Saturday, April 4, 2015
Interview of D Davis Antiques
I am so excited to introduce you to my favorite store in the town that my mom lives in - D Davis Antiques and Health Food. Their storefront lives in a charming old brick building.
When you walk in you are greeted with a gorgeous grandiose lamp.
It is so big and so beautiful that you just want to hug it.
During my visit I got to chat with Diane, and she agreed to let me interview her.
Myria - What is the name of your store?
Diane - D. Davis and Company
M - What is your name?
D - My name is Diane Davis
M - How long has your store been open?
D - This store here has been here for about 12 years but I've been in this business since the 60's
M - Oh wow. And how long have you been doing lampshades and restoring lamps?
D – 1971
M - What got you interested in doing it?
D - I like nearly everything that comes from that era, and anything that has to do with textiles. And when I first came across my very first pattern, a totally decayed and ruined antique lampshade, I just thought it was the neatest art form that I'd ever seen in my whole life, and it took me about a year but I finally figured out how they were made, and it was just one stitch at a time.
M - So how did you actually figure out how to do it? Did you look at any books?
D - There weren't any back then. There were no books and there was one other person I knew that covered lampshades but no one was going to give up their secrets. It was just a matter of stacking them up in the bathtub of the antique store, and looking at this pile of rotting lampshades, and going “how in the world did they do that?” And then it finally occurred to me that it was strictly a matter of sitting down and sewing it one stitch at a time.
M - So, the fabrics that you select, I love the fabrics that you select. Have you always used these kinds of fabrics?
D - The fabrics that I use are the same type of fabrics that were used on the originals. Not everybody is real well versed in that, but since the first ones that I bought were back in the 60s and 70s, there still were examples of the originals, and then you can find old old catalogs like Larkin catalogs, and sears catalogs and all, with shades in them, and you can still see the descriptions of the fabrics that were used, and it was the same thing that was used in high grade evening wear at the time. Exactly the same fabrics went into the evening wear, all of them from Europe. Really nice silks, embroidered silks, metallic encrusted silks, and Chinese embroidered silks. Cut velvet was a big big fabric back then.
M - Right. I heard you mention earlier that the cost of the lampshades - labor is not much of a factor, its the fabrics that are involved are just so high quality, and they cost you so much money, and you have to factor that into the final cost of the lampshade.
D - Right.
M - Yeah. Which is...I mean they are just amazing. I've never seen...
D - The trims are real expensive
M - Yeah.
D - Because they are real woven brass from Europe, from the same mills that made the original old metallic trims in the 20s
M - Wow, so you are ordering from Europe too? Wow. And then the pulls...because you can purchase pulls separately, and you can use them on your own ceiling fans, or your own lamps at home, and they are very reasonably priced at $12 each. Do you make those as well?
D - I do.
M - Yeah, those are nice. They're really beautiful. Do you sell anything online or take special orders?
D - We do a lot of custom orders but I don't have a website
M - Ok, so what is your phone #?
D - 501-337-1225 or 501-337-3543
M - So if anybody wanted to call you to place an order, you would take the order, and just ship the shade?
D - Yes
M - Ok, great! And what made you start to make the pulls?
D - I had a customer a long time ago that thought it would be really neat to have pulls, and a lot, not all of them, but some of the old ones had pulls, so I thought “ok I guess I need to figure out how to do that.” So that was the next project, and I found that I could use the leftover remnants of the fringe that I had, and sell the pulls separately for ceiling fans. So we used to have a HUGE tassel business.
M - Wow
D - That has died out with... actually I guess in the late 90s, a lot of that kind of thing got really popular, so they started importing a lot from India and China, and flushed out that market
M - Like everything else
D - Right.
M - Yeah, because the pulls you can easily use them as a curtain tie-back or for your lamps. They look really really pretty. And the antique clothing that you have. Do you restore any of that stuff, as well, since you can sew?
D - I don't. There's not really a market for it. I was one of the first vintage clothing dealers on the west coast back in the early 70s and so I had a lot of that type of thing. And that was actually what gave me the backlog of textile knowledge, and fabric knowledge for the lamps, which was really good. But since I moved here to the south there it no market for that type of thing.
M - For vintage clothing and antique clothing?
D - There is, but much more modern, not antique, but much more modern. And it needs to be in the $2 to $3 dollar range, you know, because we have a lot of consignment stores here in town, and they sell a lot of used clothing, not really vintage clothing.
