Posts Tagged ‘ vintage ’

Things to do in Denver When your DEAD (from the August heat)

It’s been pretty warm lately, which has us at z diving for air conditioned pastures. But just because it’s hot, doesn’t mean there aren’t some COOL things to check out before summer is officially over in a month or so. Her’s what we’ve been up to at z…

Starlite, starbright, a true overnight stay delight!

Earlier this summer, the z|staff took a long vintage weekend in Canon City, to visit the famed Starlite Campground and RV park. Sounds pretty trailer trashy, huh? Well, if those trailers are restored and original vintage specimens, and themed to boot, then we love to be trailer trash! The Starlite is owned by a husband and wife team who eat, drink, and breathe vintage, and in their copious amounts of free time the renovate vintage trailers on the side. The park has a campy charm (ha ha) and is very family friendly, and once you’ve spent a day or so, you feel like family! They go over the top to make your stay super pleasant, and make sure that their visitors have peace and privacy in the park. Each of the vintage trailers has a picnic bench, chairs, a fire pit, and a charcoaler in addition to stoves, fridges, etc in the trailers (options vary per trailer based on year). The Starlite is perfectly set for a group stay for a family vacation, where you can still stay together but get some much needed alone time. And if you need a wedding plan, they do that too! Larry the owner is an ORdained Minister, so your wedding party can stay at the campground, then you can tie the knot on the Royal Gorge Bridge (talk about taking a leap!) The bridge is closed right now due to the fire, but things are looking good for a 2014 reopening. Oh, and they have regular RV hookups and parking as well, so if the grandparents want to come out in the motor home, everyone is a winner!

So if you are sick of the same old vacation, take a trip to the Starlite and indulge in a great past-time! visit them at

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CATALYST: Colorado sculpture at the Denver Botanic Gardens

In the spring, we got tickets to hear art experts Michael Paglia and Mary Chandler discuss the sculpture works at CATALYST at the Botanic Gardens. Michael’s event we attended, Mary’s was rained out in those crazy July storms we had. But even if you don’t have the opportunity to hear what the experts say, you should DEFINITELY head over to the Gardens and check out this installation! Most works are “larger than life”, and many incorporate water elements, multiple viewing angles or multiple pieces (think triptychs), and works you can “get into” to experience the world from the inside out. The pieces span the entirety of the gardens, so it’s like getting two shows in one. Perfect for a romantic date or a way to get the kids out of the house.

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Zoppe Family Circus

Lastly but by far not the least, be sure to check out the Zoppé Italian Family Circus for the last few days they are here in Denver. Zoppé (pronounced Zoh Pay) comes to Denver each year for the Carnation Festival in Wheat Ridge, and is the BEST circus performance you will ever see. It’s not big, it’s not glamorous, it’s not Cirque de Sole (they are proud of that, by the way!) What it IS… very much audience inclusive especially with kids, intimate, loving toward animals (no exotic stuff here, just some rescue dogs doing great tricks, Belgian horses and a Shetland pony), bonded by family, and truly talented performers. When you come to the Zoppé tent, you are welcomed into their home, and you feel it. They truly care about giving a fantastic performance and love what they do…smiles all around. The performers care for the animals, set up and tear down the tent, and travel in mobile homes which they stay in on site to make sure the animals are safe. You will laugh until your ribs hurt at the antics of Niño the clown, who shows you what a REAL clown should be like (not a bumbling baffoon in stupid makeup).

The show is only in town through this Sunday, so be sure to get over and experience what a family circus is, and you’ll never go back to those cold, commercial lightshows again.

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Palm Springs version 2.ohhhhhhhh

Yes, it’s been a bit since our last update, sorry about that. We have been working, really! It’s just been a lot of behind the scenes stuff, which to you is probably not that interesting. Or maybe it is, if your into masochistic stuff. So the brief overview is this:

  • The holidays were crazy busy
  • We successfully got the building that z|modern resides in up for sale
  • Don’t panic, we’re just downsizing a bit and reinventing to bring you the leaner, meaner reincarnation of z
  • We’ve been working hard on the new space, which is the old 9Health space next to z
  • and we did the annual pilgrimage to Palm Springs

If you read last year’s post about Palm Springs (you can start the 3 part saga here) it was my first adventure out there, and I had a great time, even though as a minion I was worked like a mule. So This year, Kevin and his wife, Rando and I, decided we’d stay a few days after to see the sights, decompress, and maybe get a mini-break from the prep and execution of the Palm Springs show. Great plan, glad to be a part of it!

