was the only thing I walked away with, I couldn’t leave it there knowing that it might not be restored.

Again, sorry for the inconvenience and we look forward to hearing from you once again. Let the comments begin!

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Weekend Finds: Mold, Spiders and Heat Rash Wed, 06 Aug 2014 14:25:49 +0000 As many of you know, I often refinish, restore and resell many of the great finds I show you on the Snag blog. What you might not know is that until I have a chance to figure out what to do with those finds, many of them live in one of my storage units. Sometimes for days, sometimes for years. Managing storage can be tricky, you have to be great at stacking, balancing and sometimes even climbing sock-footed to the top of furniture mountains. But recently, while jockeying around large pieces of furniture, I discovered a tiny nightmare growing in one of my units—mold! It’s basically the worst thing that can happen to your stored goods, like a cancer eating away at your precious wooden furniture. Fortunately for me I caught it early before anything suffered damage, but still, there was no time to be wasted. I spent the entire weekend in the hot, blazing sun, with the help of my patient mother, hauling out, inspecting and disinfecting 500 square feet of stored furniture. It looked something like this:

photo-3 photo-1

And that’s only one unit. There were two. Really only one unit seemed to have a moisture problem and I decided to move the contents of that unit to a climate controlled facility where the temperature and humidity are kept constant, eliminating the possibility of future fungi scares. While mold didn’t seem to be an issue in the unit pictured above, I decided to mold-proof the unit anyway and take precautions to keep my stored items safe. Hopefully you can use these tips if you ever have to store your belongings.

Mold damage can actually be a big issue with storage units. Why? They have giant concrete floors and little or no ventilation. The concrete not only transfers moisture from the ground beneath it, but can also form condensation when conditions turn warm and humid. With nothing to dry it, the vapor makes its way toward your belongings where it sits waiting for the mold-splosion to begin. The first precaution I took was creating a vapor barrier and a thermal barrier between the concrete and my furniture.


First I lined the concrete with a moisture-proof tarp. I had been searching for something to add even more protection above the plastic and would be easy to move furniture on. Fiberglass backed carpet tiles would have been an ideal option, but the expense was too great. Fortunately, as I was just wandering around Home Depot looking for ideas, I found these 24 inch square particle boards for only one dollar each. These were perfect, easy to transport, lay down, slide furniture on and they add a significant amount of thermal insulation to the floor.

The second precaution I took was adding desiccants to the unit. Desiccants absorb ambient moisture, thus reducing the humidity in enclosed spaces. Think of the tiny silica gel packets you find in shoes or electronics. There are some commercially available options for larger spaces, but I chose the most economical route—aluminum pans filled with silica kitty litter. I placed these sporadically through the unit, especially under case pieces that could trap moisture low to the ground. I also put small bowls full of the litter in drawers and cabinets for added protection. Every couple months or so, the pans of litter can be placed in the oven at 350º for a couple hours to dry back out for another tour of duty.

My third precaution had nothing to do with moisture, that should be taken care of with step one and two. No, this had to do with spiders. Namely the THOUSANDS of them that had congregated in the storage unit during the past year. After relocating the majority of them—into my Shop Vac—I sprayed Ortho Home Defense around both doors and the entire perimeter of the unit. I’ll repeat this process a few times a year. I don’t mind a few spiders, but I’m not running a spider hotel here.

So, after three solid days of grueling work, I’m bruised, sore, sunburnt, heat-rashed and exhausted—but I can sleep easy knowing my loot is safe from the spores of fuzzy death.

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A Day on the Other Side of the Table Thu, 12 Jun 2014 14:43:28 +0000 This past weekend I had the opportunity to be a vendor at the annual Valley Junction Antique Jamboree, sharing a space with Snag’s good friends at Funky Finds Vintage and Retro. Being on the other side of the table at an antique show—as a dealer rather than a buyer—was definitely an interesting experience.


I’ve been going to the Valley Junction show, as well as many other antique shows, since I was a little kid. I’ve always found them to be an interesting experience, somewhere between an antique store and a garage sale. You see a lot of really unusual and expensive stuff like an antique store, but the dealers are there to deal on price like a garage sale. You never know what you’ll find. That has always been the allure: to see what the people who find stuff have found.

