Despite a late start to the secondhand scene, Nancy Topolski is making up for lost times. Nancy has quickly finessed her scavenger skills to reign over Rochester’s estate sales. Her weekends are spent picking out the very best finds in dusty rooms, full of junk to the untrained eye. As both a vintage seller and crafter, Nancy spends her days on the prowl for one-of-a-kind finds. When she’s not hustling and bustling for her many businesses, Nancy curates window dressings for shops in her city. We can’t help but admire the energy and skills Nancy has in spares, picking up items like a vintage Remington typewriter and antique Kodak Brownie. Read on to find out more about what keeps her busy.
Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from and where do you currently live?
I grew up outside of Philadelphia. My best friend’s mom would take us to yard sales, but my mom would never, ever, buy secondhand. I now live in Rochester, New York. It’s a thriving place for poor Kodak retirees and they are always having great sales. I particularly love the old cameras.
What is the most awesome thing in or about your neighborhood?
Rochester has so many awesome qualities. There are lots of parks and wonderful museums. Usually there are too many events to go to on the weekend that I have to make difficult choices. Especially when I would prefer to be home knitting or photographing vintage items.
List the top 5 places you go locally to discover hidden treasures.
So estate sales? Did you go to garage sales, flea markets, thrift stores as a kid?
I never went to thrift stores as a child. Today, when I visit my parents and tell them I am going to the thrift shop they offer to give me money to go to the mall. They think buying secondhand is gross. I think going to the mall is gross.
How did you begin going to thrift stores, markets, etc?
I tagged along with my best friend’s family when I was young. That is the first I remember learning about yards sales. I have no memory of going to thrift shops, except in college to get Halloween costumes. Then here in Rochester, they are prolific, I guess I just got hooked, but too late.
Are you a hoarder or a minimalist?
I think I come off as an organized horder, but one misstep and I could be on one of those horder shows. I really like objects. I often “redecorate” or change around the items in our home. I “shop” the basement, which is full of unphotographed items for my Krrb Corner.
What is your most cherished handcrafted, secondhand, vintage, upcycled object you possess? What’s the story behind it?
I have my grandmother’s best china that was all purchased at local thrift shops. I have a lot of her jewelry and a gorgeous black velvet dress that I wore one Christmas she when still here on Earth.
Oh, by the way, do you have a day job?
I have two kids, two dogs, two cats, three sugar gliders and a euro lizard that needs my constant care and attention. I have the Krrb Corner and an Etsy shop as I make stuffed toys out of recycled sweaters and hand knit things too, much of which I put on my blog.