|Window on Van Horne|
We took our first right down a narrow path that snaked around the front of the store near the window, stopping to look at a half dozen items.This is where we met store owner Nic, a portly blue-eyed gentleman in his late sixties. My husband addressed him in French, without much of a reply. Then I tried in English, which elicited a response, albeit in Italian. We got the gist of what he was saying. We could look around, "no problema."
It was around this time that I spied mon objet de désir--a yellowing "Contessa" dial telephone. Although there were many furnishings I wanted to have, I'd have to wait until we moved into our more spacious duplex, but the phone we could still squeeze in. I wanted my kids to see the type of smoke-signal we used when I was growing up. It brought back some wonderful childhood memories. Unfortunately, last summer we were only carrying debit cards, and unsurprisingly, Nic only accepts cash.
Last week, I went back to see if the Contessa was still available. I set the maximum price I would pay at $40 and kept a few bills shoved in a pocket. Lady luck was smiling on me that day: the deluxe dial phone was still there. "Quanto?" I asked Nic. He signaled just a second with his index finger, and picked up the phone to call none other than Gigi. I could hear him describing the phone. He put his hand over the receiver and said "cinquanta" or fifty. I countered "quaranta." He relayed forty to Gigi. I heard some yelling from Gigi through the phone. Nic pulled his ear away from the receiver and shook his head. "I'm sorry," he said. That was it. I didn't have fifty bucks. I said good-bye and headed back up the cement steps.
I still wanted the phone, but $50 for a purely decorative communications device aroused some sudden thriftiness in me. I'd try again in a few months' time. Then Gigi might be more willing to barter.
I would still recommend this "store" to anyone who is looking for one-of-a-kind furnishings to build your home decor around. Remember, we only looked at what was lining our path around the shop. For you adventurous types that want to venture into the middle, there's plenty more to see. Just bear in mind that before you fall in love with something, you'll have to get your objet de désir out of the store--an excellent haggling point for a better price with Gigi. You might also want to invest in an Italian phrase book beforehand.
This is particularly a great spot if you're looking for antique religious items or vintage film posters in French or Italian. Nic and Gigi both sell and rent items.
Other Mile End-related posts
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Almost a Visit to Gender
St-Viateur: the Polish Bazaar
The Mile End Buzz Around Beekeeping
For the Love of Vinyl
Airing Our Dirty Laundry
Filming on St-Viateur
A Sense of Humour With the Wilensky's Special
S.W. Welch: the Nicolski Coincidence
The Lure of Fishing on Bernard