NEBBY: Pittsburgh Vintage Mixer

This program is part of WQED’s
Pittsburgh History Series. Like, think of today.
This event. It’s 32 degrees in Pittsburgh. It’s April 7th. It’s supposed to be spring. So what happened? We are at the Pittsburgh
Vintage Mixer in Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania. Stephanie: It’s one of our
favorite events in the city. We’ve been doing this with them
for years, and we love
the great group of people that comes around
for these events. Everybody here is here
because they love vintage. I mean,
I love it. So excited to be here today. I’ve been a longtime shopper
of the Mixer, and it’s really great
that we get to be here today. I am a thrifter.
And I like the flea markets. And I enjoy
various events like this. Janet:
Well, this is our fifth year
participating. We come every year basically
just to hang out and to party. Making money is not important. It’s just really just come here and just really having
a great time. Sebak:
This gathering of enthusiastic
vendors and shoppers happens at least twice a year. A trio of Pittsburghers,
Bess Dunlevy, Jason Sumney, and Michael Lutz, select an intriguing group
of people who sell old things, and then the trio invites people
to come and shop in this zany sort of
impromptu department store they call
the Pittsburgh Vintage Mixer. Bess: I used to have a notebook
with all of the names that we came up with
for the event, and I couldn’t find it
last night. There’s some really bad ones
on there. Jason: I think once somebody
had suggested “mixer,” it just, like, lightbulbs
went off over our heads because it is a mix. Bess: Traditionally,
you think of a mixer, you think of people walking
around having a cocktail, sort of a social thing. You know,
it’s like you’re at a party, and everything’s for sale
and you can shop. You know?
It’s kind of fun. Bess:
Well, the Vintage Mixer, we’ve always sort of thought of
as this vintage party that you could also buy things
and take things home. And the Vintage Mixer
also implies a vintage mixer. [ Laughs ] Jason:
Always that little appliance. The mixer is our —
the mixer is our little, yeah, our little mascot. Bess: And I actually have
the vintage mixer that we started to use
as our first logo here. It’s a Hamilton Beach mixer. So that also helps.
Yeah. Sebak: It does. So we’re also
calling this program “Pittsburgh Vintage Mixer.” It works. Cunningham:
This program in the NEBBY series
is made possible in part by… The Buhl Foundation, serving
Southwestern Pennsylvania since 1927. By Louis Anthony Jewelers, proud supporter of Pittsburgh
and its treasures. By Huntington Bank,
serving communities since 1866. By Levin Furniture, furnishing Pittsburgh homes
since 1920. Also by The Engineers’ Society
of Western Pennsylvania, by Henny Henninger, by The Lincoln Pharmacy
in Millvale, by Mancini’s Bread, by Pamela’s P&G Diners, and by all 1,411 backers
of our NEBBY Kickstarter. Thanks to everybody! Sebak: Organizing
a Pittsburgh market takes a lot of work
and coordination, but you don’t necessarily
need to live in the same neighborhood. Jason and Michael live
on the North Side with lots of vinyl LPs. Michael:
Yeah, Jason and I are both
big record collectors. We always have been. So now that we have
a huge house, it’s great to just let it go.
[ Chuckles ] And here it is. Sebak:
Bess lives in Castle Shannon in a suitably vintage house
full of interesting stuff. Bess: You know,
I don’t buy a lot of new. I’m trying to see
if there’s anything in here. No.
[ Laughs ] This is from Waynesburg College,
and this is from a thrift store. And this is from a thrift store. Some of these pieces
are from the Mixer, as well. So, I mean, we just work
so well together. We still do.
It’s so much fun. We also have an on-line
vintage shop that we call Red Pop Shop, which is the same three of us
that do the mixer. And we had started it
before the Mixer, so the Mixer kind of came
out of Red Pop Shop. Bess: And so we came up
with this idea of the Mixer. We wanted it to have
some atmosphere. We wanted there
to be a fun vibe. We wanted there to be a bar. And we wanted something
that was strictly vintage, and when you go there, you know it’s all
just going to be vintage, and it’s going to be good stuff
that’s been really well curated. So we set up shop at the New Hazlett Theater
on the North Side, and that was in July of 2012. Soon after that,
we were approached by the Heinz History Center. They wanted to do an event
called “Vintage Pittsburgh.” Michael: We did a few of those,
and then we went out on our own and found Teamsters Hall
in Lawrenceville, and we’ve been there for many
of these recent events, and we like
doing it on our own. Sebak: The place is called
the Teamster Temple. It has two floors of space
that can be filled with a huge variety
of vintage goods. Michael:
It’s a cool, older building,
so it matches our aesthetic, and we’ve really loved
working with them. This one’s just
a Saturday event. You want to put
one chair in there? -That’s all you need?