Because I had a crack of dawn flight to catch to get to PS and meet Rando, who had already driven the booty to the treasure site, I opted to use Uber to get to the airport. Even if one of my friends did not laugh heinously when I told them what time I had to leave, I couldn’t ask anyone to drop me at the airport when I myself would rather be in a coma. Uber is somewhat new to Denver, but is very popular in the coastal cities and places like Chicago, and having tried it I truly think it is the only way to go to the airport. You get a towncar, leather interior, chauffeur, water, the whole 5 star treatment, but for much less than a normal car or limo service, in some cases, more than half as much. And not having to deal with an obnoxious, chatty driver in a cab that reeks of smoke, crappy air freshener, and hope they show up on time? Priceless. It’s a bit more than a cab, but work every penny. I encourage you to check it out, the quiet and posh ride was a very welcome start to what would be a crazy week. Check ’em out HERE.

I arrived to 72 degree sunny weather, a ride to the convention center from Randy’s friend (Tony who is a total sweetheart), and a nice lunch from a place called Koffee that stomps the everloving crap out of anything Starbucks has done or even would think to do. Chaos has already ensued with the truck unloading process, but it was pretty controlled compared to last year. At least, from where I was sitting.

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Since we didn’t have the problem with the floor like we did last year, and we had a better understanding of what Randy’s “vision” was, we were actually able to get the booth a bit farther along than planned, though not as far along as Kevin & I would have liked. However, fish tacos were calling us, it was a long day for everyone, and we were all happy to be done even though the progress was a bit slow. Day two is the big push, because we still have to go home and clean up before the big opening Friday night, and there’s not much room for error or your booth will look like dog poo in front of your biggest and best clients. Randy was in and out of the booth, depending on how freaked out he was, and whether or not he was shopping around at the other vendors. Overall, other than a hiccup with lunch and a few last minute decisions on moving things around to get the best presentation, it came together pretty well. Friday night was a good one for us, and some of the luck followed into Saturday’s sales. We did sneak away on Saturday and check out the art show, which we missed last year, an it was very fund and educational. Sunday was slow, but we were on the last leg of the journey. The hot tub at the hotel was our best friend, and we spent a lot of time hanging out there after supper.

Sunday’s dinner is worth mentioning, but not for any of the right reasons. We were walking to a mexican restaurant, and on the way was an “English” pub called Lyons. We stopped in the front reception area just to see if they had Bass Ale, since Rando’s fav beer is rarely served, and we had to check the menu just because. The items looked really good, and from the price we determined that if they food wasn’t tasty, they couldn’t charge their rates. We changed our plan, foolishly, without checking reviews and decided to try dinner at Lyons. The service was horrid, once you got into the restaurant it was throw-back 1970s, and so dark we could barely read the menus. Our waitress “doe” was actually stand-offish all night, and was really extra icky to Kevin’s wife. The food was mediocre at best, and if you factored in the cost, really not good. The icing on the cake was while we were waiting for the check (which took forever, and was also wrong) we watched two other waiters serve their tables with both zeal and fun, and the salads, appetizers, etc were DOUBLE the size of what we received, and each item was described and explained in detail. We weren’t even given the specials. Lesson learned, check the reviews BEFORE you try an expensive place (the reviews were very similar to ours) and don’t eat where you can’t read the menu. While having dinner at Lyons, (or Lyings, as it should have been called) I picked up this nasty little cough that just wouldn’t go away. I thought it was from sharing the hotel room with Rando, (which he switched to a smoking room before I got there) but wasn’t completely convinced. Otherwise I felt really good and enjoyed another post-dinner dip in the hot tub and some scotch. Alas, I was seriously mistaken. I woke up on Monday SICK SICK SICK. I thought at first I just had a migraine and needed to try and shake it off (which never works, but I still always try). Randy was determined we needed to have breakfast at his favorite place, Spencers, so we headed out. In the short 20min drive, walk, and entrance into Spencers, I started to truly grasp that I was likely not going to keep down whatever my breakfast was going to be, but hoping that I might still be ok, I ordered the oatmeal figuring if it did stay down, great, if not, well….And it was the best damn oatmeal I have ever had. Period. Randy’s eggs benedict, and Kevin’s breakfast were also beautiful, and everyone raved about the food and service, a much needed experience after our tragedy at Lyons.CameraAwesomePhoto-8

