Value of Vintage

Little Nifties owner has eye for unusual

Susan Roseman stands among her treasures in her shop, “Little Nifties.” Roseman says not everything in the shop has a purpose. .Some things are “just cool to look at.”

Photo by Leslie Karnowski

Susan Roseman stands among her treasures in her shop, “Little Nifties.” Roseman says not everything in the shop has a purpose. .Some things are “just cool to look at.”

Telephone tables were popular when phones had cords.

Photo by Leslie Karnowski

Telephone tables were popular when phones had cords.

A vintage croquet set with wooden mallets sits in a basket at Little Nifties.

Photo by Leslie Karnowski

A vintage croquet set with wooden mallets sits in a basket at Little Nifties.

If you’ve ever hosted a dinner party in your home, you know the value of a good conversation piece.

A new vintage shop in downtown Maryville offers a collection of carefully selected items guaranteed to get people talking. Little Nifties, 300 E. Church Ave., specializes in vintage and mid-century modern home goods.

Owner and collector Susan Roseman said, “I like anything unusual.”

Her vintage inventory, deriving primarily from the 1950s and 1960s, includes toys, furniture, dinnerware, fabric, clothing, purses and jewelry.

Roseman has been a long-time collector and said, “If I like it, then I buy it, and I can’t even explain why I like it.”

Her aesthetic is well-known among her friends in Maryville and was even recognized by HGTV. Roseman’s renovated master bathroom was featured on the show “I Want That Bath” in 2005.

Along with an eye for unique design, Roseman has a knack for repurposing old items into something uniquely practical.

“My catch phrase is, ‘A new way to live with old stuff.”

For example, Roseman has a hospital incubator used for a newborn at least 47 years ago. It is essentially an acrylic tub held by a metal frame with a cabinet on wheels.

“I’ve served food in this. It (the tub) has holes in it so you can put ice down for cold drinks.” Roseman is now selling the hospital bassinet-turned-beverage-cart in her shop.

Like many other items she has displayed, she has a list of alternative uses for the incubator. “It could be for a party, for your bathroom, a potting shed, a planter, a closet organizer or even for a new mom. To me, this is just a fabulous thing.”

Roseman also finds unique furniture pieces, like a free-standing, 2-sided commercial beauty shop vanity from the 1950s she has labeled, “Two Divas Share a Room.”

“I look at this, and I think, ‘This would be fabulous for someone who had two girls or twin girls who share a room.”

She also collects vintage fabrics and is particularly fond of the old upholstery fabric called Bark Cloth.

“As you can tell, it’s lasted all these years. The colors are still vibrant and its 60, maybe 70 years old.”

Roseman creates gift baskets with a sense of humor that include a mix of new and vintage items. For instance, the “Pop the Question” basket includes a vintage ring box and linens paired with new champagne glasses and a bottle of White Diamonds perfume.

She has several gift sets designed for wedding showers or housewarming gifts. She can also customize gift baskets upon request.

Roseman said her vintage clothing, jewelry and purses have been quite popular.

Even though Little Nifties offers an eclectic variety, Roseman is selective about what she sells and is careful not to clutter her store.

“One thing I don’t like about a traditional antique store is that everything is clustered together. The shelves are packed, and its crowded. I have little departments here, and everything is grouped so you can see how it works.”

The collector not only welcomes shoppers but also sellers. Her store’s catchphrase is, “retail, e-sale or consignment”

Roseman said when consigners come to her store, “If there are things they want to sell that won’t work in my shop, I can sell it for them on eBay or etsy (an online vintage retailer).”

In fact, Roseman began selling her unique finds on eBay and had an antique booth before she opened her store about 4 months ago.

She said her vintage-collecting hobby began 13 years ago when her kids started school at Fort Craig Elementary.

“I dropped them off and thought, ‘I’m free for the day.’ So I started poking around the thrift stores, the garage sales and the auctions.”

Roseman said her two sons, now ages 15 and 17, were excited about her opening the store. Friends and family echoed their sentiment. She said, “A lot of people have said, ‘It’s about time!”

Roseman said the new store has not only been a new retail outlet, but has also provided a social outlet to meet new friends who share her aesthetic.

“Most of my friends are those I met through my kids’ school, and now I get all these creative people coming in,” she said.

She is particularly fond of the arts culture downtown, and her shop participates in the Last Friday Art Walks.

Roseman will be offering workshops in the fall so she can share her art of repurposing old, unique items into something practical.

Little Nifties is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and customers can enter the shop through the back of Dandy Lions.

Roseman is not always in the store but says her phone number is posted on the door. Anyone who looks at a 50-year-old hospital incubator and sees a beverage cart for hosting a party is worth visiting.

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