In September 2014 two U.S. men camped out for the iPhone 6 for 19 days. They cemented their spot in the New York City line on 31 August, almost three weeks ahead of the Apple device’s eventual release date, 19 September.
Whether you believe that kind of desperate yearly upgrade is consumerism gone mad or a clever adoption of new technology is neither here nor there, but what is undeniably becoming increasingly evident is that we live in a society where possessions are transient, the new is desirable and when it comes to commodities, there is always room for improvement.
Those men’s feat of patience also makes it hard to believe that someone could go an entire year without buying anything brand new, but that is exactly what Maitland antiquing queen, Clare Dunnicliff did in 2012.
‘My New Year’s resolution about three years ago was to only ever purchase or use something that already existed’. So for a whole year I didn’t buy anything new in terms of clothing, I’d use what I had from last season and use accessories to wear it in a different way’, she said.
She said it was a challenge, but in the end she gained more than she lost.
‘It was that thing where when we are fortunate enough to work, and depending on what job you have, your income is good and you live to your means, so buying whatever you want, whenever you want is simply something you do’, Claire said.
Clare’s determination was driven by a life long love for antiquing and re-purposing, and her appreciation for things that have a story.
‘A tin that’s had biscuits in it, how has that survived’? she asked.
‘That tin for those biscuits was refilled from your general store, you took your tin, had it filled, took it home. It’s been bashed by everybody in the family, when it’s empty the kids have played with it. All of that type of stuff, how does it survive? It’s not a piece of china behind a slate of glass, it’s had a life of its own and it’s still alive to tell its story’.
The other appeal of antiquing that can’t be overlooked is the way in which it romanticises the past, igniting our nostalgia and making us yearn for an idea or feeling that can no longer be recaptured.
‘Antiques explain who we are, in terms of how we got to where we are now,’ Clare explained.
‘It also reminds you how we see the world and what we value now isn’t wrong, but in some ways it shows you a time when what was important to people was different’.
If the proliferation of op shops, antique and vintage themed stores in Maitland is anything to go by, Clare is not alone in her thinking.
Antique stores are not hard to stumble upon in Maitland, with the highway and Melbourne Street in East Maitland and High Street in Central Maitland being hot spots.
An op shop tour of Central Maitland could begin at the bottom end of High Street at St Vincent de Paul, winding its way through independent stores, the Lifeline’s, Father Reilly’s and Red Cross’ of The Levee precinct, before wrapping up at the Presbyterian Op Shop at the top end of town. Some of the best treasures can also be found in some of the most unlikely suburban locations.
But regardless of whether your find comes from the Vinnies $2.00 bin or a high end antique store, Clare insists that the appeal of the second hand comes from a connection through the item to something or someone else.
‘It’s not a head decision, it’s always a heart decision for junk, and it’s something that speaks to you about something in your past or something in your childhood or something about who you are now’, she said.
‘There’s a connection, and it’s always an emotional one’.
After all of her window shopping, raiding of cheap clothes rack and general avoidance of the brand new, Clare said the habits formed during her resolution year have carried on.
‘It slowed me down a lot and made me think, do I really need that’, she said.
Still, if the Nokia 3315 mobile phone was to be re-released, it doesn’t seem likely that anyone would line up for 19 days to get their hands on one.