New old thread

Sometimes delight can be found in an old sewing box in a basement

written by fiona

A partially used bobbin of emerald green thread sits in the palm of my hand against an oak floor.

published on April 11, 2022

I finally made it to the Antique Mile — a street in Berlin with over 30 stores trading in second hand furniture, glassware, jewellery and lighting. Our plan has been to buy as much used stuff as possible here, but it’s not been easy despite the high volume of flea markets and thrift stores. You have to be very patient and willing to dedicate a significant amount of time to searching. Which is fine provided it’s not something you desperately need.

Unfortunately this trip was mostly unsuccessful and at times downright uncomfortable. In one store, as soon as I opened the door I felt like I wasn’t supposed to be there. Everything was dusty and chaotic. It was hard to move around, and felt as if someone had stopped caring about the place. There were two men there, sitting in the middle of the store having a conversation, but the vibe was strange and sad. The store next door was the complete opposite — bright, well organized and full of interesting objects — but the woman minding the place followed me around the entire time. I wasn’t sure if she thought I was likely to steal something or if she wanted to be available if I had questions. Either way it was more than a little distracting and I didn’t stick around.

The last shop was by far my favourite because the owners were very friendly. Right away they told me to go explore every corner and that all prices were negotiable. A young boy, who I assume is their grandson, is in a corner scraping away on an antique violin. They don’t follow me as I head downstairs.

In a corner on the floor I spot a row of accordion-style sewing boxes. I appreciate that they’re arranged in a way that you can open them fully, so I do. Inside one there are still bobbins of thread, half-used, and I notice the exact colour of emerald green needed to fix my jacket. I take it out. It would have been easy to pop it in my bag because it was clearly not part of the sale. But I would have felt bad because the owners are so sweet and trusting, so I go upstairs and explain in broken German to the woman. I ask if I can give her something for it, “...nur ein Euro?”. She she says no, I can just have it. I thank her and leave, feeling a bit guilty I didn’t buy anything. Still, I’m happy to have saved myself the chore of finding a match elsewhere and the exchange left me with a warm feeling. Maybe I’ll be back.

written by fiona

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