What These Old Things?
Next auction: March 20-21
W hen Brigid Milway's daughter Midge turned five, she gave her a birthday gift unlike any other kid in class: An old black-and-white TV and a bunch of VHS tapes. The throwback entertainment source became the centrepiece of a little movie nook set up in their home, a cozy escape that continues to win out over Netflix. That sense of of sentimentality for the past, a knack for giving used things new life—and a little but of wonder—is what sparked the idea for Milway's small business five years ago.
Now Milway's online boutique What These Old Things? gives Haligonians a chance to find pre-loved housewares they won't find anywhere else in town.
"I've always been a collector. I've been going to garage sales my whole life, but it wasn't until I was on maternity leave with my first child that I was looking for a hobby, other than feeding the baby, to keep me busy and I got into refinishing furniture and collecting small vintage pieces," she says.
When the furniture started to take over her home, Milway's hobby morphed to focus deeper on the vintage part of the equation. Then she launched an online shop, which took off nearly immediately thanks to online expertise from her day job in social media. Now she's hosting online auctions and interacting with over 5,000 loyal followers on the reg.
"I just could see what people were connecting with—it was the stories behind where things were coming from. If you see something that was at your grandparents' house or at your parents' house, you want it. It's that nostalgic feeling," she says. "The more I've grown it, the more I've been trying to get people to buy whats already out there. There's something so fun in looking through an antique shop or a yard sale and finding things you connect with."
Milway does a lot of her hunting with her mother, Pat, by her side. She avoids shops in the HRM to ensure she's selling pieces you couldn't find for yourself and has a roster of regulars who'll contact her when they're downsizing or moving, as well as collectors looking to offload.
On top of her online shop and monthly auctions (the next one is March 20 and 21), last year in early March, Dartmouth's ReFound Shop started carrying a selection of Milway's finds alongside five other sellers, offering shoppers another option for browsing and online pick-ups. She also sells a small collection at Dilly Dally on Quinpool Road and has some ideas for a Halifax Vintage Show up her sleeve.
"The whole Marie Kondo craze is about having things that spark joy with you, and vintage lovers connect with their finds—there's something that gives you excitement and joy," says Milway of her passion for giving old stuff new life. "The second thing is from an environmental standpoint, it's just reusing at it's most basic level. I just want people to consider it before they shop."