Meet Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market vendor Marilyn Balzer. She and her husband John own Wildpalm Vintage. She shares her passion, expertise and care for vintage jewelry that keep customers coming back to her booth.
What items do you sell at the market?
Vintage jewelry, occasionally vintage purses and purse mirrors.
I try to buy things in mint condition, American pieces made mostly before 1990. The majority of the items I sell are from the 1950s and 1970s. Many of the items are signed by famous manufacturers in the past such as Weiss, Trifari, Monet, Napier, Haskell, Kramer of New York and Eisenberg
It’s true that things that were manufactured in the ‘older days’ were better quality, workmanship and design, and that’s what I love about them. I try and sell my items for a fair price and I have a lot of repeat customers including international customers from London, Italy & Australia
What do you love about the items that you sell?
I love jewelry and I love buying it. I’m very proud of what I sell and I’ve found that this is my niche, and I think I have a good eye for picking out jewelry that people like. Also, I enjoy explaining the quality of the items. I have a vintage encyclopedia that I keep on hand that lists all the manufacturers and photographs of vintage jewelry. I prove to customers what I have is vintage so they see the value of what I have. I’m always learning and I enjoy meeting people. We’ve even had the occasional celebrity buyer like Kate Winslet and Kelly Osbourne.
How long have you been at the market?
I have been at Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market since it opened and before that a few years at Chelsea Flea Market. It started out part time and then when my husband retired he joined me and it became full time.
What inspired you to get into the business of selling vintage jewelry?
I’ve always loved jewelry. Vintage jewelry quality is superior to what’s being manufactured today. People constantly ask, is this real? It’s because of the craftsmanship of the pieces.
Where do you find your vintage jewelry?
I mostly buy my items at estate sales, auctions and antique stores but I’m always looking for new items when I travel. If I see something good that needs fixing up then I’ll buy it and make the repairs.
What can shoppers expect to find at your booth?
We have a great display of vintage jewelry and we do our best to give shoppers the best price we can, and I stand by what I sell. For example, if a shopper buys something and a rhinestone falls out, and they come back to the market, I will do my best to fix it. Also, we make vintage charm coin bracelets from international coins that we’ve collected over the years.
My husband made a card that explains how to take care of your vintage costume jewelry. Most of the jewelry that we sell is over 40 years old and so it is made to last. Here are some tips to care for your vintage jewelry:
- Don’t wear it in the shower
- Don’t treat it like 14K gold
- Don’t wear all day everyday—save for special occasions
- If you’re wearing a bracelet or necklace all day & sweating, take it off when you get home, rinse it and pat it dry to help preserve the life of the jewelry.
- Costume rings take the most wear so consider removing them when washing your hands if wearing them all day
How can shoppers keep in touch with you?
They can visit our booth every weekend at Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market on West 39th Street in Manhattan and visit our website www.wildpalmvintage.com. If they see something they like on the website then they can correspond with us via email to get more info.
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