I saw this amazing 1880s medical diagram in another dealer's booth

I saw this amazing 1880s medical diagram in another dealer’s booth

When I was asked to participate, I thought it sounded fun. I’m not exactly new to selling things. I’ve sold individual items privately for years and for the past two years Angela and I have sold though Funky Finds. But Craigslist sales and retail sales are a lot different than a street show; this would be a new experience. So, what to bring? Since the show has historically been true antiques (rooted in a time when Victoriana and primitives were all the rage) I decided to gather together things that were more antique adjacent and industrial as opposed to the more mid-century modern fare I usually have.

IMG_1660-1The amount of work it takes to do something like this would probably surprise most of the buyers who attend it. I know I certainly have a renewed a appreciation for the vendors who regularly pack up their wares and do circuit shows. There’s one whole day of cleaning, sorting, pricing and packing furniture into a van followed by an early morning of frantically unpacking it all and trying to set it up attractively in just an hour or so. But somehow it all comes together and you’re ready for the buyers to swarm. Actually, it’s worth noting that a few sales get made before the public even starts to show up. It’s typical for dealers to peruse each other’s items as they’re unpacking and quite a few things get picked off the top before anyone else even arrives. Eventually, the advertised start time comes and you brace yourself for…


The unbearably slow trickle. Very different from the must-be-first-in-line mentality of garage sales and estate sales, the morning crowd was spotty and not terribly motivated. I was surprised. I’ve gone to shows like this for years and have always practiced a go-early-get-out-quick strategy, believing that all the good stuff would be gone right off the bat. I was getting nervous. All this work, what if nothing sells? Are things priced wrong? Did I bring the wrong stuff for this crowd? Fortunately the crowd began to pick up by the afternoon and the jamboree-goers actually started snapping things up pretty rapidly.


What I liked about this type of selling was the amount of engagement with people. Some people liked to look around and not be bothered, but a lot of people liked to talk and interact. Sometimes people just need to talk out a buying decision with someone and it’s easy to do with people who are interested in the same stuff. I also liked the on-the-fly strategizing of merchandising the space and finding ways to pull people in off the sidewalk. This wasn’t intentional, but two items I brought turned out to be huge draws. One was a taxidermy mink and the other was a space-age toy pedal car. They were unusual and nearly everyone who went by had to come in and check them out up close and comment. That’s a lesson I’ll remember: it just takes one spectacular thing to bring in buyers.


Almost everyone who went by had to stop and check out the Probe Jr.

So, with this experience under my belt, I can offer some advice to those who might be interested in selling and those who might be interested in buying.

Selling: It’s harder than it looks, but it’s a lot of fun. The biggest challenges are logistics—transportation, timing, storage, finding help. After that, it’s making sure that your merchandise is right for the venue. If you can, visit the event before you participate to get an idea of what’s usually there. Spend some time, look around and see what buyers are actually buying and how much they’re spending on individual things to get an idea of price point. Bring a mix of items so there’s something for everyone. You want some showstoppers to draw a crowd, but most people are just looking for something more accessible. I found moderately priced items ($15-50) outsold both cheaper and more expensive items by a large margin—but things of all prices did sell. Of course, this will be different at different types of shows. Be present and engaged with buyers. If people don’t feel like they can approach you, they won’t make a purchase. Conversely, don’t be too engaged. Nobody wants to enter a booth if it looks like they can’t avoid a whole spiel.

Buying: In terms of strategy, I’d suggest arriving when the show first opens, if not a little before, and then returning about an hour or so before the end of show. Why? Because in the morning you’ll catch all the best things before they get bought up, but at the end of the day sellers are ready to SELL. I can tell you from experience that knowing you have to load everything back in that van is a great motivation to make some crazy deals. But when you’re making those deals, be nice about it. It’s so much work to find things and bring them to shows—dealers expect a little haggling but not a black eye. Be friendly and reasonable and you’ll get better deals.

All in all it was a fun day and all of the work was worth it. I might just do it again and I’d recommend it to anyone who wanted to give it a shot.

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Announcing the Snag Team’s Newest Member… Fri, 16 May 2014 12:30:51 +0000 baby-card1

A big congratulations to Angela and her husband on the birth of their baby girl this week. We can’t wait to see her grow and become another set of helpful eyes and hands at tag sales. No doubt she’ll have her mother’s eye and bargain-provoking charm.

And with that, our new mom will be taking a little break from Snag to focus on her little one and family. Don’t worry, Tammy and I will still keep you up-to-date with our finds and projects a few times a week. Stay tuned, the snagging season has just begun!