-Yeah. Jason: We get there
the day before on Friday. We get there early,
around 8:00 in the morning. We get there early… ♪♪ …tape off all the spaces, and, you know,
we have a schedule when people are going to be
loading in their stuff. Bess: Vendors start arriving
middle of the day, and they set up all their spots
in advance of Saturday’s show, so they’re there
throughout the day Friday, prepping, setting up,
merchandising. Then we work on getting
the dressing rooms ready. And, you know, we have
volunteers, too, to help us do some of the stuff,
which is great. Michael: And, you know,
we also — we hang lights and we get music playing and get all the food people
set up and all the signs put up. It’s a lot of work,
but it’s a labor of love. Michael:
And then Saturday morning,
it’s ready to go. Bess:
And the doors open at 9:00. Jason: I have to say,
it goes pretty smoothly. You’d think that it wouldn’t,
but it does. Michael: Does it cost to get in?
$5 per person. 12 and under is free. Bess: Hopefully,
people come pouring in. What got me here today? Just the idea that I could shop
two floors of vintage wares that are unique,
you can’t get anywhere else, and you will probably
never find again. The Home Show is especially fun
because we have a nice, little ’50s
Cape Cod-style house
in Wilkinsburg, and we want to make sure
it’s decked out in all the 50s-style stuff,
so here we come! Mike:
It looks little bit different, like there’s less clothing,
kind of more stuff, which is what
I’m interested in, so this is —
this is a cool one. I pretty much want
to buy everything… Right. …which is terrible. We need more money. Yeah. [ Laughs ] I know.
I need to be rich. We’re into this.
Big time. -Yeah.
-Everything vintage. We, like, live, breathe,
eat everything vintage. Yep. Stuck in the past. [ Laughs ] Jason: I’m a picker. I go to sales
and buy stuff to resell, but sometimes I like
to come and support the other pickers in the area. Albums.
I love vinyl. And I heard yinz guys
have vinyl here, so that’s really what brought me
here was the vinyl records. We came on just a spur
of the moment type thing. Something different
for the weekend. We were following
the Vintage Mixer
on social media, and we saw some pictures
that were posted pre-opening, so we got here early. I’m a military re-enactor
and a collector, so this is the kind of places
I turn up looking for mitts
and baseball gloves and razor blades
and things like that. Anything from the ’30s
and ’40s that I can use. There’s some freaky rabbits
over there that — you know, what nightmares
are made of. Aja:
Animatronic scary bunnies. Rachel: That someone is
100 percent gonna buy today. Absolutely. They are not leaving
with the vendor. I also think
there just really — Like, the customers
are super appreciative, the vendor community
at this event. Hi.
I want to make a purchase. All right.
Cool. My name is Stephanie Ten Sivak, and this is our store,
100% Polyverse. Living that polyester universe. Janet: Right now,
you are at the ARTica store, which there is a store
on Penn Avenue in Garfield. Best location to tell you
is it’s right across the street from the pizza shop,
Spak Brothers. We actually, at the store,
do 100 years of fashion, 1870s through the 1970s. So we have a large selection
of fashion, men’s and women’s. I’m here today.
