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Vintage Picking and Road Tripping with Dinerman

Discussion in 'General Attire & Accoutrements' started by Dinerman, Sep 20, 2015.

  1. Dinerman

    Dinerman Super Moderator Bartender

    One of the most common questions I get, right after, "how did you get into all this?", is "where do you find all your stuff?". It's one of those questions that can be hard to answer. "Oh, you know, here and there" usually suffices and avoids the long story. But the truth is, I drive a lot.

    This weekend was a casual overnight excursion to Billings, Montana. For those of you not familiar with the area, the drive from Bozeman to Billings is just under 150 miles, and usually I make it as a day trip. So that's a 300 mile round trip, hours on the road and a tank of gas, for the hope that maybe, just maybe, there will be some old ties or a couple of vintage hats waiting to be found. There are no guarantees in this business.

    But I've had good luck in Billings in the past. There are a number of antique shops, thrift stores, secondhand stores and the like, and I usually get lucky at at least one or two. This past weekend, one of the larger antique malls was having an outdoor antique fair, with its craigslist ad touting 70 vendors. It was enough to hopefully tip the odds in my favor.

    My girlfriend, Alex, and I drove out Friday night so that we could get an early start so we could be back in Bozeman before the sun started to set. We stayed at a charming 1950s motor court, the Dude Rancher Lodge. Neon, knotty pine and exposed beam ceilings combined with recent western themed carpets and brand wall hangings courtesy an appearance on "Hotel Impossible" several years ago, made for a charming place to stay. Full of character, it was way more fun than a chain motel, and just the right kind of place for vintage people like us.


    We made it to the fair a little later than we had hoped, it turned out that in Billings on a Saturday morning, everyone goes out for breakfast, and lined stretched out the door of everyplace good or interesting. I went against every fiber of my being and went to the practically deserted Denny's for a generic breakfast. I think that might have cancelled out the "shop local" cred the Dude Rancher got me. Oh well. There was a lot of re-purposed, re-painted, hand-made, shabby chic type of antiques at the fair, but also a few gems to be had. Afterward, we hit up the aforementioned antique shops in downtown Billings and a few of the thrifts. Here are a few of the neat things I spotted, but didn't buy. It seemed like I was tripping over vintage hats and vintage neckties at every step, but I have to be selective. The market is really down on the more mundane patterns of 1940s ties, so even at the reasonable $6 a piece that one vendor was asking, there's no way for me to make any money from that, so I let probably 30-some of them sit. Same with hats- below a certain size or a certain brim length, there's such limited demand.

    Things survive in Billings. It's a good town for lovers of vintage. Neon signs, ghost signs, architecture.

    After a long day of hunting, I managed to find a good sized cache of vintage hats, most of which were originally sold within a few miles of where I found them. But for me, the real treat was that leather jacket. They're all over the internet, but it's getting harder and harder to find "out in the wild". And this one's a real beauty. Great patina and a rare model. I'd love to know who wore it some 60 odd years ago, but I can say that it's pretty likely they rode a Harley in Billings.

    Here's the full haul all cleaned up and photographed.
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2015
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  2. Dinerman

    Dinerman Super Moderator Bartender

    This week, Alex and I did as the song says, and headed west, young man. She's been working on a photo series in Anaconda, Montana, and I came along to do what I thought would be a bit of casual vintage hunting on the way there and back. I had made a similar loop about two months ago with good results and didn't expect to find more than beautiful scenery and a good time.


    What a treat to have a blue, big sky country type of day for an outing. Last week was in the 90s, the week before was pouring rain, and the one before that there was smoke from forest fires so thick you could barely see a block in front of you. It's just starting to be fall here, with shocks of yellow mixed into the pine forests and fresh show on the mountain peaks. Perfect weather for tweed jackets and windows down driving through the mountains.

    As always, there were a lot of interesting things along the way that I didn't buy. Every trip and every shop always seems to have a particular thing that shows up in unusual numbers. This time it was pile lined tweed coats from the 1970s. It killed me to pass on the bow ties in the bottom right corner, probably a hundred of them, mostly from the 1970s, but with a couple 1940s and 1950s ones mixed in. But as low a the asking price of ten bucks a pop is, with the amount of work that goes into photographing and listing them, and with their era, it's just too much for someone in my position.

    On the hunt- photos by Alex DeLong. Montana is a goldmine for vintage ties. Usually I'm finding them in thrift shops in small clusters, but every now and again I find a big cache tucked away somewhere. Well, to be more accurate, Alex found this cache, a big crate of ties, high up on a shelf in a back room I've never seen open before. It took a lot of sorting through, weeding out the ones that were too damaged, too new, too thin and too plain. I ended up with about half of the ones in that pile, and found quite a few more in various thrift and secondhand stores.

    Photos by Alex DeLong. Anaconda and Basin Montana. Basin's been in decline since the mid 1920s. Where there were once thousands of residents, there are now 255. Bits and pieces from its mining glory days of the early 1900s still remain, mixed in with abandoned cars from the 1940s-1970s. In short, our kind of town.

