July 14 is Bastille Day in France, commemorating the storming of the Bastille back in 1789 during the French Revolution. It’s a national day of celebration, and this past Saturday, Francophiles from across the region united to celebrate right here in Portland. It was my first time participating in this event so I didn’t quite know what to expect. But I figured I couldn’t go wrong bringing loads of red, white and blue in keeping with the French national colors.
A big pre-WW1 flag gently waved in the background while I staged my booth with vintage and antique French enamelware and linens, house numbers, postal bags and school stamps.
I was surprised to find out several customers thought my items were reproductions. Since this was a general celebration of all things French (I was the only vintage vendor), I shouldn’t really have been all that surprised – there are plenty of reproductions out there and if you’re not constantly surrounded by old things, I suppose it can be tricky to spot the difference. It was quite fun to see people’s reaction when they found that no, all this items are unique, old, and truly from France.
Functional items with a modern day application (like all these old rubber stamps) are usually big sellers – people recognize the beauty of an old item and can justify the purchase because it serves a function, too.
The Bastille Day celebration was organized by Alliance Française de Portland, the local chapter of a large national organization specializing in teaching French and promoting French culture. Kids and adults alike were drawn to my towel racks and enamel canisters with words, testing their vocabulary to see whether they knew them all. The towel racks were especially intriguing, pointing to cultural as well as linguistic differences.
This gorgeous striped pitcher filled with hydrangeas from our garden was quick to sell. It’s been one of my favorites and while I was a tiny bad sad to see it go, I know it’s going to a great new home in Vancouver.
Knowing I’d be surrounded by Francophiles, I made a little display to promote Euro Vintage Market, handing out lots of postcards. Several people even pulled out their phones and put the event on their calendar right then and there!
I was thrilled to see St. Honoré Bakery set up just two booths down from me so I enjoyed yummy French goodness for breakfast (almond croissant), lunch (baguette with brie) and snack (chouquettes in both regular and chocolate!).
If you missed it this year, be sure to mark your calendar for next year’s celebration and raise a glass to toast the French this coming Thursday, July 14, the official Bastille Day.