I’m from Pittsburgh. I actually live
in New England now — Burlington, Vermont. But from Pittsburgh, so I take
every opportunity I can when this event pops up
to come back and support it. We are
Who New? Retro Mod Decor. Roger and I have owned our shop
for over 16 years now. Whenever we both started
working together on it, I was like, “Well, every time
we do something the same, we say ‘twinage.'” So I was like,
“Twinage Vintage.” It kind of just
rolls off your tongue, and that’s what kind of
stuck at this point. Janice: Yep. Yeah. Stephen:
My vibe is U’Niki An’Tiki ’cause I used to travel
to Hawaii quite a bit and to Florida all the time. I just got back
from a 6-week visit, and I’ll be leaving again
later this month. And I buy a lot of the things
that you see here and bring them back up
to Pittsburgh. This is my booth
for the Vintage Mixer. It’s my, I believe,
my ninth or tenth show that I’ve been doing with them. Michelle:
I love this stuff. I love finding it, and we play
with it for a little bit, and then I think
it’s nice to re — That’s the name of my shop
is Do Not Destroy, so I like to keep… Also, new toys
are kind of boring. Like, some of the older toys
are more fun. Adam:
All of this stuff are things that I’ve collected
over the past three years, and I’ve been getting ready to showcase my items
in Pittsburgh. We actually used to work
at Goodwill, so we started — [ Laughs ] Yeah, in high school, it was,
like, one of our first jobs, So, we started seeing
all these cool things, and we started collecting them
and holding on to them. And then before we knew it,
it was hard to get rid of it, and then we started
just selling. Yep. And our house is sort of
like a collection, but then we try to recycle it
and bring it out to, you know, and sell it
to people that we can. Jennifer:
This is Bitossi and Italian and Blenko Glass
and Laurel Lamps and West German pottery
over there. We sell men’s and women’s
vintage clothing, 1950s to 1990s. We do accessories, bags,
scarves, but mostly focus on those, in the vintage world,
“newer decades.” All the dealers are mixed up
from the last time I was here, so you got to get
your bearings first, but… We generally just start
from the right, go around to the left,
go — There’s another floor
down here. We went down there, and now
we come and do it again. Because there were some things
that caught our eye, and we said, “Oh, we’ll keep
that in mind.” Yeah. Just wanted to see something
I haven’t seen before. Autumn: ‘Cause you miss stuff.
You can’t just go one lap. This is not a one-lap place. In fact, if you follow me
in the next half an hour, you’re going to see me shopping. So, yeah, just great stuff. I’m more interested
in housewares stuff. She’s more interested
in clothing stuff. So she’s generally,
like, browsing through
this clothing parts, and I’m —
I was in the downstairs. I just came up.
It was amazing. So this is our
second round, actually. We did a lap already. A slow lap, too. Went downstairs, and this
is our second lap upstairs. So we take our time, and I think
just whatever catches our eye. I want it
to mean something. Shelley:
We just got here. Sasha: Yeah, we just
got here, so it’s… We do a quick run-through
to see who has what we like. And then we go back, and we’re looking
at things to purchase. Mike: She’s the digger.
She dives in to the booths. Kelly: Yeah. And I kind of stand
on the periphery unless there’s something
that I need to look at, and then she has me
come in and take stuff. So we kind of move
around that way. Yeah. We got to go downstairs still.
Haven’t been down there. I don’t own any vinyl, but I love looking through
those vinyls, yeah,
so it was fun. You need time to marinate
on a potential purchase. This is true.
Yeah. Like, you put it on… Pick something up. Put it back down.
Take a lap. You might buy it
when you come back around. This is true. Might speak to you later. It might be cheaper that time. That’s true.
Negotiate. Andrea:
You know, you come to these
every year, you say hi to the same people,
you know, once or twice a year. You check out what they got. You do a loop.
You gotta — You kind of have
your own rhythm. When you’re in Pittsburgh,
you know, come with what you got. Actually,
I’m proud of this one because it’s
a Kaufmann’s original. And a special thing
about this coat is that it came
from Joseph Horne Company, which is obviously
a Pittsburgh institution and is no longer standing. So when I found it,
I was extremely excited. Also because it was a dollar. So I went, and I had to have it, and now it’s my favorite coat. This is a made-in-Hawaii muumuu
from the 1960s. I picked it for its comfort
and its color. Bess:
It’s a fun fashion event. I think folks maybe can’t wear
that stuff to the office all that often, but they wear it to the Mixer. You know? I very much purposely wore
this dress today. I will admit it. ‘Cause you just want
to look cute. And you know, there are so many
cute things here, and there are so many people
who look amazing. I mean, you want to see
and be seen. And I love seeing when
people put something on. You just are like, “Oh, my gosh,
if they don’t get that”… I don’t know if I should
tell them they’re crazy if they walk away
from it or what. Janice:
And they always say, “It feels like
I belong with it.” Yeah. I don’t think this is going
to fit me, but I’m going to try. You’re going to try it on. It’s my goal for the summer. Rae: I don’t know.
