Shopping for Quirk and Inspiration

A few Saturdays ago, we woke up with absolutely nothing on the agenda.  Given our DIY lifestyle, this type of project free weekend is a rarity.  I’m one of those gals who can’t just sit around all day and “relax,” so Tom asked me, “What do you want to do today?”

“I think I’d like to go to the City Wide Garage Sale,” I replied.  Now, Austin is one of those places where a garage sale isn’t really a garage sale.  The CWGS is a weekend marketplace that’s open for vendors to bring in their antique/vintage/retro goodies for people like me to drool over.  The CWGS is held about 10 times a year, and I rarely leave empty handed.

With that in mind, Tom asked, “What are you looking to buy?”

“Nothing,” I said.

“Nothing?  Then why are we going to go down there?” He asked.

Silly boys.  Don’t they understand that we go shopping for reasons other than buying something?  I absolutely love visiting any and all vendor style events that I can find.  I actually much prefer shopping at these types of events and stores than I do at big box stores and retailers that sell mass produced merchandise.

While we were at the CWGS, I explained to him the reasons why I was looking for nothing and everything all at once.

Reasons to Take Every Opportunity You Have to Visit Vendor Style Events

1.  Quirk – Austin does quirk better than most anywhere I’ve ever been.  All over town, you can find oddities displayed in unusual ways.  One of my favorite restaurants holds a collection of Velvet Elvis paintings.  A really great vintage shop has a cowboy ridding a giant rabbit above it’s storefront.

Although you may not be able to see an immediate need for a miniature bear rug (it’s a fake) or a taxidermy squirrel in a bowl of acorns (it’s not fake), Austin has them available to you just the same.

Finding Quirk and Inspiration at Vendor Style Events | Makely School for Girls

Finding Quirk and Inspiration at Vendor Style Events | Makely School for Girls

I certainly don’t want either of those in my home, but I would like to find a deer mount that someone was getting rid of.  I hate the thought of that poor animal dying for someone’s sport and then being discarded.  I think it would be much better in my home wearing tons of beaded necklaces.  That’s definitely going to be a battle I have to fight with Tom, though.

Quirky doesn’t always mean animal carcasses, but these two gave me an idea for something fun to do in my own home.

2.  Project Ideas – I love looking at projects other people have made using upcycled and vintage materials.  The original book wreath was spotted at CWGS several years ago.

There are two DIY projects that stick out in my mind from this most recent trip.  The first was a pair of old cowboy boots that had been spray painted turquoise and now serve as vases for fake greenery.  The other were these really great lamps made from vintage cameras.  This was probably the busiest of all the vendor booths.  I’m not sure how many he sold, but people really thought they were fun.  I see old cameras in vintage stores all the time, so this would probably be a fairly easy DIY.

Finding Quirk and Inspiration at Vendor Style Events | Makely School for Girls

3.  New Products – Many vendors at antique shows sell products to be used in refinishing their furniture pieces.  There are lots of waxes and wood cleaners to be found.  During this trip, I got to chat with the Austin representative for a new line of chalk paints called Plaster Paint.  It’s made in the USA and cost less than the more popular brands.  I kick myself for not picking up a can at the show, but I couldn’t decide on a color (they have great bold colors as well as softer tones).  I’m going to try this out the next time I have a piece that needs some paint.

Finding Quirk and Inspiration at Vendor Style Events | Makely School for Girls

4.  Cool Stuff – Obviously, I’m always on the look out for cool stuff at these shows.  It might be something I’ve been wanting with a can’t-pass-up price or it could be something that I didn’t know I needed until I saw it.  This table of cool vintage clocks had me oohing and ahhing.  People were just walking by completely oblivious to them, and I wanted to yell, “What’s wrong with you?  You NEED one of these!”

Finding Quirk and Inspiration at Vendor Style Events | Makely School for Girls

Then, there were a pair of green chairs.  I loved them and left them.  All day long, I quietly obsessed and stewed about them.  Did I have a place for them?  Not yet.  Did it matter?  No.  That night as we were getting ready for bed, I told Tom that I was going back for them the next day.  He rolled his eyes, but knew that he didn’t have much say in the matter.

As destiny would have it, those cool chairs were still sitting in the same place.  And now they are sitting on my very beige wall in my very beige room that’s next on my hit list.

