The Vintage Bazaar at the Aragon Ballroom, Chicago, IL
Today, Liz and I headed out to the Aragon to attend the first Vintage Bazaar event of the summer. Expanding on their pop-up approach, Libby and Katherine have moved things to a monthly event – the 2nd Sunday of every month, during the summer.
We lucked out for parking, and found a spot close by (we were also very close to the outdoor space). Note for future reference: there’s a Chase bank literally across the street (we made an extra trip to hit up an ATM, beforehand).
A large banner, just outside the outdoor vendor area (SE corner of Winthrop and Lawrence).
Inside, a little before start time. Unfortunately, I forgot to respond to a press email that was sent out… and our names weren’t on the list. Luckily for us though, Katherine was nearby (far left) and was able to vouch for us.
Right near the front, a few guys from Akira were offering coupons to passers-by and offering prizes.
// Update: the above images are from Houndstooth Vintage. Thanks,
To get a spin, you just had to give them your email address. Pretty smart (I heard the wheel clacking away for most of the time I was inside).
View of the interior vendors, with the entrance at my back.
Near the end of the corridor. I assumed that, similar to the setup at the Congress Theater, there would be vendors along the main ballroom/floor. Turns out, that whole area was roped off.
The interior of the Aragon is pretty fantastic. It’s been years since I’ve last been in here, and recall very little of the space. This is a large entry area with a ton of murals along the walls. I started snapping photos before realizing that this was the entrance to the Men’s bathroom.
View of the interior vendors, standing on the stairs looking towards the entrance.
Nearby, there was a sign telling people about the guided tours that would be taking place, every half hour. Not seeing anyone else around, I decided to slip upstairs to see if I could look around a bit.
The main stage. I don’t know that I ever saw the space with all the lights on, and my jaw dropped a little.
Lovely ceiling effect/design, with the light.
I was tempted to walk up to the next level, to get some more shots… but decided to head back down.
Mural on the 2nd floor.
Some cool lights by Vintage Edison.
A small trio of lights.
Several of the displays were as lovely as the lights themselves.
I’m not 100%, but I believe this is Jim Ligon (who creates these lights using recycled wine/liquor boxes/bottles).
As always, music was provided by CHIRP Radio.
Looking at a nearby collection of vinyl, I spotted this great Spiderman album. Since it was before the official start of the event, I felt a little awkward about buying anything (it felt like cheating). So I made a note to come back to see what else might be in the bins.
Lots of old school board games.
A pair of old typewriters. Spotted several of these, at several points throughout the event. I think my fixation on typewriters has to do with a subconscious thought that I should be writing more.
A collection of old photos and letters (with the actual letters inside). Usually, whenever I spot envelopes or postcards… they’re blank. I’ll see envelopes at a flea market, but usually the letters inside are removed (the envelopes being primarily of interest for stamp collectors).
It was difficult to pull away – there were also a large assortment of old photo albums (full ones, to boot) underneath the table. Dangerous stuff.
All the above images were from Emerald Avenue Antiques.
Some very old school RCA TV/radio combos, and another vintage typewriter.
A slick looking smith-corona, complete with carrying case.
A vintage sewing machine – this one looked pretty neat to me, but I can never tell whether a sewing machine will be of interest to Lizor not. Looks pretty cool though.
All the above images are from Onomatopoeia.
A very slick looking black Viewmaster. At least, I think that’s the official brand. The way this thing was set up (in a drawer, along with numerous slides separated by hand-written dividers)… it made it feel like a personal photo collection.
The asking price was $40, and I was a little tempted to haggle starting at $20. Again, this was before the official start so I made a note to try to come back (though I never did). Wonder if this got snapped up.
My note-taking failed me here. Not sure where what booth this was – maybe Gypsy Mouse?
A very serious looking flask that’s as big as a few canteens I’ve seen.
Great looking drink cart, complete with tumblers and ice bucket.
A very stylish tray and several grades of tankards.
I tried looking around for a sign, but wasn’t sure whose booth this was. Checked the tags, and all they had were prices, but no names. This was pretty near the front, just next to the Akira guys and the prize wheel.
Katherine, helping to manage the entrance/tickets.
Outside, I headed over to the outdoor area – a parking lot on the other side of the street. There were a TON more vendors out here, along with lots of food trucks.
Libby, coordinating with a photographer.
Bridgeport Pasty – offering up peace and handheld savory pies.
The most excellently designed Beavers Coffee and Donuts truck. Just… awesome looking. And I have to say – the donut smells coming from this thing were tantalizing, even in the heat.
