This time next year? We can only hope...
Even the most avid architectural salvage fan grows weary of schlepping to the warehouse, scrumming through demolition sites or picking through others' castoffs on garbage day, which is why the first annual "Salvage Fest" was such a welcome event.
Several hundred home renovators crowded into the schoolyard of Brooklyn, New York's P.S. 11 on a blindingly hot September Saturday for the event, organized by Jonathan Butler, founder of the blog Brownstoner.com.
Inside, they found eight architectural salvage dealers offering tin ceiling tile (much of it shaped into mirror frames and decorative wall hangings)...
...drawers full of porcelain doorknobs...
...old wooden doors, and curvy porch brackets. Oh, and red velvet cupcakes at the refreshments table.
Then there were locals like Suzanne Spellen, who played amateur dealer for the day, selling brass sconces and table legs. "I'm just cleaning out my house," she said. "I'm a serial buyer."
Fest-goers arrived with tape measures and wire "granny" carts, in which to ferry their hauls back to their apartments and row houses nearby.
Tony and Monika Aiello, who are in mid-renovation of their brownstone, arrived on two wheels each. "We've carried some real gems out on our bikes," Monika said, though they did have to leave a coveted butcher block behind.
"The most popular items seem to be the ones you can take out of here easily," said Architectural Salvage News editor Rich Ellis, noting that many New Yorkers don't have cars.
Ellis, who is also a frequent contributor to Thisoldhouse.com's salvage messageboard, came all the way from Roanoke, Virginia, to attend the festival. He was hoping some of those easy-to-tote items might include his newly published 2007-2008 Guide to Architectural Salvage and Antique Lumber Companies.
The festival was an experiment for dealers, some of whom exhibit at flea markets or antique shows, others of whom have their own storefronts.
"It's a test to see what people want," said Andrew Pereira of Manhattan-based Olde Good Things, whose offerings ranged from dressers to brass hinges.
What did they want? "Everything," said Pereira. He deemed the experiment successful.
The future of Salvage Fest—will it become an annual event, a viable alternative to eBay, dumpster dives?—remains top secret, but Brownstoner.com's Butler glowed about this year's turnout.
"I'm not surprised, but I'm relieved," he said. "Who knew so many people would come out to look at doorknobs?"