Finding Quirk and Inspiration at Vendor Style Events | Makely School for Girls

I know that winter is generally a hard time to attend these sort of vendor events in some parts of the country, but the spring and summer mean that there will be all sorts of marketplaces like this popping up.  I’ll definitely be heading again to Round Top in April and I’m hoping to hit a few of the smaller shows if they work into my calendar.

How about you?  Do you enjoy shopping at vendor type events?  What’s the best thing you’ve ever run across at one of them?

Filed Under: Create Your Decor, Decorate Your Home, Real Life with Lindsay

About Lindsay Ballard

Lindsay Ballard is a former college mascot turned political geek turned DIY fanatic who is conspiring to live in a Technicolor dream world. Her designs are bold and graphic, while her spirit is fun and full of color. Lindsay chronicles her projects and design ideas here at Makely, where she shares daily tutorials and inspiration. Lindsay lives outside of Austin, Texas with her husband (Tom), children (Zack and Emma) and dogs (Jack and Duke).


  1. Ha! That squirrel in the bowl of nuts had me cracking up!!! Those chairs are gorgeous! Here in the Philadelphia area it is icy cold, so spring is the time for us to start the garage sale, flea market trips again!

    • I cracked up at the squirrel, too. My 2 year old kept asking if it was real. When I responded, “Yes, it’s real,” she got scared of it. I think she meant “alive,” not real.

  2. I’m headed to First Monday in Canton, TX in April. My first time!y

  3. LOVE the green chairs!

  4. Linda Weeks says:

    Yeah, the chairs are definitely the bomb. I’d have gone back for them too. My mother went to several auctions back in the day, and now, when I see the things she won featured on Ebay at hundreds of $, I think, I gotta get to one of these auctions. Matter of fact, I promise myself to go to the next one I bump into. Or that bumps into me. Good work, Linds!

    • That reminds me that my parents went to antique auctions when I was a kid, too! They brought home some great stuff. I haven’t been to one, but I should check it out. Thanks for reminding me of them!

  5. SWOONING over the chairs!

  6. Everyone needs a fake bearskin rug and a scary squirrel – that’s what makes a house unique! I always say every room needs at least one ugly thing to give it quirkiness!

    Love those green chairs – there may have been a throw down if we spotted them at the same time.

    I’ve always wanted to go to Round Top – have you ever been to Brimfield?! It’s amazingly huge and full of crazy inspiration too.


  7. OK, so you got me at the squirrel…Made me laugh, and laugh good. I enjoyed reading your blog. So nice to know someone that thinks like I do!!! Men just don’t get it, but we do have a purpose….just not sure what it is at this time…LOL…just hang around long enough and it will all come to be. Thaks for sharing and making my day a little happier!! :)

  8. My next visit to Austin is going to be a LONG one if I keep checking out all the places you talk about. Going to look up Plaster Paint RIGHT NOW!

  9. Cool bear rug. Where did you get it?

  10. I just wanted to say this about deer mounts, most people who hunt do not discard the animal just to mount the head and antlers. We hunt to provide meat for our families. You will actually get in major trouble for wasting meat, its called wanton waste and you can go to jail for it. My dad has one deer mount of the biggest buck he killed and we ate the meat from that buck. I’d actually rather kill a doe because the meat is better. So please before you write about things and possibly make a light hearted joke about people killing an animal and then wasting the meat/skin from that animal just to have a head to mount, think about what MOST people actually do with the animals.

    • Thanks for your comment, Dawn. I don’t think I was making a joke at all. I was simply saying that the animal still had value even after it was mounted and the rest eaten. I just hate to see the old mounts discarded as trash. I know that people usually eat the meat – I do live in Texas after all!

      • I’m really sorry I read it as you were saying that the animal was wasted just for a person to have a head to mount. I misunderstood what you had written. And just because you are from a certain state doesn’t always mean you know what people do with deer meat or any other game animal for that matter, I’ve grown up in south Arkansas and there are people even in my area who don’t know that most people kill deer for the meat. It has always tripped me out to see deer mounts for sale because I think why would you want what somebody, maybe even somebody you don’t know, else killed. And if you are lucky enough to kill a massive buck and you want to get it mounted it costs a lot of money, I’m not sure what you’ve seen them for in flea markets or yard sales, but I know my dad has paid over $400.00 to have a mount done and that was 10 years ago, I’m not sure what the price is now a days.