ITEM PHOTO BY DAVID WILSON
Witch City Consignment & Thrift is located at 301 Essex St. in Salem.
By DAVID WILSON
SALEM — Witch City Consignment & Thrift sells anything. Well —
“Almost anything — that we can sell that’s legal,” Jenn Bayles, 39, says with a laugh Wednesday, an hour before opening the 11-year-old shop she owns with her father, Joe.
Take a right; pass displays of designer sneakers, bags, small antiques and collectibles. Then, a left to follow a passage of cabinets and tabletops to one side; artwork and frames on the other.
Above, a hanging banner says, “Ask us about our next auction.”
This piece was purchased for $3,900.
The shop’s most recent auction was April 3. Bayles said it was the first in about a year and drew more than 100 people. The next one should be in a few months, she said.
One notable piece of merchandise from the April 3 auction came out of a Marblehead estate. A small piece of pottery — “literally a tile,” Bayles said — fetched $3,900.
The piece is small; Bayles said about the size of a hot plate. “In the antiques world, pottery is a big thing,” she said. Supposedly this was a rare one.
Bayles said she thinks the color of the piece made it special. On the backside of the tile, she remembers a marking of a ship with lines going through it.
Sounds about right. Marblehead Pottery “bears a signature of a square rigged sailing ship flanked by the letters M and P,” information on marbleheadpottery.net says.
“The very earliest marks were hand-drawn or painted,” the website says. “Some early pieces had Marblehead written beneath the ship. Other early pieces were simply marked with only the ship.” It appears the pottery was made between 1904 and 1936.
This piece, Bayles said, came from a home clean-out in Marblehead. It was in the attic, wrapped in newspaper. At auction, four or five bidders went at it, she said. But at the end, it was down to two.
“Everyone keeps talking about it,” she said Wednesday. “Because the (successful bidder) said that it could be worth $10,000-20,000.”
The underbidder, Bayles said, afterward told her father he wished he had gone higher.
The piece was sold with seemingly similar items; some only selling for $20-35, Nayles said. “If I had put that (Marblehead Pottery) up for $20, someone just hit the jackpot,” she said.
Bayles gets stories like that all the time. She said a customer once bought a record for a dollar; he told her he would sell it for $100 on eBay. But that’s OK with Bayles: it means he will come back, she said.
Toward the center of the shop are wicker baskets filled with what appears to be unrelated, black-and-white family photos; or what Bayles affectionately calls “instant families.”
A sampling of the “instant families.”
Sold for $1, these photos are a mix: some posed portraits; one, a photo dated 1956 of a woman smiling in a intricate, white gown; presumably a wedding dress.
Another, dated 1946, shows a young girl lifted off the ground by a man; perhaps her father. She could be well into her 70s now.
These photos are not only some of the shop’s best sellers, but have a story. And sometimes the customers do the legwork.
“One person, years ago, bought a picture, researched it, found the family and sent it to them,” Bayles said.
The family’s reaction, she said: “Oh my god, I was at a thrift store!”
Other items that often draw interest are old license plates, magazines, newspapers and records.
There’s something for everybody, Bayles said. Some merchandise flies out the door; other pieces stay for a while.
“I love doing this,” she said, surrounded by items. “A lot of people think it’s easy, but it’s not.”
Witch City Consignment is located at 301 Essex St. in Salem. Visit www.witchcityconsignment.com or follow Witch City Consignment & Thrift on Facebook for information on merchandise and upcoming auctions.
David Wilson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.