When you get a phone call from my Uncle Billy at 9pm at night it can only mean one thing: He’s 5 minutes away from your house and he wants you to put the kettle on. So I did.
He was calling in on his way back from doing a mega house clearance of an old ladies house in Belfast. As soon as those words left his mouth my mind was all…*OOH OLD LADIE RETRO HOUSE THINGS. TREASURES UNKNOWN!*
After his brew, he took me out for a look in the back of his crammed white transit van, lit only by the dim glow of an iphone. I saw enough to know there were some cracking treasures in there so I told him I’d come up to his shop during the week and have a look at the rest.
My Uncle Billy is a one of a kind del boy with a heart of gold and is exceptional at doing accents. If you meet him, do not be fooled. He is Fermanagh born and bred. He has owned and operated Valley Auctions in Fivemiletown for 20 years and more recently opened the auction premises as a clearance centre selling new and second-hand furniture as well as a load of homewares and random things he gathers doing house clearances and trade-ins.
Back to the old ladies stuff.
I drove up to his shop with Levi and my friend last week and spent the afternoon rummaging around what can only be described as a treasure trove for the vintage lovers. His stock obviously changes regularly like most second-hand shops but as far as I’m concerned it has never been better. I literally poured over the shop for a good hour, pulling out stuff from the house clearance boxes and putting all the good stuff out where it could be seen. I like to think I know what kind of gear most second-hand lovers are after and it is currently coming out his proverbial shop ears. Typewriters, sewing machines, vintage dress patterns, old lanterns, china, SHEDLOADS of vintage books (my mate scooped a really early edition of The Pilgrims Progress – amazing!), lamp-stands, retro telephones, all kinds of quirky chairs and tables. You. need. to. get. involved. If you are into painting up furniture – this is the spot for you.
Due to my current (self-imposed) strike on buying any more furniture for our gaff, I kept my loot small but came home with some of the most beautiful trinkets.
I can vividly remember my Nanny having one of these boxes beside her phone when I was a wee girl. I had to get it for nostalgias sake.
I love finding little keepsakes in second-hand stuff – these letters referencing issues the owner was having with certain plants in the garden date back to 1959 – so cool! Imagine they had to write to the special garden people to ask about their gardening questions back in the day?! How very quaint!
The shop is really reasonably priced (unlike a lot of these niche vintage shops these days) and most definitely up for a haggle, is Uncle Billy – so I urge you to head down there for some of his banter and have a good old scour for some goodies.
The shop is just off the main street in Fivemiletown down beside the Co-op. Official address is 10a Ballylurgan Road Fivemiletown, Co Tyrone, BT75 0PR. For those of you thinking of heading – make sure you tell him I sent you (mates rates, whaaaatttt?!)