Once we made it to the show, I had a full blown migraine, and could barely stand up. So Randy opened up the truck and I got myself horizontal on a couch we had slated for auction. After what seemed like another 20 min, Randy came and got me, informing me that 3 hours had passed, I looked green, and his friend Ken was taking me back to the hotel. Normally I’d at least feign some sort of bravado, but there was nothing left in me to do that, I was wiped out.  On the way back, I was met with the unfavorable realization that the oatmeal was going to make a repeat appearance. I made it to the room, it did, and then I went to bed. For 3 days. Solid. I didn’t eat, I barely slept, I felt like someone threw me down a flight of stairs in a sack and then beat me with a bat before opening the sack. I couldn’t drink, though by day two was able to slurp down small portions of chicken stock. I finally was somewhat able to function on Thursday, but very slowly, and still without food. When it was all said and done, I was sick for two weeks before I felt like myself again.


This would be the view I got for three days, instead of touring houses, looking at killer furniture, and enjoying the sunshine

Randy was very sweet and brought me vitamins, water, and soup, though I wasn’t able to do much with most of it. He was wise enough to start pounding vitamins right after teardown at the show, so though he too caught sick, he was only down about a day. Kevin & his wife were coming down with “something” about the time they were flying out, which was good and bad. Good that at least they’d be home to be sick, instead of cramped up in a hotel room with a TV that shuts off automatically every 45 min. I’d tell you about the teardown of the booth, how Randy hustled out a ton of furniture and had a great show, and many other things that happened if I had actually participated and knew the stories, but that clearly didn’t work out. In addition, we were supposed to all go out to celebrate Randy’s birthday, but with the dread mahacas working it’s way through our merry band of troops, that was a subdued celebration. I did mange to get out and see some of the stores on the strip and also catch a car show for an auction that was happening. So, compared to last year, this year’s trip wasn’t the best. Randy did well in Palm Springs, and was able to unload most of the items we brought. The hotel (The Vagabond) was a good value and overall was a good stay. Most of the places we ate at were very tasty, and we were lucky in that most of the new places we tried (other than Lyons) were great. Unlike last year though, I don’t want to repeat this year’s trip. Blech.

Tinsel Time!

It’s been a little while since our last posting, mostly due to the craziness of the fall season and our renovation of the new space (more info coming about that soon!). So now we find ourselves in the midst of the Holiday season with everything merry and bright, and an excuse to max out the credit card. Ok, ok, don’t do that, but if you just have to, come and do it here at z|modern!!

ImageWe strive to offer our customers the highest forms of design in the Denver area, and we work hard to bring you quality items that are second to none on the market. Whether it’s Colorado historic art, furnishings, or lighting, we at z| do our best to find you the best of the best. And with that in mind, we have stocked the store with some of the best vintage Aluminum Christmas trees we could get our hands on.

Aluminum Christmas trees? Did you just read that right? Yes, we have many sizes and shapes to illuminate your holidays with shiny boughs of twinkle. Tacky you say? Perhaps, but when you consider the history of the Aluminum Tree, you too will be a convert.

The following was excerpted from The Aluminum Association at

It was 50 years ago when a sales manager for an aluminum cookware company saw a hand-made aluminum Christmas tree. He took the idea back to his company, and in 1959, America saw the first commercial aluminum Christmas tree.

