This large ceiling tile is decorated with a painting by the talented Lucy Miller. About 2′ square. $200

I am a Quaker, but I fail at the Simplicity Testimony. Quakers uphold certain ideals and work to live lives imbued with these. Simplicity is the first, followed by Peace, Integrity, Community, and Equality, which are easier for me to follow. 

Good Quakers buy very little and repair things they have. They are mindful of the needs of others and don’t spend their time amassing things. They have just a few items of sturdy clothing, for example, and when they have to replace one of these, they go either to a thrift store or a bargain sale. They love to tell you, “Oh, this shirt? I wore it in college.,” or “This old thing? I found it at Goodwill  for $4.” There is one man at Meeting that someone was trying to identify, saying, “He is tall and wears corduroy pants.” I knew immediately who she meant.

Large old handblown float

I am a person, however, who loves stuff. I particularly love clothing and gravitate towards the unusual and expensive. I save money by buying my Rag and Bone pants and The Row sweaters and Vince cashmere on EBay, but those savings just encourage me to buy more. If I score a $500 sweater on Ebay for $50, I celebrate my savings by buying something else. It’s like my friend Sharon from Charlotte whose husband lost his job just before Christmas one year. I bumped into her at South Park Mall, and she was loaded down with bags from Nordstroms and J. Crew. I was kind of shocked because of her situation, and I am sadly brutally honest. “Sharon!” I said in an accusatory tone, “You have really gone on a shopping spree!”

“Stephanie,” she said. “I have saved my husband a thousand dollars today! I am so proud of myself!”

French-made cloth carp for indoor decor

For once I was at a loss for words, but thought that it was a good thing I didn’t have a husband at the time, because I couldn’t afford to save that much money on his behalf. 

Owning a shop satisfies some of my shopping appetite. I can buy so many things for the shop, and in fact have to do so. If I didn’t keep buying things, I wouldn’t have customers. My accountant tells me that I buy too much, but of course I don’t agree. And when I get bored, I go online and search for unique items to sell. Believe it or not, it isn’t easy finding unusual things. If you look on Etsy, for example, and type in Jewelry, almost every item looks exactly like every other. It takes real persistence to find something a customer isn’t going to see everywhere. 

Yak wool blankets that are warm, lightweight and large. $50

It’s for that same reason that I don’t go to the big Gift Shows in Atlanta. I went once with a friend who owned a shop in Waynesville, and we exhausted ourselves walking through the hallways of the convention center, only occasionally coming across something special for her shop. Going to the shows would guarantee that I bought trendy, ordinary things available in any store in America. My goal is to buy only things that are beautiful and unique.