M - And just so my readers can have a reference, this town Malvern, Arkansas has just over 10,000 residents so this is a pretty small town, and you know I can verify that the clothing prices are pretty cheap so… Which is one thing that I like in shopping just for regular everyday clothes. But vintage clothing, I would think that there would still be a need for good quality vintage clothing. That there would still be a market for that.
D - People don't understand that. It's too kind of hippy eclectic you know...they don't do that kind of clothing...outside the box things.
M - In Albuquerque there is a huge culture for Rockabilly, you know 1950s type look..pencil skirts or flared skirts and pinup heels and jelly rolls. There is a huge culture for that...or subculture, so yeah they are always interested in those kinds of clothes. And there is another subculture of people that are really interested in Jackie O, pillbox hat, 1960s and that is what they look for.
D - We'll get that here in 20 more years after all the original stuff has gone off the market, and then people will think that of course nobody ever bought it, they are the first person that wants it. They don't realize that they really should have started on that 20 years earlier.
M - Yeah! It's funny…
D - In NM it's interesting because you've got Santa Fe, Taos, and you know lots of little different pockets of people that are kind of known around the country as artisans.
M - Yes, that's so true. So your lamps, I noticed in your room, your craft space that you have there...your workspace, you have a lot of finials and conduits and wires, so you just sort of take them all apart and re-assemble them?
D - A lot of times there will be broken parts and they have to be replaced, that means you have to keep everything!
D - Sometimes I will find something that has the world's most incredible bottom plate and the rest of it is either destroyed and ruined or gone, or somebody took it apart years ago and attached it to something that was hideously ugly.
D - You know, so I'm not opposed to buying parts and pieces that are really neat parts and pieces, and putting them back together the way that they ought to look.
M – Cool. Very cool. I think it is wonderful what you do, and I'm just so happy to meet you, and to just come in and enjoy your store every time I visit! So, it is definitely my favorite store in town.
D - Thank you!
M - And it was a pleasure to interview you!
D - Can you come in and visit more often!?!
M - I actually am – I'm going to start coming to visit every about 3 months. So, aside from your lamps and your antique furniture and décor items, what I love about this store is your amazing collection of Jewelry. I just absolutely love it and I see some of the brands that you have are Grandmother's Buttons and Jan Michaels, Patrice...and how did you get involved with these artisans?
D - How did I come across them?
M - Yeah, how were you introduced to these artisans? Because their stuff is just amazing.
D - The first piece of Patrice that I found I found the year after my mother died and I was out in Humboldt county California and found 2 pieces in a gift shop, and had to own them. And then I found out that they came with a health hazard because people that are total strangers on the street will come up and grab you by the shoulders and spin you around and just gawk and gasp and go “What is that?!”
M - They are amazing. They are spectacular!
D - It was definitely a home run. It is definitely just a little too pricey for this area. But now Jan Michaels has been very good because her price point is just excellent. She is a California designer, and handcrafted, and very nice.
M - Yeah, the last time I bought a big druzy ring which I absolutely love, and people do comment on it a lot. And then, Grandmother's buttons, I'm really into buttons myself, and I do make button jewelry using my mom's button collection that she gave me.
D - Most of these pieces are Grandmother's Buttons.
M - Where is she from?
D - Louisiana. And, these pieces over here, and these earrings, are built around old buttons, but I did those.
M - Oh they're Beautiful! Good job! Love them. So I'm also assuming that, since I'm going to post pictures on my website, that if anybody wants to call up the store...if they see something, that you would take the order and ship it off. Right?
D - We can do that. And then we have vintage jewelry. We have very antique, vintage, middle aged...that's what I call it, it's “middle aged”. Older but not really Old Old, you know which is good. We make several things here and then we have quite a bit of silver, old turquoise, that type of thing. Not as much really killer old Turquoise as you would find in NM of course
M - Yeah...of course, lol.
D - But I have more than anybody around here does.
What a treat it was to talk with her! Here is some more eye candy of the items in her shop.
In addition to having the Antique store, they also have a health food shop under the same roof, in the back.
I am pleased to say that they have a great variety of essential oils for adding to food or for making your own massage oils, lotions, and soaps. As well as a large vitamin and supplement section, which is not pictured.
Thank you for reading! I hope you stop in to visit Diane and Terry if you're ever in Malvern.