It was not billed as an artificial tree but instead was called a ”permanent” tree. Some people immediately embraced the new space age tree. Conservation of real trees was not a consideration, but the chance to have a new modern interpretation of an ornamental tree inspired some and dismayed others. Artificial trees of various kinds had been available in earlier years. There was even a base-metal tree available in 1950 along with feather trees and visca (straw-like rayon) trees in green or white.

Aluminum trees were first manufactured by the Aluminum Specialty Company in Manitowoc, Wis. It is estimated that this company made more than four million trees in a 10-year period. ”Shredded” aluminum strips were wrapped by hand around the wire branch and then fluffed to spread out the aluminum needles.

Each branch was then packed in a cardboard sleeve. Any branch could be put in any one of the holes in the pole that was the trunk because the branches were all the same length. This made the tree easy to assemble. The correct shape was attained because the holes in the pole that formed the trunk were drilled at different angles. The first trees had a folding tripod base to hold the tree trunk. Later, other stands became available that rotated the tree and played music.

It was recommended that electric lights should not be put on the trees because of the possibility of an electric shock. Color wheels, which had earlier been used to decorate in other ways, were used to illuminate the aluminum trees with different colors as the wheel with four or five colored transparent sections rotated past the light source. The branches were not strong enough to carry many ornaments. Usually the decorations on the trees were only glass balls and often of only one color.

Eventually many other companies manufactured their own version of an aluminum Christmas tree. Some later models had pompom ends on the branches to make the tree look fuller. Colors were introduced – gold, blue, green and even pink. Some models were only one foot high, while the tallest were seven feet. The more expensive models had more branches. Even half trees were made to put on the wall in small areas or an office. The interest in aluminum trees peaked about 1965 and by the end of the 1960s few were being manufactured.

So as you can see, the previous generation had a little “conservation” thing going long before it was considered necessary or even “in vogue” to do so! Not only are these stylish trees minimalistic in their presentation, but by purchasing one of these highly collectable beauties you are saving a real tree from an untimely demise. Form and function come together yet again at z|!

Slow Death by Estate Sale

I was not given a blindfold or a cigarette. When you’re about to be executed, you should at least be given a blindfold and a cigarette. Or a last meal request. Instead I got 7 days notice. Oh, and I was informed there’d be some torturing leading up to it. Nice.

It all started back in November, just before we left for San Francisco. Randy’s extended family J&J decided retirement in a tropical setting sounded like a good plan, and had asked Randy to help them part with some of their treasures. As aging Rock Stars, and I MEAN ROCK STARS (as in, toured with the Doors, The Dead, Jimi Hendrix) they had a selection of goodies that any collector would sell their first born for. And some did, as SF is a great place to find collectors of Vintage. They hadn’t listed their house yet, but were considering their next option for decommissioning their collection.

Enter Vega, my 3 1/2 year old, 6 pound (on a good day) cat. Vega has always had a weird physiology, and underwent several procedures while very young. Vega REALLY wanted to go to SF. She heard about the seafood, and said she was in. Since work was involved, she finally agreed to stay home, but wasn’t happy about it. On the last day of our trip while traveling home, Vega came down quite ill, and I ended up going straight from the airport to the Emergency Vet. Follow that with her spending a week in emergency care, visits to a couple of specialists, and finally several trips to CSU and a specialized surgery, I was up to my eyeballs in vet bills. Vega has since made a near full recovery, though her condition caused her to lose part of her vision so she doesn’t jump up on things anymore.


I’m ready to go! When do we leave?

Vega before surgery, not feeling so good.

Vega after surgery, sporting her sweater since she lost so much body fat

Vega these days, happy, healthy, and having a nice kitty nap!

While all this was going on, J&J decided to ask Randy to host their Estate Sale, as they could think of no one else they could trust with their goodies. Many of their art pieces were rare, a full pottery collection to rival some museums, and all in a beautifully designed house. The main problem was that Randy doesn’t have the staff to pull off a small estate sale, let alone one of the proportions of J&J’s with over 50 years of collecting involved. So being the problem solver that he is, Randy proposed to do the estate sale, but the proceeds would go to Vega’s vet bills, if I could get enough volunteers to pull it off. It’d be a win-wn for everyone, he helps friends, Vega gets out of debt (her allowance isn’t very big), and the stuff gets sold by knowledgeable friends with care and respect. Sounds like a winner!

