Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Day in the Life: Hunting with Kanibal Home

The most frequently asked question at Kanibal Home is: Where do you get your inventory, specifically the vintage and found objects?

And it's not an easy question to answer. Because, if I was an honest person that didn't come from a public relations background, I would respond simply with the following answer: Everywhere. But most people don't want to hear that and I'm a fan of a good adventure story anyway.

So here's the tale of how I procured the most recent batch of goodies at Kanibal Home. I'll try my best to not exaggerate (but no promises).

(The setting ... if this was a made for TV movie)
It's the second Monday in November and Kanibal Home is closed for the day. But we're not sitting back and relaxing, diving through our money like Scrooge McDuck. This is a working day. I'm on the hunt.

Several times a month I set out on day-long trips to hunt, scavenge, barter, bribe and beg my way into the lives of strangers so I can drag a car load of found objects and vintage treasures back to Kanibal Home. It's not glamorous work, but it's rewarding. I often come home late with dirt under my nails and bags ringing my eyes. This trip was not an exception.

I knew I had a two to three hour drive to upstate New York ahead of me so I whispered some kind words to The Beast (my truck ... you know, the one with the fork wound on the hood and the Pollock-like splashes of urban dirt everywhere) and started out on the trip. Except, the weather didn't look anything like the above image ... it was hailing.

(Don't worry, I wasn't snapping pictures and driving during inclement weather ... that's what Australian navigators are for. Well that and snacks. She brought enough food to feed us for a week-long excursion.)
And then it wasn't just hailing. As soon as we crossed the New Jersey border it started snowing. Not just a few mistaken flurries, either. It was an all-out mini blizzard. Hail, rain and fat, sloppy snowflakes. Within two minutes of the snow starting we passed three accidents. My navigator kept everything calm in the car as other vehicles careened off the road and into embankments. I told her it was her soothing Australian accent. She told me to stop being a bugger and keep my eyes on the road.

We weren't in Jersey City anymore, that was sure. There were trees as far as the eye could see. And as the cars on the road started to dwindle, so did the frequency of the streetlights. Really? Who thought that was a good idea? Obviously not someone traveling in an old Jeep Cherokee. I might as well have turned off my lights and held a flashlight out the window. But I digress ...

We reached our destination and spent several hours (and several hundred dollars) picking through an estate in the woods. The house itself was extraordinary. In addition to the main residence there was also a carriage house, potting shed and garage on the property. They kept their three horses in a stable down the road. The husband kept joking and asking is I wanted to buy the estate and I could just keep all the odds and ends where they were ... sigh. Did I mention that there were multiple libraries with built-in bookcases and a cast-iron fire place? If I had a first born I would have considered trading it. Wait, my navigator did! Did she want to ... no? ... was she sure? ... OK, OK, I was just kidding. Kinda.

So now it was late and pitch black out and we were on the road traveling back to Jersey City. I pulled up to the shop, unloaded the car, ate dinner standing up in the kitchen, walked the dog and went to bed. The next morning I came into the shop, sorted through my finds (most of the bigger items went out in the shop, some got stashed in the back for later and an even smaller percentage got put aside and photographed for the website).

(A large antique mirror and vintage fire extinguisher cuddle up in the kids corner.)

(A vintage garden stool in a bright teal is added to the center display area.)
So when I'm asked about where I get Kanibal Home's treasures I can go on and on about the hunting adventures. The old houses, the auctions, the people I meet ... the stuff that I find inside other stuff (I once found a human tooth nestled in the back of an old jewelry box. I still have it.). But the truth is that I get the shop's goods everywhere. I pick up tips, make calls, visit old friends and make new ones. I travel up and down the east coast. But, more importantly, I never stop looking.

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