The styles constantly come back. Like, one of my favorite
examples is 1950s clothing. ’70s is just a remake
of the ’50s. So everything just recircles,
recircles back. Copeland: I mean,
fashion is a revolving door. The old things
always come back, and this is back. I grew up in the ’70s, and I want everything back. As a shopper and as a seller,
you pick up things that just reminds you
of when you were young. Shelley: But I know for me
when I see these, there’s something
about remembering growing up and seeing my mom
wearing these kind of clothes. It might not even
be stuff that I buy, but I come across things. Like, I had
that Ronald McDonald glass, that set of glasses when,
you know, when I was 8 years old. Oniessa: I think the reason
why we do it is it’s kind of nostalgic. You know, you want
to kind of re-live the past just a little bit, you know,
see what it was. Jim: It takes you back to a time
maybe when you felt like a little kid
and anything was possible. You could escape. It’s a treasure hunt. You know, you just don’t — when that moment,
you find something you’ve been looking for
for years and you stumble across it
at a place like this. There.
It’s a vase. This is my new vase
right here. [ Laughs ]
I love it. I bought a suitcase one time
’cause it was the same suitcase we used to take on vacation
with us when we were kids. Marcus: Well, I’ve always liked
collecting things — older comic books,
music, of course. Jason: So, I think style has
a lot to do with it, too, so, like, I’m a big fan
of mid-century modern. Sometimes,
just the lines of a chair can just get you excited. You know?
[ Laughs ] I think part of it
is where they came from, the history,
who used them before us, and that there’s a story there. Tina:
There are some things that are
really hard for me to let go. I’ve sold things and then have regretted it
for whatever reason. “I’ve had it for this long.”
or I, you know, “It was mine at one point.” Yeah. But that happens, so… Yeah. And then there’s
the quality side of it, too. I just think, you know,
most of the stuff in this room has already lasted 50 years. Rae: We joke all the time
that in 20 years, we won’t have a vintage shop. You know? There wouldn’t be a vintage shop ’cause things aren’t made with the high quality
as it used to be. Every time I, like,
see an old piece, I’m, like,
first thing I do is lift up the hem
to see the hand-stitching. Like, someone took
the time to do that. So I’m like, “Okay,
this piece has stood
the test of time, it’s gorgeous,
and it’ll probably live on for hopefully
another 50 years or 60,” ’cause we find
a lot of ’50s, ’60s stuff. Sasha: Oh, yeah,
they were made to last. I mean, pieces that are
from the ’20s, they’ve lasted 80,
90 years as opposed to stuff now
where it’s meant to last only
about a year and a half. Everything was just
much prettier back then. Everything now just seems
to be so stark. They actually had
industrial designers back then that actually made radios
and televisions look beautiful. Today is such a throwaway
world in so many ways, and this stuff just keeps. I say now the young people buy
a lot of disposable furniture. But the stuff we grew up with,
it was just quality. Everything was made out of wood. It’s a beautiful chair. In the mid-century furniture, with the walnut and the teak,
it’s just… You can’t do much to it
unless you set it on fire or spill stuff all over it. You know? I have noticed that
the things that I gravitate to are things that I remember
being in my grandparents’ house when I would come to visit. Michelle: The first thing
that I ever collected was my grandmother’s
dish pattern, like, her Pyrex bowl. And it makes us feel so good
when people say, “Oh! My grandma had this,
my aunt had this. This reminds me
of my mom’s house.” Hardly a day goes by at our shop
where some young person doesn’t walk
into the shop and say, “I had no idea my grandmother
had such hip taste.” We bought a house in Coraopolis
about a year and a half ago, and it’s from the ’20s. And it has those old radiators. So we’re probably gonna put it
on one of those radiators next to my grandmother’s chair. We are originally
from South Korea. And we think a lot about it. Why doesn’t South Korea have a lot of, like,
vintage fair or vintage shops
like this? And we think that it’s — There’s, like,
a conception that, oh, like, Asian people
value, like, history or tradition more, but it seems to us that Americans are also
very good at, you know, valuing the past,
valuing the history, valuing what our parents
or our grandparents wore or what they enjoyed. I think it’s really nice. These are the bowls that just make my heart happy,
so — [ Laughs ] Sebak:
In one corner of the hall,
you can buy food and drinks. The slab pies
and the carrot cake are from a pastry kitchen
called Piebird. We’ve been doing it
for 2 or — 2 or 3 years, and pie and vintage stuff just kind of
make sense together. The piebird is the ceramic bird
that you put in a pie that releases the steam so that the crust
doesn’t blow out. Do you use them? No. I bet there’s some here,
though. Oh yeah, right. Next to Piebird,
and in the nearby kitchen, Badamo’s Pizza
is making other pies. So, what do we want
to do next? We have the plain,
and we’ll do the pepperoni. And we’ll do the white one
after that. Yeah. Anthony Badamo has two pizzerias
in the Pittsburgh area, but he comes here and makes
pizzas for the Vintage Mixer. I love it.