The Brown Bag Lunch Truck – serving up some delicious looking meat and comfort food.
Why was I not informed that a Meatloaf Truck exists? Meatloaf-A-Go-Go has a great selection of small cupcake-sized mealoaf options.
In addition to the food area, there were several rows of vendors. This was a nice shaded area, along the perimeter. Since the sun was out and it got pretty warm… I found myself strolling over here to stay in the shade.
Spotted a vendor with a table full of old looking gadgets. I had a similar looking typewriter, once upon a time.
An old radio and turntable combo piece. I think my grandparents had something really similar to this (though in a darker wood).
A ton of old player-piano music rolls. Seeing this, I definitely have to link back to Lisa and the Player Piano.
Random tangents – the thing that caught my eye about this was the fact that one of the scrolls was to the song “If I Knew You Were Coming I’d've Baked A Cake.” Which, weirdly enough, I know because it was used as part of the intro to an old comedy show called Exit 57. Which… featured both Stephen Colbert and Amy Sedaris.
Flavors of rock ‘n roll. Wasn’t able to figure out a name for this vendor.
A shot of some of the booths near the middle.
Cork bark, which apparently is where cork comes from. I learned that this is an outer layer that can be removed from the tree, without harm.
A small assortment of Venus Flytraps.
While Venus Flytraps are pretty unusual, it’s not often you see pitcher plants outside of a conservatory!
I struggled to remember what these guys were called – and talked to the guys running the booth. These are Sundew plants.
We talked a bit about plants, and how much I loved a particular documentary by David Attenborough called The Private Life of Plants. In our conversation, I learned that the world’s largest pitcher plant was named in his honor – Nepenthes attenboroughii. It’s apparently the largest carnivorous plant out there, and captures prey like rats.
The images above are from Acorn Markets, and the guys I spoke with were incredibly friendly and knowledgable about plants. I think Julie would have really enjoyed this booth and chatting with these guys.
Another view of the vendors. I actually didn’t go into as many booths this time around – partly due to the heat, and partly because I just wanted to hang back a little more this time around.
Several really neat looking necklaces. I’m usually not someone who browses jewelry vendors, but after glancing briefly along the peripheral of the booth… I found myself pulled in. The necklace on the left was pretty fascinating, as it had a springy mechanism to it that was really quite neat. Reminded me a little of the gear ring.
A small display of necklaces that originally caught my eye. This isn’t something I think I’d ever wear, but the designs were really cool (gears and a set of keys dangling off each one).
Lots of folks were checking things out.
Along the tops of the displays were several sets of small heads. They actually added to the gritty feel of the booth in a good way (and weren’t quite as creepy as they appear to be, here).
Another view of some of the necklaces.
I originally got a few closeup shots, but after talking with the vendor… she expressed some concern about people seeing/copying her designs. So I ended up deleting the closeups I took, and shot things from further away.
It’s a shame, as there were some really great, intricate stuff going on. All the above images are from Altered Ever After – definitely swing by and check out some of the details on the site. Cool, cool stuff.
While walking up and down the aisles, this TV kind of leapt out at me. I’m betting someone grabbed this before the day was out.
A Blip game! This was on a table where everything was $5. Totally should have grabbed it, looking back. Ever since I got offered a free booth at Wolff’s Flea Market, I’ve been wondering what I have that I could “sell” there. And the idea’s crossed my mind of amassing stuff, and trying to turn it around at a markup. I found myself wondering if I could buy this game for $5 and sell it for $10.
This is all thanks to my friend Maureen and her book.
A nice display of old tech. All the above images are from Aces Finds Vintage.
Back near the food trucks, people were clinging to a little bit of shade… trying to get out of the sun.
Some folks who were definitely benefitting from the hot day: Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams.
Some delicious flavors. I knew I couldn’t have any ice cream without Liz, so I definitely made it a point to come back here later in the day.
Walking back towards the Aragon, I spotted this kid who had an awesome find – a riot shield from a prison, I’m guessing. I had my camera in hand, and as we passed one another… we kind of locked eyes. He was looking at me, thinking don’t you want to take my picture? and I was looking at him thinking I totally want to take your picture.
His mom was nearby, and so I asked permission to take a quick pic. I also made sure to mention the blog and my intention of posting the photo online, and got her permission for that as well. I found out shortly afterwards that a gentleman that was with the group was Katherine’s father! So I’m not sure if this guy is related in some way.
In any event – awesome riot shield. How often do you get to say something like that?
Looking at this photo now, I totally wish I had something like this when I was still a grad student, teaching Freshman Composition classes. Meeting with students during office hours, going over papers, and having this on a desk nearby? Priceless.
