At the Hog Creek Antique Mall in Hillsdale County, the vintage plastic Santa’s sleigh lawn ornament is $325.
Don’t even think about trying to haggle, especially at this time of year. The sale tag at the crafts and antiques vendor on the Jolly Old Elf and his Red-Nosed Reindeer says the price is “CLOSED”.
The retailer may charge as much for old colored plastic, because over the past few years demand for these exterior decorations — from gold to collectors — has grown and grown.
“They’re hot now,” said Hog Creek owner Michelle Barrows. “Everyone is after them. Vintage Christmas is very hot. It has a lot to do with people remembering them growing up, so they want to find one like they did.”
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Even the Grinch, with a sinister grin, is $89.99 on Amazon. And he wanted to steal Christmas.
Seasonal outdoor decor, known as blow molds, has risen in value as the companies that made them went out of business and are remembered by collectors from childhood.
The price, Barrows said, often depends on the size, condition and age of the decoration. Smaller blow molds, the kind you can fit in the palm of your hand, can cost $30. The larger, near life-size ones sell for nearly $500.
And it’s not just for Christmas. There are decorations for Easter, 4th of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving – all holidays.
They are made by blowing air to mold hot plastic into hollow molds to create three-dimensional shapes. Often they are painted in bright colors and have lights inside so they glow at night.
Decorations became particularly popular in the 70s, and decorations from this era are now among the most sought after. Decorations are durable, withstand snow, rain, heat and strong gusts if you weigh them down.
The lawn flamingo, designed in 1957, is an example of a blow mold.
Sometimes they are transmitted. They are also for sale at antique malls like Hog Creek and at online retailers. There are even social media sites, like Very Vintage Christmas (buy, sell, trade, show off) on Facebook, that focus on decorations.
In the Facebook group, blow molding admirers from across the country complain about prices, reminisce about decorations they remember, and share favorites from their collection or finds that might be of interest to others.
A Tennessee resident posts that she saw a school in an antique store, but it cost $225, which she thinks is too much, adding, “I’m waiting for her to call me to see this which she will accept at the very least. I’m sure I still love it!”
Another poster: “I think everyone in Indiana heard me scream at the Goodwill store today when I found this blow mold for $4.” She added: “It’s dirty, it smells and it’s missing a few bulb dowels and the star on top. But I don’t care!!”
Gayle Manley, a freelance journalist who has collected the ornaments and even visited a factory where they were made, noted in the NY-PA Collector that “the figurines have become so popular that enthusiasts and collectors shop year-round for find valuable additions to their vacation landscape.”
“The prices are skyrocketing now,” she told the Free Press, noting that some are now selling for as much as $1,700. “They’re a treasured part of American culture. They really are. They’re iconic images of the wholesomeness of Christmas.”
The decorations were made in the United States by “everyday Americans, hardworking and proud of what they’ve done,” she said. The bloated characters that replaced them, she added, just don’t have the same enduring charm.
While some people find the blow molded decorations quite kitschy, others – including lifestyle brand Martha Stewart – consider them art.
MarthaStewart.com said the decorations are “equal parts festive and nostalgic.” The characters – “think Santa Claus, reindeer and candy canes” – brighten up “lawns, porches and sometimes rooftops”.
The decorations also include figures from nativity scenes.
Good Housekeeping, the magazine that has written about household issues for more than a century, said earlier this month that “blow-molded decorations are making a comeback.”
“If you think back to your childhood, chances are you remember seeing homes in your neighborhood lit up with these plastic figurines,” according to the publication. “There’s just something special about them.”
Collectors pay a premium to buy them and scour flea markets, garage sales and antique malls.
Barrows, who isn’t quite 60 and has her own collection of around 15 to 20 blow-molded ornaments, said collectible trends tend to come and go and are often tied to memorabilia. childhood.
“The antiques market changes depending on the age of its customers,” she said. “20 or 30 years ago cowboy stuff was hot. And a lot of kids today don’t recognize cowboys.”
Right now, she says, blow molds are all the rage because people shopping at antique stores belong to the 60s and 70s generation.
The other day she was walking past a house and saw a guy in his 60s in a yard full of blow molds. So she stopped and asked him if he wanted to sell one of them. He said no, he collects them.
A few weeks later, she said, the man walked into her store and bought some more.
Restore your plastic treasures
Tips from MarthaStewart.com:
Use mild cleaners, such as dish detergent. Use a soft cloth, paper towels, or baby wipes to remove dirt, but don’t scrub hard and avoid harsh chemicals. This can damage the paint. If the paint fades, it can be touched up with a light coat of plastic-friendly spray paint.
Replace incandescent bulbs with LEDs. Do not use incandescent bulbs over 40 watts. Consider switching to LEDs. They heat up less, use less energy and tend to last longer. It’s an easy update for old decorations.
Repair cracks with clear epoxy. Often you can repair damage from the inside by sticking a strip of plastic, something you could cut into a juice container, like a band aid. Larger damage can often be repaired using parts from broken molds.