Mary Beth Hatter, An Anthropological Thrifter in Denver

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A vintage reseller by trade and crafter by hobby, Mary Beth Hatter is a bright, shining light in Denver, Colorado. Super smart, she has really honed her craft and the wares she has on her Krrb corner have become some of our favorites.

Read more about what Mary Beth is up to in Denver and get inspired by her full-time thrifting.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is MaryBeth Hatter and I am an Etsy merchant who loves to treasure hunt. I have always liked old things and appreciate the workmanship and quality that used to be commonplace before the advent of outsourcing, because things were made to last. About 20 years ago I worked next door to an antique store and the store owner would give me the history of some of his inventory. I was hooked. I not only love to hunt for those special things but I love to research and learn their histories. I also studied anthropology in college and was fascinated by archeology, which is the study of the material culture of human kind; love the artifacts and the stories behind them. I equate that with what I do now, thrifting is my fieldwork.

Where are you from and where do you currently live?

I was born in Dayton Ohio on an Air force base but, I have lived in Denver, Colorado since I was 3.

Summer in Denver City Park.

Summer in Denver City Park.

What is the most awesome thing in or about your neighborhood?

I live across the street from Denver City Park where there are several small lakes and lots of trees and birds. It’s a fantastic place to watch the seasons change. I have lived in the same place for the last 19 years and have watched lots of lawns and unused alley spaces become gardens and I really like that.

What is your favorite place to go locally to discover hidden treasures.

I am a sucker for an estate sale and will never drive past a yard sale without stopping! I drive all over the metro area to buy second hand and my favorite place is wherever I am the moment.

What blogs or websites do you visit regularly?

I spend a lot of time on Etsy. I also like Apartmentherapy.com, Pinterest.com, Knitty.com, and marthastewart.com because she is the Empress and has great recipes and craft ideas.

As a kid, were any of your toys and clothes hand-me-downs? Stories please!

Actually, I think the only hand-me-downs I remember are books. My mom and dad were voracious readers. I read a lot of classics like A Tale of Two Cities and the like because my mom was in a book club, westerns by Louis L’amour and books by Stephen King when I was young. I am the youngest of three and my only sister is 7 years my senior, I think that saved me from hand-me –downs.

Early fall in Denver City Park.

Early fall in Denver City Park.

Today, how often do you go to garage sales, flea markets, etc.? What is your modus operandi? Any personal tips you’d like to share?

Since I started selling on Etsy I go several times a week. I used to buy a lot of little things that I liked and everything had to be on sale. Now, I buy things that are I think are desirable to collectors. I especially focus on mid-century modern and items by iconic designers like Jens Quistgaard, Georg Jensen, Alvar Aalto and Vera Neumann. Whatever I buy has to be in excellent to very good vintage condition and relatively rare. I always look for original art and fine textiles and I am a sucker for needlepoint and basketry. I try to limit the amount of time I spend at any one location but that doesn’t always work out.

Have you ever taken home an object you found in the street or dumpster? If so, what was it? And where is it now?

I have found lots of things in the dumpster or next to the dumpster. I have sold a lot of those things on Craigslist, consummate merchant that I am. I live in a second floor apartment over looking an alley in an area where there are several office and apartment buildings. There is always something in that alley and I have to practice a lot of restraint, let me tell you.

Are you a hoarder or a minimalist?

HOARDER! I purge several times a year to avoid being the subject of reality TV! Etsy has allowed me to appease the primal hunter-gatherer in me by allowing me to shop for stuff even though I know I have all that I need.

The prized orange lamp.

The prized orange lamp.

What is your most cherished thrifted, secondhand, vintage, upcycled object you possess? What’s the story behind it?

I have a very big Orange lamp that is probably from the 1960s. I don’t know where I got it but at the time I was using orange as an accent color in my décor, right down to goldfish in a bowl. I remember paying less than $10 for it in the 90s. Right now it’s nestled among my Native American basket collection, and I still really cherish it. It’s one of the few possessions I have that I feel really attached to.

Do you create/make things? What are you working on these days?

I knit, crochet, cook, garden and make earrings. Hat and scarf season is coming and Christmas is around the corner. I just took a hat off the knitting needles and am looking for my next needlework project. All my friends and family members get handmade or home baked gifts from me for the Holidays.

By the way, what’s your day job?

Etsy, Ebay and e-sales are my primary source of income so thrift shopping is now my day job!

Thanks Mary Beth! Happy Hunting!

The Short List

Sites
Apartment Therapy
Pinterest
Knitty
Martha Stewart

Find Mary Beth
Krrb.com/embee