Well, as we all know the economy is not “fine,” and therefore the hope of J&J’s house selling by March quickly vanished, as did the estate sale. April came, then May, and still no luck. After a trial run of their drive down to their new warmer climate at the end of May, it was time to get our game plan on for the sale. J&J were thinking something before the middle of July, since that was when their exit date was planned, so basically they gave use 6 weeks to figure it out. Not bad.

A few days after receiving this information, Randy & I were working out the shop to-do list, and the estate sale came up. The conversation went something like this:

Me: So J&J sent the dates for the estate sale. You want to do it before or after the 4th of July?

Randy: I’m doing the renovation. It’s next weekend.

Me: You mean the weekend of the 23rd? Yeah, that will be tight, but doable, I think.

Randy: No, next weekend.

Me: As in, 7 days from now?

Randy: Yup. That’s the only weekend it can happen.

Me: (Dumbfounded) Uh, there’s not enough time. I haven’t even seen the house, or the contents. And I don’t think I can get help that fast!

Randy: Well, that’s the plan. I’ll just make it happen.

What followed could be considered a spirited debate, fraught with expletives, amazement, and a complete failure on my part to convince Randy that this was NOT a good plan. I left the store that evening wondering if he had lost his mind or if I was overreacting. When J&J pretty much had the same reaction, I felt a little better, but the go date was still on. We had 7 days to pull off a month’s worth of prep and work, and make it count.

It’s not as bad as it looks, it’s worse.

Of course, I wasn’t able to get near the amount of friends to help as I would have with 3 or 4 weeks of notice. Nor was I able to do a full marketing campaign that would draw people from Ft. Collins to Castle Rock. But my close group of friends and family came through yet again, and put in many hours of time to make it happen. Randy was able to bribe several of his connections to come work, and also call in some favors from his inner circle. J&J were clearly freaked out at the first night of recon at the house, because there really was no plan other than “get it done.”

To be blunt, Randy’s strengths do not lie in manual labor. He’s easily distracted, constantly on the phone with clients, and can be overwhelmed if he has too many decisions or options presented to him. So having him help bag and tag the majority of the sale was out. However, his little black book of connections and his ability to show people the beauty in things was at a premium for this sale, since there was not much junk and a lot more “funk.” I had to remind myself of this fact multiple times during the process, as Randy was standing around wooing potential buyers, having a beer, lounging on the sofa, while myself and the crew slaved over pricing endless boxes of office supplies, literature, books, tools, knick knacks, and the like. Every night was dinner on a paper plate while tagging items, getting home around midnight, and then back at my “normal” job in the morning. Needless to say, we all lost track of what day it was, what time it was, and if we’d ever see the end of the bottomless pile of stuff.

The layout of the house is FANTASTIC, but not for an estate sale. A windy thin stairway to the bedrooms and office was begging for either wall damage or a lawsuit (or both), so everything had to come to the main floor. The good news was we had some big guys help who could carry the sofas and large plants. The bad news was they could only do it for one night. So It was a mad dash to get everything ready to move for our tiny time slot and find somewhere to put it. In addition, the books couldn’t be prepped in time for the big guys, so myself and Chris (who works in the store with Randy) ended up carrying the 10 boxes down. At least my missed workout was made up for that day.

Of course, while all the in-house prep is going on, there’s the additional prep of signage, web listings, photos for the listings, web pages to be built, email blasts to be sent, etc, and the daily store chores to be done as well. Luckily I had a bit of practice for this sort of thing before, which streamlined the process but didn’t take the time out of it that much. Considering I was shooting pictures on a Tuesday to post them on a Wednesday, things turned out ok.

