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August 2014


And a very vintage Valentine's Day to you!

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If you're still struggling to find out what to give your beau for Valentine's Day, consider something vintage. Aged items have more substance, they're very personal and they're great for the person who already has everything. These gifts are some of the most thoughtful pieces, whether they're intact, refurbished or torn apart for a DIY project.

For him:

1. An antique cigar box, lighter, fedora or flask. For a man who enjoys the finer things in life, it's a classy or masculine touch for the modern man.

2. A vintage designer watch. It's a huge luxury piece that, through refurbishing or reclaiming through your local watchmaker or jeweler, can be a very rewarding experience. Besides, it's a gift that literally withstands the test of time, a message that's perfect for your Valentine's Day.

3. Classic beer advertisements, sports memorabilia, field manuals or fishing lures. Surprise him with new decorations for the man cave (and maybe throw in some micro-brews and tickets). Delafield's Rickety Robin owner Julie Platz

said that she loves these kinds of gifts because she has to research and acquire the right item. "It's the hunt for different things. In this business it's half the fun - the hunting," she said.

For her:

1. Collectable Valentines. Antique shops collect and sell cards and stationary that were made way back in the day. You can find a malt shop style from the 1950s or an intricate German piece. Rickety Robin Antiques has been selling quite a few of these cards, too. "It's not just a card," Platz said. "It's a decoration for Valentine's Day."

2. Retro camera. If your girl loves taking photographs, consider a retro camera. It has more character than your regular point-and-shoot, and it's just plain fun.

3. Old school Kitchen-Aid, cookbooks, cookie jars and ovens. How charming would it be to have a still-functioning, statement piece like this in your kitchen? Bob Vanier, a cookie jar dealer at Fox Lake Country Antique Mall in Oconomowoc, said that many customers try to find pieces for their home that remind them of happy times from their own childhood. (Cookies with grandma, for example.)

For the DIY:

1. Urban timber. Beautiful hardwood can add character to any project, big or small, but urban recycled timber has heart. It's great for a new head board for the bedroom or other honey-do projects. Steve Hoelz, owner of Black Earth Wood in Dousman, can work with crafters or skilled carpenters for furniture, cabinetry or mill working projects. "Trees that have to come down because of damage or disease, or they're in the way of construction work … It's just a shame to see a lot of that go to waste," Hoelz said.

2. Vinyl albums. So many vinyl records are too warped to be heard anymore, anyways - but don't throw it out! Have a favorite memory from a shared concert? Frame it, collage it, cut it up and keep it. Take a cue from Pewaukee artist Juli Garton who uses vinyl records and other flat surfaces to make purses. You can find her business at

3. Memorable fabric. You can make ribbons, pin boards, quilts, camera straps, bow ties - the sky is your limit.

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