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In Plain Sight Fri, 06 Dec 2013 15:30:25 +0000 Currently I’m in the middle of decorating for Christmas. While I love all the little vintage bobbles that I’ve accumulated over the years, I’m not going to lie—it’s a lot of work to display it all. It’s a lot of work just to unpack it all. But in the end the burden is outweighed by a couple months of holiday joy exploding out of every nook. Like any collector, the question I get asked most often is, “Where do you store it all?” With just over 1,000 sq. ft. my house doesn’t have endless storage possibilities. For years I’ve kept my Christmas collection at my parents’ house, but last year I decided to move it in with me. How’d I squeeze it all in? By hiding it all in plain sight.


I discovered I had quite a bit of underutilized space allover the place: the space inside all of my vintage luggage. After displaying the luggage for years, it seems a little silly that the thought to use them for storage never occurred to me. I always thought if I put anything in there I’d forget it about it forever. But that logic actually makes a great argument for storing things you only need once a year.


So, while you’re considering all of the interesting things you could do with an old suitcase, you might just consider using it for what it was intended for—holding all your nonsense.

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A Mid-Century IKEA Hack Thu, 10 Oct 2013 12:30:32 +0000 I’ve never been quite sure whether IKEA represents the epitome or antithesis of modernism. On one hand it makes functional, well-designed pieces that are accessible to the masses. On the other hand most of those pieces are composed of sawdust, glue and plastic and are highly disposable. Either way you look at it, I think we can all agree on one thing—IKEA is super cheap. It’s great for essentials like wooden hangers, a throw rug, or organizing boxes. But it’s also great for something else—parts.

A few weeks ago I came across this lonely 1960s string lampshade.

ShadeSimilar in appearance to spun acrylic shades, this is actually made of threads stiffened with a clear resin. Whatever twist of fate that allowed this delicate beauty to survive the lamp’s demise had brought it to me to find it a lamp. A very specific lamp with a threaded socket and retaining ring to hold the shade. I searched and searched for a vintage donor but to no avail. Finally, on a trip to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, I found this.


A new IKEA swag lamp with a threaded socket and a crummy plastic shade for $10. Yes. Yes, this could work quite nicely. It’s not vintage, but the simplicity of the hardware seemed a nice balance for the design of the shade. Plus, it was new, so no rewiring necessary.

AfterThe end result is actually pretty great. Both pieces seem to get elevated a great deal. The IKEA fixture ditches that cheap plastic shade and the string shade feels a little more contemporary with the satin nickel metal than the antique brass it probably began its life with.


As it turns out, IKEA is sometimes good for more than just meatballs.

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From Colonial to Ranch Thu, 29 Aug 2013 14:18:08 +0000 Warning: I’m feeling wordy and there are few pictures. Tonight we signed papers. Lots of papers. Now that things are more finalized I feel that I can share. During Snag’s two week hiatus, my husband and I bought a house and sold our current house. We’re moving from our 1947 two-story colonial…

1947 Colonial House Before

…To a 1958 ranch on over an acre.

Exterior Ranch

Sorry for the weird picture. This was taken as I was driving slowly by their house like a creepy stalker.

In another city. Two and a half hours away. Cue dramatic music. It’s been a hard decision for us, but all of our family is in the southwest Iowa region and we decided living closer to family is the right decision. What this means for the Snag crew is fewer group outings per month, but no worries I’m going to be making the trek back to Des Moines monthly because I can’t live without these guys. We just have too much fun together.

Luckily, when we first moved in to this house eight years ago I had my digital camera out documenting what this house looked like when we purchased it. We said we didn’t want a “fixer-upper” but what we got was a hardcore fixer-upper. I can’t imagine all the hours we’ve spent patching holes, gutting rooms, stripping hardware and painting. So much painting. Therefore, the next few posts from me are going to be what we’ve done since we pretty much finished the house before this blog started. Once we get moved in to the new place you’ll get a tour of our next fixer-upper. We’re so proud of our sweet little house and it will be hard once we do move out. But no worries, the family buying it is so cute I know it will be in good hands.

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Summer Break Mon, 12 Aug 2013 14:44:59 +0000 It was about this time a year ago when the Snag team decided to share our adventures with the world. We’re so happy there are so many of you like us out there and our readership is growing by the day. We can’t wait to share more with you, but for now we’re going to celebrate our success with a short two-week summer break. It’s late summer after all, and we’ve got reserves of projects that need polishing, stripping, painting, finishing and so forth before another of our cold Midwestern winters sets in again. So, if you’re getting itchy for inspiration, feel free to peek back through our past posts that you might have missed. See you all in two weeks!


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