At this point, I headed back inside. I was pretty much done with photos… and wanted to do a little shopping around. I grabbed a beer and I have to tell you… after being outside, with the heat and the sun… this beer was delicious. Like french-kissing an angel delicious. I was so happy that I wanted to go back to the guy behind the counter to tell him about how happy I was.
But then I realized that would be weird, and just walked away and kept drinking my beer.
Near the end of the corridor, I spotted Joe’s Barbershop. I had seen these guys before at the Congress last year, and really dug the setup. The lights were off when I did my first pass at the start, but I was happy to see someone getting a haircut when I came back.
It’s not every Sunday, but here are the upcoming dates: June 24th, July 29th, August 26th, September 30th. This goes on from 10AM – 3PM, with burgers hitting the grill at 11AM. And apparently they’ll have 3 barbers on call, to make sure people can get in and out.
I wandered back near Emerald Avenue Antiques, as there were a few things there that caught my eye. I ended up buying an old “Batman” album for $5. The price was listed as $7, but the moment I expressed interest the vendor said she’d go for $5 without me saying a peep. So that was pretty cool.
I also noticed the pile of letters. They were going for $1 each, and I wondered if she would be interested in selling the whole bunch. I talked with her briefly, and found out she got a lot of the photos/letters from estate sales. I asked if she would take $15 for all the letters in a bundle, and to my surprise… she said yes! I didn’t want to lowball and go $10, but was really happy to get the letters for $15.
As I was getting things put into bags, a girl nearby asked me how heavy I thought the table was. I realized she was talking about the table that my letters were sitting on, and I said it seemed pretty light. When I asked if she was thinking about buying it, I learned she had already purchased it!
Turns out she had someone else to help her, but he couldn’t get in without paying admission. So she had to get the table moved down the corridor, to the sidewalk outside. I offered to help, chugged my beer, and we set about getting the thing out the door.
It ended up being easier for me to simply lift the thing on my own, versus us carrying it together… so I gave her my camera bag, and I kind of half-hoisted the thing on my shoulder. I was careful not to bump anyone on the way out, but the inside had definitely gotten a lot more crowded since the doors first opened!
As I was walking, I think one of the photographers snapped a ton of photos of me carrying the table. Which was pretty funny, since the table wasn’t even mine. As we walked past the front, there was a photo area where The Reader had set up a photo booth area. She called out to me, asking if they could take a photo… and it was kind of confusing. I wasn’t sure if the girl wanted her photo taken, but didn’t know if I would be posing next to a table I didn’t buy. After a few seconds, I just ended up walking out the door (the thing was getting to be a little heavy at this point).
Here’s Nicky with her table (which she got for $20).
When I went back to get my stuff at Emerald Avenue Antiques, I mentioned how crazy it was that even the tables were selling, and the vendor responded: That’s how it goes at these things. There were a lot of folks in her booth, and the brief time I was there… she seemed to have a flurry of sales.
I was watching them prepare snowcones, and got fascinated by the machine they were using. Here’s a bit of video I took:
Once Liz and I met up in the outside area, we both made a beeline for Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. I had a lot of trouble deciding on flavors, and ended up going with three scoops: Ugandan Vanilla Bean, Dark Chocolate and Salty Caramel.
I have to tell you – eating this outside, standing in the shade, was a little slice of heaven. Not only did it totally help cool me down, but it was pure deliciousness.
On our way out, I stopped by Meatloaf-A-Go-Go and got a little something for lunch. Specifically, I got the Mother Loaf and the No Buns About it Burger Loaf. Both came with a little side sauce, and both were as tasty as I imagined.
Back home, here are some of the letters I purchased. The writing in each is an incredibly packed and dense script, and whoever composed these maximized the use of every available space.
Here’s an odd thing – many of the letters have these X marks along the flap, presumably to ensure that no one has tampered with the letter, in the transmission from sender to recipient. The other odd thing is that many (if not all) of the letters have no addresses on them. They’re just marked with a person’s name, and several notes in each corner (kind of like the pages of the autograph book I found).
And here’s the old Batman album I purchased. Based on the titles, my guess was that this contained episodes from an older radio show. The titles of the stories are:
- The Scarecrow’s Mirages
- Challenge of the Catwoman
- If Music Be the Food of Death
- Stacked Cards
I decided to record a little bit of the audio for you, in case you were curious what this sounded like:
And now if you’ll excuse me, I need to stop writing this blog post so that I can be free once again to pursue my dishonorable profession.