Yeah. Yeah, I love doing this stuff
off-site. It, like, breaks up
the monotony of the shop. You know, I’m here with my guys,
we’re crushing it, having a good time,
meeting new people. This is what we do every day,
so we’re happy to be here, we’re happy to help out
and feed everybody. I think this is a great event.
Yeah. I’m loving it. This is our second time
doing the pizza here. I dream about pizza. I dream about cooking it. I dream about eating it.
[ Chuckles ] I dream about selling it. Sebak: He and organizer
Bess Dunlevy are old friends. When me and Bess used to hang
out when we were younger, I mean, we would go
to the thrift stores. You know what I mean? We would shop for, you know,
clothes, kitschy stuff for the house, furniture, that sort of thing. And it’s always been, like,
a huge passion of hers. And so this event,
you know, it encompasses, like, the whole spectrum
of that. You know, it’s a fun thing.
Yeah. One more blast of Romano,
and we’re going in. Sebak:
And the shopping goes on. This is a set of
Allegheny Ludlum silverware that was made
at Allegheny Ludlum. It’s stamped “Allegheny Metal.” Made of Pittsburgh steel. We love it when people say, “Oh!
This is my silverware set!” So, yeah, we like
that Pittsburgh history. I mean, I come looking
for Pyrex sometimes. It’s one thing that’s kind of
easy for me to pick out and see. You look for the rare stuff that someone might not know
what they have. So this, like,
in the ’50s and ’60s, this was a manufacturing hub
of mid-century modern design. So it’s kind of —
Kensington aluminum, Alcoa. I mean, all these things
that are locally produced that are now collected worldwide
is very cool to us. Pittsburgh history had a little
bit of tiki over the ages. There was… Conley Inn. Conley Inn. The Mauna Loa.
The Huke Lau. It’s a city that is old. It has a lot of old things and a lot of appreciation
for things that are old. Andrea:
There’s a lot of old homes, and there’s a lot of people with
great old stuff in their homes. So, when it comes
to this time of year, sometimes, you know,
they sell it. Sometimes they give it
to people who do sell it. So I think there is a plethora
of mid-century modern items in the Pittsburgh area. Adam:
This is a 1950s hot dog cooker. But it looks brand new, and I only opened it
just to see the condition. I think they take
a lot of pride in this city and do a lot to maintain
the historical aspect and its — That was one of the things that
drew me to this city, as well, besides him, so… I think Pittsburgh is key
to why this is a success. I got Donnie Iris
’cause it’s Pittsburgh. The Original Oyster House beer. Who knew
they had their own beer? Pittsburgh matters
with everything. Yeah. [ Both laugh ] So, my wife got this
for herself. Nice, worn-out, thin Pirates. Not too excited about
the moves they’ve been making. I will say that. But we’ll still support them. And a nice-looking flannel
for me. Marcus: Come here all the time
buying vinyl. I got 2 classics. One is
“James Brown Soul Classics.” And another one is a group
that Prince produced back in the mid-’80s
called Madhouse. I got this lovely,
little ’70s piece right here, which I am so pumped
to wear for the summer. Yeah, we don’t know
exactly where he came from. There’s no provenance
to him, but you know,
you got to collect them. You got to keep these things,
otherwise they disappear. This just spoke to me
when I walked in, and fortunately,
nobody was too close to it. [ Laughs ] And a couple
of kitchen items ’cause we love
vintage kitchen stuff. This apron. Got a “Superman”
Number 199. The original
Superman-Flash race. I have this nude
by no name in particular, but I think it’s very well done, and I do collect nudes, and I thought this would
be a nice addition. And the price was right. Oniessa:
I bought a very colorful scarf because I’m a person
that really enjoys scarfs. I’m a collector. I have quite a few of them,
matter of fact. So this is one I could add
to my collection. So, it’s very pretty. Nice jewel tones. It’ll be perfect. Well, I was absolutely delighted
to find this little piano, which happens to be
a working phone! So, that’s what we got
so far. Isn’t that great? Those old, little placards
that are sort of like trivets that our grandmothers
used to have that are black and yellow? I’ve started a little collection
of those ’cause I think — And they have
sayings on them. So today, I stumbled upon one,
and it says, “I’m not a fast bartender.