    The Haul: Two 1940s fedoras, a Biltmore fedora, a MA-1 flight jacket, sheepskin ranch vest, two work jackets, a B-9 Parka, nearly 70 vintage neckties, a 1930s suit jacket, an early 1950s suit jacket, a 1960s tweed jacket, a 1940s overcoat, an early 1960s suit and a handfull of odds and ends. Keep an eye out over the next couple of days as I get it photographed and listed. Yet another good couple of days out on the road!

    Until next trip,
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2015
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  3. Two Types

    Two Types I'll Lock Up

    I've been following these trips over on Facebook - keep up the good work!
  4. Fantastic photos Dinerman - very evocative. And some good finds!
  5. Thank you for the photologue, Dinerman! I learned some new things today - one of which is who you are on eBay! :cool:

    Alex takes excellent photos, BTW.
  6. RJR

    RJR I'll Lock Up

    Neat trips,thanks.
  7. Way to go Spencer! I too enjoy the posts on Facebook. Mostly, I enjoy the photos and adventure of the hunt thru the lens of your pics.

    Small world. We have a vacation home near Yellowstone (going south from Big Sky). Frequently during the year, either myself or family, fly into Boseman and either shuttle down to the home (Boseman Airport Shuttle) or take our 85' Ford F150 (bale of hay in the bed, gun rack(sans guns)with 2 Rock'n Bar ball caps and an old Ststeson OR on it and a chain saw in the back. We keep the truck at the airport. As you know, nobody takes a man's truck in Montana. Yes we have visited several of the shops in the area and I being a size you do not usually buy, find real treasures to wear on my head or back. Love the western topography as it is ruggedly beautiful.

    Keep on hunting. Great adventures sir!

    Eric -
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  8. EmergencyIan

    EmergencyIan Practically Family

    Great stuff, Spencer!

    - Ian
  9. Great pictures!
  10. WOW, thank you, Dinerman, I really enjoyed this!
  11. Dinerman

    Dinerman Super Moderator Bartender

    After years of dong the roadtrips and documenting it on dinerhunter, and years of selling the stuff through vintage-haberdashers, I think it's time to have a place to merge the two- to show the whole picture of what it is that I do. Because as much as jackets and ties are cool, the real fun for me is being out there looking for it. The vintage clothing is a destination of sorts, albeit an unknown one, but the real joy is in the journey and in discovery. So in the future, Alex and I are going to try to be really conscientious about documenting things; not just the great piece of neon in whatever small town it is, but the beautiful western scenery between point A and B, so that we can really share the full experience. And it's really great and encouraging to see that you all are enjoying seeing this side of things, not just the edited shots of the clothes themselves.

    To round things up on that last post- here's the cleaned up shots of the full haul. Enough ties to overwhelm me for weeks!
  12. Fantastic pics, Dinerman! Loved looking through your pics. Looks like a great trip!
  13. tropicalbob

    tropicalbob My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Dinerman, I have to ask: where do you keep all this stuff? I've got a walk-in cedar closet packed to the roof with items I've accumulated, and I get a certain amount of criticism about it ("Half that closet's mine!!!" "Yes, but you dress like a nun. You haven't got my joie de vivre"). It must be great to have found someone with the same addiction.
  14. Dinerman

    Dinerman Super Moderator Bartender

    I'm in a small apartment, so I try to move things out as fast as I get them in to keep my surroundings as manageable as possible. Try is the operative word there, because it does tend to stack up in my closet and on my racks.
    I'll take some pics of my setup sometime. You'd probably be amazed at how small it is.
  15. I look forward to your future hunting/gathering trips! I like the hunt and the kill (so to speak), but do not like to clean and cook (market and sell). Things are starting to pile up around here, but on a much lower quality scale to what you find.

    Thanks so much for sharing this part of your life with us!
  16. Two Types

    Two Types I'll Lock Up

    It would be interesting to know how you make the decision about what you sell and what you keep (apart from the obvious things like size).
  17. It's wonderful to see the documentation of your road trips. Clearly there is a lot of effort behind the vintage hunt, and your reports provide a realistic picture of the work (and the fun) behind it.
  18. Great thread and even better photos!
    Thanks for taking us along!
  19. Dinerman

    Dinerman Super Moderator Bartender

    I made a quick run today. Like I've said before, this business is a crap shoot. Sometimes I get away with 90-something pieces of vintage, like this past weekend. Sometimes I hunt and peck and find nothing, like today.
    Don't get me wrong, there was still vintage- one of the pawns had some '30s vintage overcoats that have been there for the better part of two years gathering dust because of the prices they're asking. This is the same shop that I've found coats at for $15, so I suppose it just depends on the day it comes in and who prices it. All the thrift shops had the usual assortment of early 1960s ties, but I already have a hundred+ of those in boxes that I practically can't give away, so at six bucks a pop, the thrift shop can keep them. Alex found some vintage cameras at low prices, but they're the same Kodak brownies that pop up everywhere and aren't much use to her for shooting.


    But, a beautiful day to be out. Finally shot a few local signs that the light has always been wrong to get good pics of. Got away from my photo editing and measuring and out on the road, so a good morning on the whole regardless of the vintage clothing outcome. If you don't get out and look, you'll never find anything.

  20. Dinerman

    Dinerman Super Moderator Bartender

    I spoke too soon. Made one last stop with a used clothes dealer and made some major finds!

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