Friday afternoon rolled around, and upon arrival at the house it sorta kinda looked like things were coming together. J&J spent the better part of the day pricing things they knew the history on, which sped up the process considerably. With the sale starting bright and early at the butt-crack of dawn, we could lay some things of less value out on the lawn and free up space in the garage to move. (This was a huge improvement over “take it out and put it back” the previous 4 nights). At 11:30pm, we finally buttoned it up, with all the chips on the table for our morning opening. If there was anything we missed, we’d find out by 9am when (hopefully) hoards of people would clamor to the sale. Just the though of having to be up again in a mere 6 hours made me tired, and knowing it would be back at the sale just put a few more nails in the coffin. If I did sleep, it was spent dreaming about tagging stuff for the sale.

Saturday morning came, and fortunately, so did the shoppers! The morning rush was exactly that, and we had a nice line of people willing to give money for J&J’s stuff. Most of the street leading to the house was filled with cars, and few of them our helper’s rides. Having J&J sign up for the Square app was a good call, as many folks were happy to shop more when they found out they could credit and forget it. Though the weather was sketchy, we were spared rain and only had to deal with some light winds. I think I spent the majority of the day in a coma, the simple math I normally do in my head was impossible to calculate and I was relying heavily on my best friend Adam to check my totals. Our customers were friendly and easy to work with, a treat we knew would not be the case on day 2 when the vultures would be looking for deals. Kevin (see the Palm Springs post) was amazing as a roaming sales guy, talking up different items, making deals on the fly, and getting the merchandise OUT THE DOOR. When the final bell came and we shut it down, all and all it was a very successful day.

Randy was feeling like celebrating, so we ended up at Pacific Highlands on the suggestion of Kevin. As you know from reading the SF blog postings, after eating at Swan’s I wasn’t sure if I could ever eat oysters in Colorado again and not be disappointed. I have to say, thought it wasn’t Swan’s, Pacific Highlands has a great seafood selection, and some really great oysters. And for the quality of the seafood, it is reasonably priced, too! We will definitely be back for their $1 oyster specials. As tired as I was and completely fried, I toyed with skipping dinner and going straight to bed. I can honestly say I was glad I chose to stay up and snarf shellfish.

Sunday came too soon, and TOO HOT! In hindsight, placing the checkout stand on the concrete by the street was a crappy plan for crazy summer heat. Those of us working the cash register easily drank 5 gallons of water a piece and were still parched. J&J kept the snacks and drinks coming, but there was not making up for the sun baking us to a crisp. “Clearly we are dead, and this is hell, because otherwise it wouldn’t be so hot.” I seriously think I could feel my sandals melt to the pavement. Surprisingly, we did have a good turnout despite record solar flares from the sun and it being Father’s Day. Also surprisingly, most folks were quite social and friendly, and not out for blood playing “let’s make a deal.” We had a few turkeys, but in the end it was a thanksgiving. More stuff left, J&J were thrilled, and we easily sold more than half the inventory. Randy successfully negotiated the exit of several collections as a whole, and got J&J fair market prices. Kevin stopped by with his family and ended up with a car-full of purchases. A few repeat shoppers came by and left with boxes of stuff. Overall, not bad.

I’d like to give you a play by play of what happened the two actual days of the sale, or even better descriptions of the prep time, but I honestly can’t recall due to the speed, duration and intensity of the setup and sale itself. It truly came down to friends and family to save the day, you know who you are, and we THANK YOU!!!

We’ll know in a few days how the numbers came out for Vega’s debt, right now it’s looking pretty good. J&J have much less to do to get ready for their Next Big Adventure, which is excellent news.

Of course, with these sort of debacles, there are always heated arguments, stress, confusion, miscommunication, more stress, broken items, and more, and we had our fair share. To say it was completely smooth sailing is like saying the Titanic had a minor incident. But the purpose of this blog is to make you laugh and show you cool stuff, so I’m just going to skip all that.

It must be mentioned, though, that there was one major downfall with performing this miracle for J&J. Before the sale, those of us who knew J&J, or knew of J&J, considered ourselves lucky to have met such cool people. After working so closely with them, under such a mountain of stress, we all got to know them a lot better.

I think I speak for all of us when I say our greatest feat performed in helping them with this sale for their next journey, will be saying goodbye.