I’m not a slow bartender. I’m a half-fast bartender.” So, it’s gonna go
into the collection. [ Chuckles ] I really love buttons, so I got two
really cool buttons. The first one
I’ll show you is — It says, “Find your fantasy…
Read.” Kind of all
came together for me. The second button,
it’s a question, and it says,
“Wanna suck face?” I just thought
it speaks for itself, so… I got it from the shop
Do Not Destroy in the corner. We lived with this in our home
for about 10 years. Fabulous. It needs a little WD-40. It’s a Moss Lamp.
Made in the ’50s. Where can you get
something like that today? This was early
Radio Shack. 1981 by Tomy,
a Japanese company. He would —
It’s a cassette tape. It would take its directions
from the cassette tape, I understand, and you could
have it bring you drinks. I’m gonna take them. All right. Vintage cocktail glasses. Nice thing to sit and sip
your Old Fashioned with at the end of the day. You know, I had to smile —
nobody smokes as much anymore. But there are a million
ashtrays. And you go, “Oh, look at this!
Look at that!” You, know it’s…
Yeah. The boomerang ashtray. Love it. This would be it. Minette: Why? I don’t even smoke,
and I love ashtrays. That’s what makes it so cool. It’s just like, you just see it.
It’s a boomerang! It’s just really cool. The day’s been
really incredible. People through the door.
Upstairs, downstairs. Kelly: You know, it’s a chance
to be a little weird and a little out there and have
a good time at the same time. Everyone’s finding
some treasures, things that
their grandparents had. Isn’t it awesome?
I love it. It’s been a lot
of running around. My feet are very tired. Woman:
All the pieces are there. We made sure.
It’s good. It was only $10, so… Jason: Also just so happy
seeing everybody. I mean, just seeing
everybody come together is just such a good feeling. Bess:
I sold an electric piano. Actually, it’s an air organ. And a young gentleman
who’s a pianist bought it, and it’s probably
from the ’70s. I’m not entirely sure
of its background. It’s perfect. I thought it would be perfect
to just put in my room. Easy to write songs. Today is really busy. Yeah. And we have sold
more than we thought. And it’s awesome
that we’re going home with a lot less stuff. The thing I love
about what we do is when somebody buys a piece that they just
fall in love with. I collect vintage Easter toys
and memorabilia, candy containers, and I just kind of got
my Holy Grail. Jennifer:
And, to me, that’s my whole day
right there. If you love it and you’re
hugging it when you walk away, I did my job. It’s mechanized,
and it opens up, and there’s a scary rabbit that
pops out of the inside of it. That’s why I bought it. I’m ecstatic
at the end of the day. You know, we’re really
proud of this event. Michael:
Exhausted but exhilarated
and great and happy and ready to be done.
[ Laughs ] He was $100, which I think
is a really good price for a rabbit of this quality. Oniessa: You know what?
It’s pretty interesting. I like it. I would attend again
if another one would come. Jason: It’s been awesome.
It’s been amazing. It’s been —
It’s been a great day. ♪♪ Bess:
We feel really grateful that the community
has rallied around us and continues to enjoy it
as much as we do. Michael:
Who knows what will happen? Do I think people are always
going to want vintage stuff, they’re always going to want to go shopping
at an event like this, and they’re always going to want
to come back? I hope.
You know? Bess: You know,
and then, when it’s over, you think, “Oh, man,
it’s already over.” [ Chuckles ] You know?
It’s like, “Oh!” But then we get to do it again
in November. ♪♪

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