I drove to Lambertville NJ. A town about 25 minutes south of my house. A town littered with NYers on the weekends. Known for its galleries, restaurants, history, charm and boutique-i-ness. Bed and breakfast country for sure. Similar to my own town of Milford, NJ, only more popular and well know by the city escapees.
I went to Lambertville to just "Be".
Sometimes I feel the need to wipe everything off my plate and just GO someplace. Today it was Lambertville.
The intention is to feel an area, explore its offerings, see what lurks in its side streets and what it boasts on its main streets.
I parked on South Main Street, paid the meter and looked around.
Part of the intention behind a day like this is to step a little outside my comfort zone. Walk into places I might not otherwise go into.
The first window I saw had lighting fixtures, chandeliers, and some historic charm. I decided to go in. Not knowing the door I walked into was part of the neighboring business and not the lighting store, I accidentally walked into America Antiques and Designs. I immediately felt a bit uneasy but excited at the same time. I was surrounded by cases filled with interesting antiques, tables, clocks, custom wood furniture, and the appropriately associated price tag (Everything out of my modest artists price rage). It was a store jam-packed with everything that I love but can't afford...Yet.
This was a perfect example of a Lambertville store, only there was one twist, and I was about to find it. I turned the corner and behind this gigantic raised desk was a man with glasses, and a relaxed vibe. So relaxed that I assumed he was just a hired worker. No one that relaxed could be the owner. Well, I was wrong, he was the owner, and his name was David Teague.
I would soon find out that David and the store had just been written about in Bucks Magazine, and that he was a name whispered among fashion and entertainment elite and their cronies. I had accidentally walked into a store perfectly curated by him and his wife Ginger.
David and I chatted a bit about the cool items that surrounded us, how I had recently moved back into the area and that I was a full-time artist. David, then told me to visit the upstairs. "Ginger is up there", he said. I had no idea what was upstairs, why I should go talk to Ginger, or who Ginger even was, but I did as he said and followed the stairs up and around to the second floor, where I found racks of vintage clothes, more interesting home decor, and more importantly, a petite smiling blonde woman behind yet another giant desk.
I admired everything very slowly, taking it all in. Everything there could have easily fit into my own home decor. David, Ginger and I apparently have similar taste. I eventually introduced myself to Ginger, and told her how David said I had to come talk to her. We must have talked for 15 minutes, surely longer than the average at-work conversation with a total stranger. Ginger was welcoming, sweet as all heck and damn was she cool!
One of the things we discussed while I was upstairs was a shirt I admired. A paper thin bohemian shirt, authentic vintage, a pick from Gingers own collection. She told me how for years people had come into the store and tried to buy it off of her, literally. Like she was wearing it and they wanted it, Ralph Lauren included.
I could see why, the shirt was just amazing. I suspected it would fit me, and as much as I adored it, I couldn't afford the $125 splurge (Which is actually very reasonable for that shirt).
I decided to look around some more and take in the vibe while Ginger helped another group of customers, one of whom was interested in trying on a green sheer flapper styled dress.
Ginger went downstairs and the group followed. They were going to take a picture outside in front of the iconic clock that sits near the entrance of the shop. A big clock face missing its hands. The girl and the green dress were about to become a part of the lucky few who get their picture taken by David if they try something on. I saw a few photos on a print out on Davids desk.
I went downstairs and decided to sit in a chair I'd admired earlier. David removed the sign that was on it and I nestled into the old, soft, glove-like leather. I picked up the magazine that had Davids article in it and started to read. David told me that when Ginger came downstairs and gave him the direction "Take a picture of this woman" he thought it was going to be me. "You can take my picture" I told him, but his reply was "You have to be wearing something from the store, and then we'll take your picture out front".
Initially I thought there was no way for that to happen. I had been wearing a dress that day, with knee high socks and Ralph Lauren motorcycle boots. But then I had an idea...
I said to David, "You know, I did admire that bohemian shirt upstairs, and I have a pair of shorts in the car that I think would probably go well with it." to which he replied "Well, go try it on".
My car was parked right in front of the store remember, so grabbing the shorts took all of about 30 seconds, and I was excited to have a reason to try on this incredible shirt. Ginger liked the idea too, and I grabbed the shirt to go change.
I switched out of my dress and into my shorts and this beautiful 1960's shirt. I was right, the outfit was a knockout, a perfect match and a perfect fit. Even the boots worked with it.
I could tell that this shirt had meaning to both David and Ginger. It was an honor to be wearing it, and taking a picture in it during its farewell hour, so to speak.
David and I went out front and I stood with a greenish blue boardwalk bike. We tried a few poses and then I spotted this other bike that I thought would be a better fit.
I hopped on and ran my fingers through my hair. *Click*, David snapped the picture. A few minutes later after I had changed back into my dress I had a text on my phone from David. The photo he had taken of me in the Bohemian shirt, in front of the iconic clock by the entrance of his shop. Standing on the vintage bike, running my hand through my hair. Add an Instagram filter and some David touches, and there you have it. It looked like it could have been a shot done for a Free People catalog.
I didn't buy anything that day, (that would come during my second visit a few weeks later), but what I left with was worth the hours I'd spent there.
David and Ginger inspired me, showed me living proof that it's possible to be you, do what you love and make a living from it.
Sometimes as an artist it's necessary to see people who can show you that the journey is worth it. That at the end of the struggles and hard-to-practice discipline there is a much more relaxed existence, like David at the helm of his gigantic raised desk.
I never visited that lighting store either. The one next door that I initially intended to go into. I'll have other opportunities though I'm sure. For now when I go to Lambertville I do my best to park near the shop.
America Antiques and Designs is a beautiful Lambertville store, and I will definitely spend some bucks there, but the real gems are found sitting relaxed behind the giant desks, and that's what will keep me coming back even when cash is tight.